The Director General of iASK, Professor Ferenc Miszlivetz, received an invitation to participate in the Neumann 120 Conference held in the United States. He gave his presentation in New York and made official visits to educational and research institutions located in various cities alongside Dr Márton Matyasovszky-Németh, Director of the István Bibó College for Advanced Studies. In addition to attending international conferences, the main goal of the week-long program was to establish connections and initiate shared ventures and partnerships with academic community representatives in the United States. Before the study trip, professional meetings were conducted, and the iASK delegation was received at several highly significant institutions. Additionally, they participated in a working dinner hosted by Hungarian American organizations and a visit from the ambassador.
On Tuesday, November 7th, they met with Mary Taylor, associate director of the Center for Place, Culture and Politics at the City University of New York, Graduate Center, New York. Taylor’s book “Movement of the People Hungarian Folk Dance, Populism, and Citizenship”, published by Indiana University Press in 2021, traces the history of the Hungarian dance hall movement. In her research, she has paid particular attention to the history and the conditions of Hungarian civil society. The researcher was well acquainted with Iván Vitányi, who was mentioned several times in her book as a figure who supported and defended the development of the dance hall movement and civil society. Taylor mentioned that she tries to visit Hungary every year and wants to continue her ethnographic research, which she completed in 2008. She plans to publish the reactions and reviews of her book in a special issue of Acta Ethnographica Hungarica and to organise a workshop for her critics to give their views on the book.
On the same day, discussions resumed at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute. Professor Miszlivetz who was a visiting professor at the Institute’s Center for Eastern and Central Europe in 2012, was greeted by Professor Valentina Izmirlieva, the Institute’s Director and a Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature. After introducing the iASK, the conversation shifted towards the Black Sea Networks project and a campaign to endorse Eastern European literature.
The Black Sea Networks project unites social scientists and climate researchers to evaluate the cultural, social, and historical legacy of the Black Sea region and identify its most critical environmental and political issues. Izmirlieva stated that her institute faces difficulties conducting truly interdisciplinary research due to the challenge of interdisciplinary collaboration among researchers from various scientific backgrounds.
The promotion of Eastern European literature has been a priority for the Harriman Institute since Izmirlieva’’ appointment in 2022. The Writer in Residence program, already underway, will continue, and an Eastern European writer will be granted a six-week fellowship at the institute. László Krasznahorkai, among others, was a fellow of the Harriman Institute. Izmirlieva proposed that the Harriman Institute should provide support for the yearly release of two English translations of fiction from the region through Columbia University Press. The program seeks Eastern European institutions’ aid in selecting and translating one volume every five years. The iASK may contribute to the initiative, allowing the Institute to partake in an international project aimed at promoting Hungarian literature.
During their visit, Professor Miszlivetz and Matyasovszky-Németh met with Hana Kassem, one of the owner-partners, and Kamilla Csegzi, a Hungarian Transylvanian associate of the Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF) architectural firm. Established in 1976, KPF has vast experience in designing research facilities, including the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center, and University of Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute. The firm is dedicated to offering architectural solutions that adopt a multifaceted approach to design, considering the local cultural heritage and community needs. The company’s personnel typically participate in project evaluations alongside the architects who created the initial designs. They perform an extensive investigation that spans multiple weeks of fieldwork before designing as part of their modus operandi. The company has expressed considerable enthusiasm for the iASK-ISC complex and has also embraced the notion of the ISC building becoming an essential component of the KRAFT program. The design firm would be pleased to visit the sites in Kőszeg, particularly the former State Railway Orphanage, currently being renovated into the Synergy Campus.
On Wednesday evening, the delegates of iASK attended a reception at the Hungarian Consulate General to kick off the three-day John von Neumann 120 Conference. The Science and Innovation Attaché of Hungary, Tamás Novák, welcomed the attendees. The reception featured a screening of a 1966 documentary about Neumann’s life. Attendees had the chance to meet with Szabolcs Márka, a professor at Columbia University, and Charles Vorosmarty, the founding director of the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center Environmental Sciences Initiative, and Ferenc Friedler, the rector of Széchenyi István University in Győr.
On Thursday, the primary professional event of the conference occurred at the auditorium of New York University Langdone Health Center. The conference centered on von Neumann’s influence on scientific research. An exception to the conference was the roundtable discussion titled “Can We Survive Technology?” which was initiated by Ferenc Miszlivetz, chaired by Charles Vorosmarty, and attended by Professor Miszlivetz, Katalin Fehér, a researcher in the philosophy of science at the National University of Public Service, Pál Maliga, a professor of plant genetics at Rutgers University, and Bence Ságvári, a sociologist and visiting scholar at Indiana University. The session discussing the ethical responsibility of Neumann and the Manhattan Project participants was unique among the conference’s discussions.
The second day of the conference ended with a reception organized by the Tulipán Foundation, a cultural organization for New York Hungarians, held at the National Museum of Mathematics. The event included a lecture by Ananyo Bhattacharya, author of The Man from the Future.
On Friday, the Consulate General organised a visit to the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where Neumann worked with Einstein, Gödel, Oppenheimer and many other eminent researchers. During the visit, the Director of Communications of the Institute offered a comprehensive tour of its main building, Fuld Hall, in addition to the Institute’s library and park. Furthermore, the archivist delivered a presentation on the history of the Institute’s cybernetics research. David Nirenberg, a historian and current director of the Institute, welcomed Ferenc Miszlivetz into the former office of Robert Oppenheimer.
Professor Miszlivetz visited Washington D.C. over the weekend at the invitation Ilan Chabay, a research professor of Arizona State University (ASU). Chabay is of Hungarian-Jewish descent, and his father, an opera singer, fled Nazism to Switzerland then the United States. Chabay has been committed to academic research and continued involvement with iASK.
Ilan Chabay, an external researcher for the iASK for several years, initiated a meeting on November 13 at the ASU Institute in Washington, D.C. with Director Arthur Daemmrich. The KRAFT program and development and research results were presented, as they were in all previous meetings. At each meeting, there was unanimous positive feedback regarding the novelty and achievement of a concept that integrates cultural heritage in urban and rural development through an institutional approach.
The “KRAFT” methodology has been elevated to the level of a national development program with support from the Hungarian government. Leaders from the University of Bonn, the UN University, and the Vatican Academy of Sciences have recognized its value. Involving these institutions in the development and operation of the International Synergy Campus is crucial.
Ferenc Miszlivetz, Ilan Chabay, and Lori Chabay were the guests of Ambassador Szabolcs Takács for dinner. They discussed the possible inclusion of iASK in the 2024 series of events commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Holocaust.
The plans also entailed presenting iASK’s significant accomplishments and advancements in New York and Washington next spring. Both the Ambassador and Attaché Tamás Novák expressed their support for this proposal.
On the pictures: Columbia University, New York University Langdone Health Center, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and some of the buildings and landmarks of New York and Washington DC
The featured image shows the roundtable discussion “Can We Survive Technology?”, chaired by Charles Vorosmarty, with Professor Miszlivetz, Katalin Fehér, Pál Maliga, Bence Ságvári