Some Thoughts on Enlightenment facing COVID-19

When Johns Hopkins University, the leading institution of today’s COVID-19 statistics, was founded in 1876, it was America’s first research university which combined research and teaching on the model of German universities, in particular the renowned University of Heidelberg. Intererestingly, both institutions nowadays play a crucial role in fighting COVID-19 and are combined with swarm intelligence based research tools such as Nextstrain or the online map developed by the University of Heidelberg that shows the global research activities on coronavirus. Let’s delve deeper an have a look at their historical origins.

Source: Genomic epidemiology of novel coronavirus – Global subsampling

While Heidelberg has a long tradition of medical research dating back to 1386, Johns Hopkins University is about 500 years younger, as it was founded in 1876. Based on the antique-medieval model of the “Septem Artes Liberales”, Heidelberg offered his students a common philosophical ground, which then led to specialization in one of the three faculties theology, jurisprudence, and medicine. On the contrary, the ethical foundations of Johns Hopkins can be found in 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was pronounced by Thomas Jefferson, the later 3rd President of the United States.

The Declaration itself states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Facing COVID-19 and the different situation considering health insurance systems in Europe and the United States, the question is, how can health care not be covered under Life and the pursuit of Happiness?

Source: National Archives, The Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson’s original approach in creation the Ideal University was to bring in European education to the United States that could break the chains of colonial intellectual oppression with the ideals of enlightenment based on the theories of Francis Bacon, John Locke, or David Hume. Jefferson himself sent his daughters to Paris, while some of his compatriots preferred Geneva for their boys’ education. In his vision, education was key in order to develop an independent nation that was capable to successfully persist against England:

Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States.

The 1819 established University of Virginia (UVA) stood at the end of Jefferson’s vision and the beginning of his goal of an Academical Village. The campus ground was based in Charlottesville and was not only revolutionary in the area of medical education but also offered the first college in the United States to teach economics. Jefferson’s primary mission was to prepare the republic’s leaders, and second, helping to establish a primary and secondary system in order to educate citizens. In the long run, UVA played an eminent role for developing medical research in the United States and was vital for the formation of Johns Hopkins University, too. Let’s hope that in the spirit of the Enlightenment, with all the research expertise in the United States, Europe and the rest of the world, we will defeat COVID-19 together: “The Free Spirit shall never die!”


For further reading: John A. Ragosta / Peter S. Onuf / Andrew J. O’Shaughnessy (Editors): The Founding of Thomas Jefferson’s University, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville / London 2019 (Jeffersonian America). Amazon

He measures the «Groove» of a Company

Daniel C. Schmid_Boeblingen
Boeblingen Business Weeks, Copyright: Markus Schwarz,

This article is the English translation of an Interview with Guy Studer, editor-in-chief, INLINE, FH SCHWEIZ 02/2020

When things do not go as well as desired in companies, Daniel C. Schmid’s services are often called upon. He feels the pulse of an organization, measures its groove. He is particularly fond of the references to jazz. Even the agreement to talk to Daniel C. Schmid is untypical. After the mail inquiry to him, the phone rings minutes later. He spontaneously agrees to a meeting, uncomplicated and soon. With a lecturer and sought-after speakers, one would hardly expect such prompt feedback. A few days later, during the conversation in the café, Schmid will explain in another context:

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«Take the Long Way Home» – A Brief Guide to Traveling in the Digital Age

"Baedeker", ancestor of the "Loney Planet Guide"

(Original article in German, published in NZZ, 24/25 August 2019).

Was it the same before your holiday? You spent hours browsing through various online catalogs, virtually tracing your itinerary with Google Maps and booking your hotel directly after ensuring that it was in the best location with Street View. Of course, Tripadvisor or Holidaycheck rankings provided all relevant insider information regarding service quality and menu, so that your stomach was well prepared for what awaited it at its destination. And finally, did you also get the dull feeling that you had already experienced everything before you started your journey?

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«What is Groove, Yaron Gershovsky?» Lessons in Organizational Development from Jazz

This post is an adapted an extended version of the paper “Twelve-Tone Music Reloaded”: 12 Lessons in Rotating Leadership and Organizational Development from Jazz by Daniel C. Schmid and Peter A. Gloor, MIT, and founder of

Yaron Gershovsky, The Manhattan Transfer, with the Author, JazzNoJazz Festival Zurich, 31 October 2018.

Recently, Jazz improvisation has become a part of the “Holy grail” in Organizational Development, above all under so-called VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) conditions. Effective leadership of the future will be based on relationship building, understanding complex group work, and diverse workforces. For future leaders, it will be key to gain a deeper understanding of the constantly evolving complexities of interpersonal, group and even intergroup relationships.

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Edgar H. Schein: «The Spirit of Inquiry»

Ed Schein together with his mother, Hildegard, and his father, Marcel Schein, ca. 1936. Photograph courtesy of Edgar H. Schein.

This work presents a collection of original essays composed by friends and ­colleagues of Edgar H. Schein. Each of the fifteen essays in its own way honors Ed’s invigorating and path breaking contributions – over six decades – to several scholarly and applied fields in the social sciences. To those familiar with the sweep of Ed Schein’s work, this collection serves as a testimony to its continuing relevance and usefulness. To those unfamiliar with all or parts of the work, this collection will serve as a crisp but helpful introduction.

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