The Athens Dialogues

The immigration challenge

22 September 2012
Upper Stage
Prominent scientists from around the world as well as from Greece will participate in this event.
Entrance free on a first come, first served basis


Alexander S. Onassis Foundation Cultural Center in cooperation with the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens organizes a one-day workshop entitled The Immigration Challenge on Saturday September 22nd 2012 from 9.30 until 17.30 at the Onassis Cultural Centre/Athens. Prominent scientists from around the world as well as from Greece will participate in this event.

Modern societies experience rapid political and economic changes such as the economic crisis, the new social movements, the rise of unemployment, poverty, new epidemics etc. As a result, they are expected to adopt a new attitude towards today’s responsibilities and tomorrow’s challenges. These conditions as well as the transitional and turbulent context, in which modern societies have found themselves, render the need to re-examine the issue of immigration quite urgent.

This workshop aims at creating a communication channel where different opinions will be expressed by representatives of the political and social sciences, the humanities and the arts, thus allowing for a fruitful and creative dialogue on the issue of immigration, to be seen as a challenge within the new conditions that have been formed on an international level and with a strong presence in Greece today as well.

The workshop is part of the wider problematic in Platonic philosophy that questions the responsibility of the state and focuses on today’s responsibilities and tomorrow's challenges.

The discussion will focus on four thematic sessions which will attempt to analyze the immigration challenge: social sciences, education, urban landscape and art.

The Athens Dialogues
This one day workshop is part of the Athens Dialogues project, organized by the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation in collaboration with eight world class academic institutions (the Institut de France, the Academia dei Lincei, the University of Oxford, Stanford University, the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the Deutsches Archäologisches Institut, the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard and the Academy of Athens) and held at the Onassis Cultural Centre in November 2010, with the participation of prominent scientists from all over the world. The beginning of this scientific and cultural project was highly received on an international level while more than 50,000 people watched the conference live through the internet.

The Athens Dialogues is an ongoing project, which is also continued through the electronic scientific journal entitled the Athens Dialogues e-journal. The e-journal is edited by the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University while Professor Gregory Nagy is the editor in chief. This pioneering electronic platform, which was designed especially for the Athens Dialogues, publishes the essays and the presentations of the speakers as well as the open dialogue between the audience and the scientists, through an application that signals a new era for electronic media. The texts are enriched with various links and can be used in multiple ways.

In the new phase of the Athens Dialogues project, which started in 2011 with the one-day conference that was organized in Columbia University, NY, an emphasis is given to the problems that concern modern man and the world that will have been formed within the next few decades. This event, which approaches the burning issue of immigration, is part of this context. The issue of “Today’s Responsibilities – Tomorrow’s Challenges” was also examined at the one-day conference at Columbia University, with the collaboration of Karen van Dyck and the participation of important scientists such as Mark Mazower, Helene Foley, Peter Meineck, Gregory Nagy, Andreas Kalyvas et al. The success of the event was apparent judging from the participation of a various audience.

Three annual events have been planned for 2012 and 2013 both in Greece and abroad. In 2012 three one-day workshops have been scheduled. The issues that will be examined are Immigration (Onassis Cultural Centre, September 22nd), Science, Technology and Ethics (Harvard University, November 3rd) and Digital Technology with an emphasis on democracy and education (Onassis Cultural Centre, December 1st).

The Boston event, organized in collaboration with Harvard University, is expected to be of particular importance. The relationship between science, technology and ethics will be examined from the diachronic perspective of philosophy, medicine and art and in relation to the rapid changes in the field of exact sciences. Amongst the participants are Ruth Faden (Johns Hopkins University), George Khushf (University of South Carolina), Albert Borgmann (University of Montana), Sean Kelly (Harvard University) and Costis Daskalakis (MIT).

Greek Cogitation Colloquia: Experiential Learning Programs:
The one day workshop is implemented in the framework of the project “Greek Cogitation Colloquia: Experiential Learning Programs” which is co-financed by European Social Fund and National funds through the Operational Programme Education and Lifelong Learning. The project aims at life-long learning of all people through a wide range of experiential activities, opening new ways of thinking and reflecting issues of global and enduring interest, focusing on the Greek way of thinking and the geographic location of "Plato's Academy".

The project "Greek Cogitation Colloquia: Experiential Learning Programs" has been designed by the Alexander S. Onassis Cultural Foundation and is implemented in collaboration with the National University of Athens as a “project in progress and in motion”. Leading thinkers, scholars, scientists, artists and intellectuals from around the world will participate in public conferences, debates, educational activities, training programs, workshops and experiential learning programs.

Experiential learning programs include the following actions:
(A) Talks and Thoughts
(B) Visual Dialogues
(C) Workshops
(D) Parallel activities
and appeal mainly to adults (teachers, scholars, students and general public). The duration of the program is 24 months, will be implemented throughout three years (2012-2014) and will culminate in 2013 (European Year of Plato).

The Workshops’ Experiential Learning Program consists of a series of actions, where the Greek way of thinking is inherent to contemporary realities and new media. The implemented workshops are designed to familiarize participants with concepts of Greek cogitation and Greek philosophy in a way that relates to the modern currents of intellectual and artistic creation. The ultimate goal of these workshops is to explore in depth through original outlook of the general topic "Τoday’s responsibilities, tomorrow’s challenges".

Click here to download the programme (.pdf file)


The speakers for each session are the following:
Social Sciences
Chair: Professor Konstandinos Tsoukalas (University of Athens)
Speakers: Professor Riva Kastoryano (CNRS, Paris) and Professor George Prevelakis (Sorbonne, Paris I)
Respondent: Nikodemos Maina Kiniwa

Chair: Professor George Babiniotis (former dean University of Athens)
Speakers: Professor Leonie Herwartz-Emden (University of Augsburg) and Professor Thalia Dragona (University of Athens)
Respondent: Christina Veikou

Urban Landscape
Chair: Professor Yannis Polyzos (National Technical University of Athens)
Speakers: Professor Guy Burgel (Paris Ouest-Nanterre) and Professor Panayotis Tournikiotis (National Technical University of Athens)
Respondent: Thomas Maloutas

Chair: Professor-artist Vana Xenou (National Technical University of Athens)
Speakers: Professor Ulrike Hanna Meinhof (University of Southampton) and Mihalis Afolayan (ΑSANTE, ANASA)
Respondent: Heracles Moskoff

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Entrance to all the events in the “Talks and Thoughts” Cycle is free and on a first come, first served basis.
The distribution of entrance tickets begins one (1) hour before each event.
Simultaneous translation is provided in the case of speakers using a language other than Greek.

The "Talks & Thoughts" events are also live streamed on
The videos are also available after the end of the shows.