Stanford and Deree Students Workshop the Crisis

Deree students, now alumni, George Moros (D ‘12), Ellie Martin (D ‘14), and Mark Kethisouaran (D ‘13) on the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, California, in 2011. They were among the first Deree honors students to participate in Stanford’s International Honors Summer Program.

A group of visiting Stanford University students joined a group of Deree colleagues to discuss the prolonged Greek crisis, its root causes and its effects, with faculty members from both institutions. The event took place on January 27 at the Deree Library. The Stanford students, from a variety of majors, are enrolled for a semester abroad in Stanford’s Bing Overseas Studies Program in Berlin. Part of their study abroad experience includes several trips to see EU member states other than Germany, but also to experience first-hand the effect of the crisis. The program coordinator who organized this visit to the ACG campus was Deree alumna Nefeli Varthaliti.

The arrival of this group of students from one of the world’s most famous universities was not a random event. Each year, students of Deree’s International Honors Program visit the Stanford campus in Palo Alto, California, to participate in Stanford’s International Honors Summer Program, which brings together some of the most accomplished university students from around the world. This year, nine of our students will embark on this academic adventure. ACG provides participating students with financial support that covers living expenses, while Stanford covers part of the tuition for all participants from Deree.

The January event began with a short speech by President David G. Horner, who discussed several underlying factors that have led to, and continue to affect, the current financial situation in Greece. Dr. Horner also contrasted Greek and US higher education establishments, and concluded by stressing the importance of rebuilding Greece’s “human capital engine,” adding that education is one of the many areas requiring re-engineering for sustainable prosperity.

The President was followed by a succession of short presentations from professionals including former Greek Minister of Finance, Philippos Sachinidis, who outlined lessons learned from the Greek crisis concluding that, “Now that we have almost balanced the primary deficit, it is time to reconsider the speed of fiscal consolidation in order to give the economy space to breathe and to fight unemployment”.

The panel of academics began their presentations after a short break for coffee and mingling, with Dr. Antonis Klidas, head of the International Business program at Deree, moderating the discussion and workshop. Following the presentations, each academic shared a question with the audience, who broke up into mixed Stanford and Deree student groups to workshop the issues and later present their solutions.

Dr. Anna Visvizi, professor of International Business at Deree, briefly analyzed the transatlantic dimensions of the crisis and Germany’s leadership role, recalling the infamous Kissinger question of the 70’s, “If I want to call Europe, who do I call?”

Dr. Ulrich Brueckner, Jean Monnet Professor of European Studies at Stanford University and director of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin, argued that though Europe “remains a construction site” there is more to it than often meets the eye. “There is a glue that holds the whole thing together,” he said referring to the fundamental ideas upon which EU was based, arguing that the national interest of each member state is also a European interest.

Dr. Ritsa Ventouratos-Fotinatos, a Deree professor of Industrial and Social Psychology, and Committee Member of the British Psychological Society, presented recent findings on the economic crisis, focusing on who truly bears the economic burden, rather than who or what is to blame. Professor Ventouratos shared alarming facts, including a climb in suicide and crime rates; an increase in workplace bullying, micromanaging, and increasingly abrasive styles of management; the 60% youth unemployment and how it translates into loss of identity; overloaded work schedules, increased sick days due to depression, anxiety, and burnout.
This was the first time the Berlin Center visited Greece and, after a productive and educational trip, we hope that – beyond furthering the productive collaboration of the academic establishments – this can also lead to intercultural understanding.