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Rigi Workshop 2023: Infectious diseases as drivers of change

Infectious diseases as drivers of change: a scientific and historical perspective on past, present, and future.



Meeting place

Hotel Rigi-Kulm

PhD and Post-docs: Are you interested in biology, history, epidemics or medicine ? Join us for a 3-days workshop at Mount Rigi-Kulm from 29th to 31st of January 2023. During the workshop, you will explore past and present epidemic/pandemic events and their technical and societal impacts, beyond the dramatic loss of lives.

Rigi Workshop 2023 - Infectious Diseases as Drivers of Change

Infectious diseases (IDs) have shaped societies throughout the history of humanity. Their impact goes beyond the immediate loss of lives and livelihoods, to include major shifts in economy, demographics, labor policy, and social construction. The bubonic plague that swept through Europe several times from the 14th century, or the IDs brought by European colonizers that decimated the First Nations in the Americas (16-17th centuries) are two examples of many such events. Their destructive nature is often followed by profound changes, leading to innovations in science, technology and society, which may not have been possible without an ID-driven shock, thus illustrating the duality of epidemics and pandemics.

The Rigi workshop planned for January 2023 aims to invite participants with various backgrounds on an interdisciplinary journey to explore the significance of IDs as drivers of change. Our knowledge of the past and present of IDs will be projected onto future scenarios where questions concerning biomedical ethics, loss of biodiversity and natural habitats, human contact limitation and the push towards more digital life experiences, will be critically discussed. The workshop offers an interdisciplinary reflection on the pandemic experience that brings us all together and opportunities for a synergistic approach to investigating and analyzing societal and technological impacts of IDs.

The workshop features keynote lectures delivered by leading experts in the field, case studies in teams, and sharing of group and individual work in the form of poster and oral presentations.


  • Prof. Dr. Daniel Bausch, FIND Geneva
    Outbreak Response: From Colonialism to the Emerging Global Architecture
  • Prof. Dr. Flurin Condrau, University of Zürich
    Why History of Medicine ?
  • Dr. Leander Diener, Univerity of Zurich
    How to see the big picture: the role of medical history during a pandemic
  • Prof. Dr. Johannes Krause, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig
    The genetic history of the plague and the origin of the Black Death
  • Prof. Dr. Verena Schünemann, University of Zurich and University of Vienna
    Ancient DNA and pathogens: tracing disease through time
  • PD Dr. Kaspar Staub, University of Zurich
    Connecting the past and present of infectious diseases: An interdisciplinary and quantitative approach via epidemiology, health history and digital humanities
  • Dr. Danelle van Zyl-Hermann, University of Basel
    Global Health in historical perspective: The past in the present?
  • Dr. Frédéric Vagneron, University of Strasbourg
    Research topic: History of medicine and health, of the relation of human health and animal health
  • Prof. Dr. Jing Wang, ETH Zurich
    Understanding airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2

Prof. Dr. Carmen Faso, SSTMP, University of Bern,
Dr. Lucienne Tritten, SSTMP, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute,
Prof. Dr. Hubert Steinke, SSHMN, University of Bern,
Prof. Dr. Flurin Condrau, SSHMN, University of Zurich,
Prof. Dr. Pilar Junier, SSM, University of Neuchâtel,
Prof. Dr. Pascal Mäser, LS2, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute,
Caroline Reymond, SCNAT, Platform Biology

The 3-days course takes place in the hotel Rigi-Kulm on top of the Rigi Mountain, one of the most scenic places in Switzerland, from the 29th to 31st of January 2023.

Who can apply?
PhD students and Postdocs from all Swiss institutions of higher education. Please contact your doctoral school for the accreditation of ECTS which we estimate at 2 ECTS. Masters students applications are also considered.

Programme and Registrations
The programme is available here.

Registrations are finished.

The registration fee is CHF 150.– and includes housing and meals. Please register online and submit your abstract of research and a short letter of motivation by 31 October 2022. The organizing committee will select up to 30 outstanding applicants.

  • Programme Rigi Workshop 2023
  • Organisers Rigi Workshop 2023
  • Rigi Workshop 2023 - Infectious Diseases as Drivers of Change
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  • Organisers Rigi Workshop 20232/3
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Caroline Reymond
Platform Biology
House of Academies
PO Box
3001 Bern

The courses will be held in English.
Languages: English