Four out­stand­ing indi­vid­u­als were invit­ed to dis­cuss this year’s top­ic with ACADEMIA SUPERIOR. The two days of intense talks about polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, social, bio­log­i­cal and artis­tic aspects of free­dom were mod­er­at­ed by Alan Web­ber and Markus Hengstschläger. Also at the dis­cus­sions: Mem­bers of the sci­en­tif­ic board and the Young Acad­e­mia, chair­man Michael Strugl and the Gov­er­nor of Upper Aus­tria Josef Pühringer.

About 700 guests and numer­ous media rep­re­sen­ta­tives flocked to the SURPRISE FACTORS SYMPOSIUMS 2016; the evening event which kicks off the sixth oper­a­tive year of ACADEMIA SUPERIOR in the Toscana Con­gress Cen­ter in Gmunden, in the Aus­tri­an Fed­er­al State of Upper Aus­tria. The mot­to of the evening was: “Where does free­dom start and where does it end”, which saw Lech Wałe­sa Nobel Peace Prize win­ner and lead­ing fig­ure in the fight against com­mu­nism talk about his per­son­al expe­ri­ence and the neces­si­ty to make a stand for uphold­ing freedom.

Dur­ing the day, anoth­er four experts shared knowl­edge of their respec­tive areas of exper­tise in in-depth discussions.

Anna Kamen­skaya gave some insight into her per­son­al expe­ri­ence as a mar­ket­ing spe­cial­ist and talked about how (lack of) free­dom was han­dled in her coun­try of ori­gin, the for­mer Sovi­et Union and how it is han­dled in her present home­town of Hong Kong.

Uffe Elbæk point­ed out what free­dom means in a Europe which is increas­ing­ly put under pres­sure, while Gabriele Fis­ch­er, addic­tion spe­cial­ist, shed light on a total­ly dif­fer­ent aspect of free­dom: the role of indi­vid­ual free­dom in rela­tion to addiction.

Author Wolf Won­dratschek com­ple­ment­ed the cir­cle of experts with his artis­tic per­spec­tive say­ing that absolute free­dom does not exist.

As always, Markus Hengstschläger, Head of the Advi­so­ry Board and Sci­en­tif­ic Direc­tor of ACADEMIA SUPERIOR pre­sent­ed and chaired the pan­el dis­cus­sions togeth­er with the for­mer Edi­tor in Chief of the Har­vard Busi­ness Review and founder of Fast Com­pa­ny, Alan Webber.

Outcomes of the expert panels

Once again it was aca­d­e­m­ic dia­logue and the pas­sion and curios­i­ty to explore new avenues which formed the focus of the SURPRISE FACTORS SYMPOSIUM. Although the experts’ views on free­dom were rather diverse, they all agreed that tak­ing on respon­si­bil­i­ty was a firm pre­req­ui­site for free­dom, since your indi­vid­ual free­dom ends the minute you hand over respon­si­bil­i­ty for it to some­body else. Since time immemo­r­i­al, human beings have strived for free­dom and for keep­ing it.

And yet, they often vol­un­tar­i­ly give up their free­dom: for var­i­ous per­son­al ben­e­fits, for sup­posed safe­ty and secu­ri­ty. Often in human his­to­ry the free­dom which has been fought for so hard sud­den­ly becomes not so impor­tant any­more and is exchanged for some­thing alleged­ly more valu­able or more usable.
Pol­i­tics needs to take on the respon­si­bil­i­ty to cre­ate suit­able frame­work con­di­tions in order to not allow free­dom to fall behind. Pol­i­tics should pro­vide direc­tion, but at the same time enough room for each and every individual’s free­dom. Too many frame­work con­di­tions bring about a lack of free­dom, con­verse­ly, the same is true for insuf­fi­cient frame­work conditions.

Pol­i­tics has the duty to care for the free­dom of soci­ety and hence it walks a very fine line between state reg­u­la­tions and dereg­u­la­tion, between safe­ty and freedom.

More­over, the task of pol­i­tics is to pro­vide guid­ance and sup­port to its peo­ple. Because lack of guid­ance caus­es fear and depen­dence and both are great ene­mies of free­dom. How­ev­er, soci­ety also needs to take on respon­si­bil­i­ty, hence it not only needs to con­tribute to its own free­dom but also to the free­dom of others.

If we want to keep, expand, pro­tect and strength­en free­dom in Upper Aus­tria and beyond, then we need to join forces – for the sake of our­selves and for every­body who wants to live in free­dom in Upper Aus­tria and in the world.