Event Date/Time: Nov 24, 2010 End Date/Time: Nov 27, 2010
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The Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation organizes an international conference entitled The Athens Dialogues. The conference will be held in Athens on 24-27 November 2010 and it is planned as the inaugurating event of the Onassis Cultural Centre - Athens, a new cultural space with the fundamental aim of presenting, projecting and encouraging contemporary Greek culture and its dissemination beyond Greece.

The Athens Dialogues conference is organized in collaboration with the Academy of Athens, the Accademia dei Lincei, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the German Archaeological Institute, the Institut de France, the Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies, the University of Oxford and the University of Stanford.


Greek culture is one of the milestones of the universal humanistic inheritance. 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 from ancient up to modern times, have become part of the very fabric of contemporary cultures; they are the basis of political, philosophical, artistic, scientific and cultural discourse or “dialogue” throughout the contemporary world.

The conference aims to explore the potential of this legacy as a source for solutions to challenges that the world faces today and to those that it will inevitably come to face in the future. The principal question it aims to raise is: how can this inheritance be relevant to major changes and shifts in various fields that the contemporary world is undergoing?

The Athens Dialogues, however, will not focus solely on Greek culture and will not confine itself to the western world. The new globalized world is no less a “pond” than the Mediterranean Sea was in ancient times and the “mare nostrum” has indeed become the “terra nostra”. Besides, since ancient times, other great thinkers in Western and Eastern Europe, North and South America, the Arab world, the Orient and India, have each added to human thinking and advanced greatly our understanding. Aiming to have a universal appeal, the conference will seek to include people from “non-western” countries, who will bring their own ideas and perspective into the discourse on major contemporary issues.

Finally, the conference will try to appeal to the younger generations as well, in its attempt to address not only contemporary but also future challenges. Students and young scholars, artists and scientists of various fields will be invited to share their thoughts and concerns and to enter into a dialogue with their heritage which will undoubtedly prove fruitful.

We will consider The Athens Dialogues to have been successful if, when they end, participants return home with a greater understanding of the wider issues and challenges that the world is currently facing and with a greater sense of engagement in the task of addressing them more effectively.


The Conference will focus on the following six thematic sessions which will be approached from a diachronic and interdisciplinary perspective. Themes such as economy, religion and technology will permeate all sessions and for this reason are not included separately.

1. Identity and Difference [Chair: Professor Dame Averil Cameron]
2. Stories and Histories [Chairs: Professors Hans-Joachim Gehrke and Johannes Koder]
3. Word and Art [Chairs: Professors Gregory Nagy and Richard Martin]
4. Democracy and Governance [Chair: Professors Konstantinos Svolopoulos and Ioannis Metaxas]
5. Science and Ethics [Chairs: Professors Athanassios Fokas and Jacques Jouanna]
6. Quality of Life [Chairs: Professors Robert Harriss and Dimitri Nanopoulos]


Representatives of the co-organizing institutions along with eminent personalities of the scholarly world and members of the Greek academic community participate in the organizing committee of the conference presided over by Professor George Babiniotis. Its task is to formulate carefully the questions to be discussed, to propose the most suitable persons to take part in the discussions and to assume responsibility for the broad dissemination of the problems addressed and the aspirations of the conference. The work of the organizing committee is greatly assisted by scholars and intellectuals from all over the world who submit proposals concerning potential speakers and topics. Dr Niki Tsironis (niki.tsironi@gmail.com) has been appointed as the academic co-ordinator of the Conference.

The Athens Dialogues is organized as a working meeting, where not only the speakers and respondents but also the “public” will attend by invitation only. This procedure will ensure the high level of dialogue between the contributors themselves and the public. For best results the organizing committee has decided on the pre-publication of the papers on the net, a procedure that will enable respondents to be prepared for the opening of the dialogue during the days of the conference.

The Onassis Foundation will also be launching a web portal, where all departments of Hellenic Studies will be included along with the universities and research centres conducting important research on Hellenic culture and civilization. The portal aims to become a point of contact and communication between all those who are engaged or interested in the Greek cultural heritage. It will also facilitate the work of the committee as well as the communication among the participants, since key-note papers and comments will be published there long before the actual conference. The portal will continue to be enriched in the future.

The Athens Dialogues are envisaged as an on-going project which will start before the actual conference through its website (www.athensdialogues.org) and will continue after the end of it.

The official languages of the conference will be Greek, English and French.


107-109 Leoforos Syngrou

Additional Information

Participation fee: Standard = Euros 300; Conference fee waived for Students** (BA, MA, MSc, PhD).