GREECE: Harvard in Greece

Harvard University's centre for Hellenic studies is to open a branch in Greece, the first outside the US. The intercultural research institute will seek to connect its own humanistic pursuits with the homeland of Hellenism and to promote greater understanding of Hellenic civilisation by fostering research at all levels by bringing its academic resources to Greece.

The centre, to be inaugurated later this month, will be based in a splendid neo-classical building, a renovated former town hall, in the historic city of Naflion, in the north-east part of Peloponessos, 150 kilometres south of Athens. Naflion is one of the most picturesque cities in Greece.

At a press conference, president of the super-modern technological research centre, Professor John Petropoulos, said: "Harvard will be the new neighbour in the area but it will not award any study titles and will not impose tuition fees."

This was a clear reference to the raging controversy regarding titles awarded by branches of foreign colleges in Greece and the expressed intention of the Greek government to award university status to foreign institutions.

The aim of the centre is to strengthen the bonds between Europe and Greece and, in particular, between Peloponessos and a world-renowned educational organisation such as Harvard. The centre will be extremely well-equipped for research and development as well as distance learning.

It will provide education and training programmes for Harvard's graduates and for Greek citizens interested in following and participating in its activities.

Apart form running a large variety of events, lectures, seminars and conferences, the centre will also provide free of charge complete internet access to Harvard's network of libraries, as well as to a host of other data banks containing articles, encyclopaedias, books and magazines relevant to Greek literature and letters, and the social and human sciences

Archaeologists will also find a number of innovative ways and programmes to further their studies and record their discoveries. They will have the opportunity to use a large number of state-of-the-art tools, have access to data banks for planning museum exhibitions, and real-time video recordings of excavations.

Harvard University's centre for Hellenic studies was founded in 1962 in Washington DC "exclusively for the establishment of an education centre in the field of Hellenic studies designed to rediscover the humanism of the Hellenic Greeks".

The centre is trying to honour its remit by bringing together a variety of research and teaching interests based on Hellenic civilisation in the widest sense. Included in this concept is the evolution of the Greek language and its culture as a central point of contact for all the different civilisations of the ancient Mediterranean world, interaction with foreign cultures, including the diffusion of the Roman influence.