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Humanities in Greece in a dilemma

14 November 2010 / 13:11:26  GRReporter
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Emanuela Karastoyanova


At a crossroad are the humanities in Greece which still follow an outdated educational model, for which now they have to pay quite expensive price... For two decades, the knowledge that is available does not meet the demands of the labor market. The desire of the students on the other hand is for this to finally happen, but... without paying for their education. This problem and the role of humanities and sociological sciences in the modern Greek reality has become the subject of discussion during the meeting between teachers and researchers from Greek, European and American universities, which was held at the Athens University. The discussion forum was organized by the magazine HISTOREIN, which traditionally intervenes in current events by putting in motion a series of discussions.

According to the people gathered there, the number one goal now is to analyze the nature of the changes in higher education in the country and the role that teachers must play in this regard. An important task, as people from the HISTOREIN claim, is "to draw the conditions in which we react and fight to which we must proceed to".

In conversations about the role of the university and the humanities with examples from the 19th century, from 1960 -1970 years and from the 21st century when were raised the questions as the one of Antonis Molho about whether universities will be able to do research if the governments of the European Union changing them as they believe is necessary? And if not, who from today's society will be able to undertake this responsible task. According to Molhos, another question that must be addressed is that about the place of humanities in university education in democratic societies today. The critical times in which the humanities are placed at the end of the first decade of the 21st century is the result of social and economic changes over the last two decades. In Greece, the social, political and cultural roles of higher education have changed radically and... these changes are disturbing the academic world. They are currently the subject of rivalries between teachers, researchers and students.

 "The University is a workshop, which builds community, its history and culture". According to Costas Gavroglou the importance of the humanities is being undermined because of the imposed logic of evaluation by the natural sciences, where a major criterion is the quantity and faith in the objectivity of numbers. "The specific method of evaluation turns everything in numbers" - he said. "In today's world the numbers dominate everywhere and can be used in any way..." The humanities do not ask "how much" and "how". They tech critique, reflection, analysis and explain the world from human perspective.

Over time the attitude towards knowledge is changing. Since 1990 it has changed "paradigmatically". It has become capital, an element of the economy. The University has also become part of the economy. That is why Greek humanitarian education should consider what it wants and how to cope with new external factors, urge the teachers. If the state, however, does not sponsor humanities, they are doomed to death. Humanitarian knowledge, "purchased" in a private university on the other hand it will become a "commercial product" and universities will become businesses, they argue.

The situation is a critical. Students insist that education should meet the needs of the labor market, something which is currently far from happening. But how do you do this, when the educational system is outdated, cumbersome and highly inefficient? Teachers in turn insist that the humanities should be seen as a public good, available to everyone, not just the people favored in terms of means...

The discussion was attended among others: Costas Gavroglou, professor of history of science at the University of Athens, Antonis Liakos, professor of history at the University of Athens, Ioanna Laliotou, lecturer in modern history at the University of Thessaly, Polimeris Voglis, professor of contemporary history at the University of Thessaly, Rica Benveniste professor of medieval history at the University of Thessaly, Eleni Varika, professor of political science in Paris and researcher at the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique, Ricky Van Boushoten, professor of anthropology at the University of Thessaly.

Tags: humanities Greece University of Athens science reforms paid education
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