AΩ International online magazine  
Issue 12, September 2009
homepage > The Athens Dialogues: An International Conference on Culture & Civilization
The Athens Dialogues: An International Conference on Culture & Civilization
The Organizing Committee of The Athens Dialogues, consisting of forty distinguished members of the Greek and international academia convened for the first time in Athens on April 3-5, 2009.
An international dialogue on Greek culture and its role in modern society has begun in Athens, on the initiative of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, with a view to organizing an international symposium in collaboration with seven acclaimed inquiring institutions in Europe and the United States of America: the University of Oxford, the Institut de France, the German Archaeological Institute, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Accademia dei Lincei, the University of Harvard (Center for Hellenic Studies), and the University of Stanford.
 

The international symposium The Athens Dialogues will take place from the 24th to the 27th of November 2010 on the occasion of the inauguration of the Foundation’s Onassis House of Arts and Letters.

Greek culture is one of the principal foundations of the common humanistic inheritance of the world. Indeed, many of the questions addressed by great thinkers in Athens, Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, where the Greek language and civilization were adopted, have become part of the very fabric of the respective cultures of peoples throughout the world. They continue to remain the basis of political, philosophical, artistic, scientific and cultural discourse, or ‘dialogues’, throughout the world. This includes those geographical areas and scientific disciplines that do not have any obvious link to the Roman, Christian or European expressions of the Greek tradition.  This legacy has the potential to work as a source for solutions to challenges that the world faces today and to those that it will inevitably come to face. The world today and, even more importantly, of tomorrow, is no less a ‘pond’ than the Mediterranean See was at that time. The ‘mare nostrum’ has become the ‘terra nostra’. 

Professors Eleni Glykatzi- Ahrweiler, rector and president of the University of Europe, Rush Rehm Full Professor of Classics and Drama, University of Stanford , Gregory Nagy, Director of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC and Dame Averil Cameron, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History, Warden of Keble College, Oxford University.
Professors Eleni Glykatzi- Ahrweiler, rector and president of the University of Europe, Rush Rehm Full Professor of Classics and Drama, University of Stanford , Gregory Nagy, Director of the Harvard Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington DC and Dame Averil Cameron, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History, Warden of Keble College, Oxford University.

Of course, new problems have appeared. Since ancient times thinkers in Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America, the Arab world, the Orient and India, and indeed throughout the world, have each added to our understanding. To be of interest to the world at large and to hope to address the challenges of tomorrow in particular, a conference could not focus solely on ancient Greek culture and its ‘importance’. It would be self-defeating, and fail in its objective to attract the younger generation that has not been exposed to classical studies as well as peoples in those countries outside Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean. The conference’s aim is the exact opposite. The Athens Dialogues will be considered to have been successful if, when they end, the participants return home with a greater understanding of the wider issues and the deeper causes of the challenges currently facing the modern world. 

The organizing and scientific committee consists of 40 prominent members of the Greek and international scholarly community. The conference will tackle issues that preoccupy the modern man on the basis of Hellenic thinking. The novelty of the conference is pursued through the following ways:

  • The multidisciplinary / interdisciplinary approach of all thematic units
  • The diachronic sense of Hellenic thinking, as it has been formed throughout the years
  • The innovative organizational structure of the conference which starts early in the period of preparation through the web portal

Placed at the heart of the dialogue, the issues faced by modern man will be examined on the basis of classical Hellenic thinking and its evolution over the centuries. What is sought is to trigger a fruitful reflection which is expected to develop not only while the conference is being held but also during its preparation.

Members of the Board of Directors Apostolos Zabelas, Paul Ioannidis, Marianna Moschou, Ioannis Ioannidis, Paraskevas Ioannidis and Loukas Tsilas attended the meeting.
Members of the Board of Directors Apostolos Zabelas, Paul Ioannidis, Marianna Moschou, Ioannis Ioannidis, Paraskevas Ioannidis and Loukas Tsilas attended the meeting.

The six thematic sessions of the conference will be: Identity and Difference, Stories and History, Word and Art, Democracy and Governance, Sciences and Ethics and Quality of Life.

The conference aims to become known to the wider public and, above all, to reach young people not only through the web portal which is to operate soon but also through its organizational structure which encourages both the dialogue and the exchange of views at all stages of the conference’s preparation. The conference’s portal will include, through a world map (google map), all the Greek Studies Chairs worldwide as well as those researchers who use Hellenic thinking as a pillar of reflection on the approach of their subject knowledge. In addition, there will be pre-publishment of the conference’s main announcements [in late May 2010] in order to allow time for an open and fruitful dialogue -open to the wider public- concerning the six thematic sessions.

Anthony Papadimitriou with the president of the Organizing Committee, professor George Babiniotis, and scientific coordinator Niki Tsironi.
Anthony Papadimitriou with the president of the Organizing Committee, professor George Babiniotis, and scientific coordinator Niki Tsironi.

Among its main speakers, the conference is intended to include scientists, artists, journalists, philosophers, creators and intellectuals who approach Greek civilization in a modern and creative spirit. The speakers as well as the public will attend the symposium by invitation only. However, the meeting will be available to watch through the web portal.

 
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