The use of English is on the rise in Switzerland. Many of us use it in our daily lives, and many native English speakers live here too. That is why we at the Volkshochschule have decided to offer a small number of courses in English. Of course there is no proper translation for the word Volkshochschule – but «Open University» comes pretty close. Come and think in English!


Battle of Ideas

„Shape the future through debate!“

The acclaimed Battle of Ideas originated in London and has grown into an annual two-month international festival of debate that takes place in over 20 cities throughout the UK and Europe. Battle of Ideas offers the opportunity for a no-holds-barred interrogation of future political, social, cultural trends and it challenges speakers and audience alike to „shape the future through debate“.

With democracy under sustained criticism the opportunity for debate has never been more pressing. Amidst new questions over the future of the European Union, the plenary debate explores what the rise of populism means for European politics and for democracy.

If recent political developments have created divisions, the wars over a variety of „cultural’“ issues have been even more heated. Therefore the Zurich battle will explore the changing relationship between religion and the state, the cultural legacy of the ’68ers, ask if #metoo helps or hinders women’s liberation and assess whether sustainability is a boost or a barrier to urban development.

Detailed program.

  • Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, 10:00 – 17:00, University of Zurich, main building.

Dr. Lucy R. Peter

Thomas Hardy „The Mayor of Casterbridge“

We are going to read, interpret and discuss a fascinating, gripping novel of great English literature.
This great novelist tells a sombre tale, unfolding relentlessly, no less universal and thunderous than the classic Greek dramas.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018 – April 2, 2019, 16:00 – 17:30, Haus Bärengasse.

Michael Roth

„Philosophy in English. An Introduction to Ethics“

Ethics helps us to decide rationally about right and wrong, both on a personal and a social level. After looking at how the ancient world approached ethical issues, we will focus on how English language philosophers have contributed to more recent debates.

Participants do not need to be fluent in spoken English, but an ability to read short texts in English is expected.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 23 – Nov. 20, 2018, 19:00 – 20:30, Haus Bärengasse.

John Potts

„Two novels by Graham Greene“


Graham Greene has been described as „in a class by himself…the ultimate chronicler of twentieth century consciousness and anxiety“ while also writing funny and satirical lighter fiction that he once described as „entertainments“ as opposed to serious „novels“. We shall read one of each: „Our Man in Havana“ and „The End of the Affair“. If time permits, we shall watch the film version of the latter.

  • Tuesday, Oct. 30 – Dec. 11, 2018, 19:00 – 20:30, University of Zurich, main building

Prof. Dr. Davide Scaramuzza

„Autonomous Flying: Artificial Intelligence Takes off“

The talk provides an insight into the fundamental building blocks of mobile robots and in the discussion about the open research challenges, especially on autonomous drones and the role they will play one day in search-and-rescue and remote-inspection missions where a fast response is crucial. Indeed, agile navigation through unknown, indoor environments poses a number of challenges for robotics research in terms of localization, mapping, obstacle detection, navigation and control.

  • Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, 19:30 – 20:45, University of Zurich, central building