Structures, Context and Challenges
14-15 June 2007
London School of Economics
The 3rd PhD Symposium on Contemporary Greece One of the core commitments of the HO is to encourage and facilitate research in the social sciences, focusing on Contemporary Greece.
Equally important to us is the fostering of new ideas by emerging scholars, who are carrying out research in this area. One of our most popular and by now established, scholarly events is the biennial PhD Symposium held under the auspices of the HO at the LSE. On the 14th & 15th June 2007, we held our 3d PhD Symposium concentrating on the broad themes of ‘Structures, Context and Challenges’.
Due to popular demand and for academic reasons, this year’s symposium was extended to a second day. This turned out to be a very useful extension as this year we had more applicants to participate, and present, at the Symposium than in the previous two conferences held in 2003 and 2005 respectively.
In the final programme we had to schedule 28 panels over the two days, to accommodate over 110 presentations by PhD students, who were speaking on topics relevant to their current doctoral research or recently completed PhDs. The participating students came from the UK, Greece, the rest of Europe, North America, and Australia. We were equally lucky to able to draw on the high quality pool of Greek academics employed in UK universities to chair the panels and act as discussants on the papers of the student presenters.
Indeed, this is one of the main ambitions of the PhD Symposium; to allow doctoral students to discuss their research questions and thesis design with established academics from different institutions who may have some expertise in their area of interest. In this way we hope to provide a forum for PhD students working in an area which may not be in them mainstream of the research community of their home institution to be exposed to debate and dialogue with established figures from other institutions and to use them as a sounding board for issues pertaining to their research. This is a significant complement to the other main ambition of the PhD symposium which is to bring together PhD students, who are conducting research on contemporary, and allow them to discuss their work, to exchange ideas, to create networks and to appreciate that they are not conducting their postdoctoral research in a vacuum – there are others out there with common interests, research questions and concerns.
The specialist panels covered a wider range of topics and were extremely well attended. Bracketing the panels session we had the pleasure of hosting three eminent plenary speakers. Professor Fotis Kafatos, President of the European Research Council (and Professor of Immunogenomics at Imperial College London) spoke on the general topic of Education, ‘Research and the Global Knowledge Society: Can Greece Compete?’ Our second plenary speaker was Professor George Tsebelis, Anatol Rapoport Collegiate Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan, whose lecture was entitled, ‘Veto Players and Greek Politics’. Last but not least we had the pleasure of hearing Professor Nikiforos Diamandouros, European Ombudsman and Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Athens. The title of his lecture was: ‘Confining Conditions, Critical Junctures and Evolutionary Breakthroughs: Reflections on Greece's Transition to Modernity’.
These three eminent scholars and public servants provided an excellent context and a variety of academic and intellectual influences and approaches which provoked much debate and discussion.
The HO would like to think that it has established a unique event in the Symposium. The interest of the PhD students who wished to present at this year’s two-day session was impressive, as was their participation and quality of presentations. The interest shown by the academics who came along and chaired sessions, and discussed and debated with the students, was equally impressive, especially at a time of the year when most of them have succumbed to exam marking fatigue. We would like to thank them all for the participation, as we would the plenary speakers.
Most of all we would like to thank the sponsors of the event, the Onassis Foundation, Niarchos Foundation, and the Bodossakis Foundation for their generous support. Their assistance allowed us not only to host the event and invite eminent speakers, but most importantly to cover – as much as possible – the travel costs and expenses of the heart of the Symposium, the PhD students.
Cick here to read the participants' comments.