19-03-2019 | Ομιλία Προέδρου του ΙΚΥ στo Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο

Χαιρετισμός Προέδρου του ΙΚΥ στην εκδήλωση Greece-Poland: Exchange Study Opportunities Erasmus+ and Beyond”, Αμφιθέατρο «Άλκης Αργυριάδης», Εθνικό και Καποδιστριακό Πανεπιστήμιο Αθηνών, 19 Μαρτίου 2019

Dear Rectors and Vice-Rectors,

Dear Professors,

Dear speakers,

Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to welcome to this conference our guests from Poland to the city of Athens.

A city that is famous for its contribution to arts, civilization and science, but a city that has been famous as well, for incidents of bad practices in the implementation of Academic freedom. An element that leads me to the first one we have in common with you, our Polish guests.

We all know that Poland has one of the Oldest Universities of New Europe based in Krakow.

The same can be said about Athens, which has one of the first Universities of the Antiquity: Not far from here lie the ruins of Plato's Academy, a place that we might easily consider to be one of the first Universities of the antiquity, where, we can imagine as being Socrates’ field of frequent teaching- action by hiking and walk.

Nonetheless, a little further to the South, one can visit the cave that was used as his prison in which he drank the conium. So, it is not very wrong to say that we have here in Athens, one of the darkest examples of persecution of ideas and leading someone to death for academic matters. Something for what Copernicus did not suffer, but it happened to his ideas of Heliocentrism about 50 years later to Galileo.

Let me mention some other common things we share as Nations within European Union:

We both occupy borders in the eastern part of Europe. Thus, we are of the first to face the Wars and their outcomes (e.g. phenomena of multitude waves of refugees and new immigrants).

  • The selective or arbitrary closure of borders in Europe and North America.

A phenomenon that will affect the free movement of people and ideas. Probably the Academic freedom.

We are countries that have both made many sacrifices during the last war in the struggle for freedom.

The 21st century found both our Nations together with the rest of Europe after the fall of the Wall, in a state of freedom, optimism and euphoria, and the belief that such regrettable situations had been left behind us. Unfortunately, the economic crisis that followed, combined with wars within and next door, and the new conditions that came with the new era, showed us that the academic freedom and the free movement of ideas can easily be threatened or abandoned by factors such as:

  • The rise of authoritarian and/or semi-educated leaders, getting into power, often, through legal or semi-legal procedures.
  • The economic poverty and the restrictions introduced to many scholars for their capacity to apply independent and satisfactory research practices.
  • The development of new technologies and the globalized trafficking of uncontrolled pseudo- information.

It seems that the use of new, fast growing New Techs has produced students who need instant feedback and participation. Today's students are hard to sit and listen to a lecture or a laboratory work, passively, without actively participating.

They deserve active learning procedures that include Decision making actions to participate in group learning actions, in projects, etc. all that make-up contemporary student learning teaching.

But most of all, they need to learn how to sieve and evaluate the information. How to distinguish the scientific truth and scientific products from gossip and misinformation.

It seems that we live in a new era where the development of new technologies, social media, and a situation of globalization, have favored the faster proliferation of misinformation from the information itself. The miss-Knowledge to sound knowledge. The new instruments are conducive to manipulation of information and its transformation into Para- information.

There are numerous examples of such instances:

We experienced recently a situation where the notion that we, Greeks, Portuguese, Italians Irish and Spaniards, are all PIGS. The idea travelled and dominated so fast. And in a short time we experienced the reverse path. Within three years we became PIGS and good people again. We Greeks, in one year we were declared as the kings of laziness and, later-on, we were recognized as the people who work more than everyone, again.

How about the image of Economism? That everything is economy. It has replaced the idea of a United Europe that was built upon humanitarian values. I invite you to think on how the idea that everything is monetarism prevailed so fast in recent years in the Metropolis of enlightenment and cultural values i.e. Europe. We have to wonder about how the ideology of racism and fascism in such large extents took in such a short time throughout the old continent. How we have built walls so fast on the continent of Democracy and solidarity? All together, I believe that what we call Education has to become Literate, Paedia again.

So, Welcome again, and good listening!

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