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Athens, 27 April 2018

ACA-IKY Seminar: Internationalisation and academic freedom


International cooperation in education or any other field, in all its beauty, was never without its perils. Crises of different kinds and magnitudes are part and parcel of moving globally and out of one’s own yard. Despite decades of dynamic international activity of Europe’s higher education institutions (HEIs), there seems to be a recently renewed need for discussion and exchange of information about crisis management in higher education. HEIs are looking for the right approaches in dealing with crisis situations, in an attempt to move beyond immediate, ad hoc responses towards a more strategic approach at the institutional level. 

In many European countries, but also across the globe, there are strong populist, anti-intellectual and ultra-conservative tendencies. In not a few cases, ultra-conservative and populist parties are part of or even lead government coalitions and have an impact on government policies. Often, this has a - usually restrictive - impact on academic freedom. In some cases, the jobs and even the lives of scholars and professors are at risk. But there appear to be also populist governments that do not interfere too much in higher education, either because the ministry of education has successfully resisted efforts of interference from the governments’ top leadership, or because there are strong legal or even constitutional barriers guaranteeing academic freedom.

We, ACA and its Greek member IKY, are concerned about the present trends and have therefore decided to jointly organise a seminar on the issue. Internationalisation and academic freedom, as the event is entitled, will explore the relationship between populism, anti-intellectualism, authoritarian government and anti-elitist tendencies on the one hand, and higher education in general and academic freedom and internationalisation in particular, on the other.  Is there evidence that populist governments (always) pursue anti-international policies, reduce funding and programmes for international mobility and projects, and discourage universities and colleges to engage in internationalisation? Are critical scholars and students at risk of losing their jobs, being persecuted or imprisoned or, rather, where is this the case? These are two key questions on the seminar agenda. Another one is how higher education institutions and internationalisation agencies (like IKY and their counterparts in other countries with functioning democracies) should respond to countries and universities which restrict academic freedom. Should they suspend cooperation with these countries and their higher education sector or should they reinforce it, as a sign of solidarity with the threatened academics and in the hope that continued cooperation will ‘infect’ the problematic countries with a ‘democracy virus’?

In their choice of speakers, moderators, and panellists, ACA and IKY have remained loyal to their long-term policy: only the best! All our speakers, from Greece, the rest of Europe and the US, are highly reputed experts of international renown. On top of this, they are very good orators.


Thursday, 26 April, 19:30


19:30 Welcome dinner at Aegli Zappiou
Friday, 27 April
08:30 Registrations open
09:00 Short welcome addresses
Kyriakos Athanasiou, President of the Administrative Board of IKY and Emeritus Professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and Ulrich Grothus, ACA President and Deputy Secretary General, DAAD
09:15 Introductory speech
Academic freedom: A continuously contemporary topic
Kostas Gavroglu, Hellenic Minister of Education, Research and Religious Affairs
09:30 Opening keynote
Populism, anti-intellectualism and threats to the academic freedom and the life and well-being of academics
Sijbolt Noorda, President Magna Charta Observatory, former President of ACA, Amsterdam
10:15 Coffee break
  Internationalism, cosmopolitism, intellectualism and ‘elites’ at risk?
10:45 Why the world is no longer flat
Allan Goodman, CEO of the Institute of International Education (IIE), NYC
11:25 Do populism, anti-intellectualism and authoritarian tendencies pose a threat to internationalisation in higher education? A panel discussion
Chair: Ulrich Grothus, see above
Marijk van der Wende, Distinguished Professor for Higher Education, Utrecht University
Allan Goodman, see above
Dana Petrova, Director General, Centre for International Cooperation in Education (DZS), Prague
12:30 Cosmopolitanism, critical theory and academic freedom
Costas Douzinas, Professor of Law and Philosophy, Birkbeck, University of London and Founding Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities
13.10 Lunch
14:30 Globalisation contested – internationalisation challenged
Marijk van der Wende, see above
15:10 Bio-ethics, a compass for the future. Its relationship to academic freedom and its role in the internationalisation of higher education
Ioannis Economidis, former Scientific Officer, EU Commission, Brussels
15:50 How shall national agencies as well as universities deal with ‘difficult countries’?
A panel discussion
Chair: Stefan Zotti, ACA Vice-president and Director General, Österreichischer Austauschdienst (OeAD), Vienna
Alenka Flander, Director General, CMEPIUS, Ljubljana
Olivier Tschopp, Director, Movetia, Solothurn, Switzerland
Christian Müller, Director Strategy, DAAD, Bonn
Katrin Kiisler, Head of Higher Education Section, Archimedes Foundation, Tallinn
16:50 Conclusions
Vincenzo Ribi, Deputy Head of International Relations, Swissuniversities, Bern
17:10 End of the seminar


Kyriaκos Athanasiou

Kyriaκos Athanasiou is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Athens and President of IKY, since April, 2016.He received his B.Sci. in Biology and his Ph.D. from the University of Patras, Greece and his M.Sci. from the Dept.of Biology, York University- Toronto (Canada). He has worked as Research Fellow in the area of Environmental Genetics at the National Hellenic Research Foundation of Athens and as Assistant Professor at the Medical School of Ioannina, Greece. From 1991 until 2010, has been serving as Associate and Full Professor at the School of Education, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and later on, the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens, Greece, teaching Biological and Health Education. He has served for several years as Visiting Professor, at the EAP (Greek Open University), teaching History, Philosophy and Didactics of Science. He has received various scholarships and Fellowships and has been the author of several books, monographs and papers.

Ulrich Grothus

Ulrich Grothus is president of ACA and Deputy Secretary-General and head of the Berlin office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He obtained a master’s degree in Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1976. He then worked as a journalist before joining the International Division of the former West German Rectors Conference in 1982. He has been working for DAAD since 1988, first as spokesman and head of the president’s office. From 1991, he was consecutively director of all three DAAD program directorates. In between, he served as director of the Paris office from 1998 to 2000 and of the New York office from 2004 to 2008. He has started serving as president of ACA at the beginning of 2018. Grothus speaks five foreign languages and has given three others a try.

Kostas Gavroglu

Kostas Gavroglu was born in Istanbul. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Theoretical Physics from Lancaster University, completed the Part III Mathematical Tripos in Cambridge University at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and received his PhD from the Department of Physics, at Imperial College, University of London. His PhD was on theoretical aspects of elementary particle physics (Non-leptonic decays of hyperons). He had a post-doctoral appointment at the State University of New York at Long Island, was appointed as a privat dozent at the Departments of Physics, first at the University of Patras and, then, at the Physics Department of the National Technical University of Athens. Since 1994 he is professor of history of science at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Athens. He has been a visiting professor at Imperial College, Harvard University, Boston University, Cambridge University, and Istanbul Technical University. He was research fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, Pennsylvania and the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at MIT. He has been scientific coordinator in many research projects funded by the European Union, the European Science Foundation, the Greek State and private foundations. He served as Director of the Laboratory of the Electronic Processing of Historical Archives ( ) and was President of the Executive Board of the Historical Archive of the University of Athens ( He is a member of the Executive Board of the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation ( He is currently President of the Executive Committee of the Research Center for the Humanities (, based in Athens, Greece. His research fields are the History of Physical chemistry, the History of Quantum chemistry, the History of Artificial cold as well as issues related with the appropriation of the scientific ideas and practices by the European periphery from the 18th century. He is a co-editor of the series in history and philosophy science by Springer Publishers, by Brill Publishers and editor of the series in history of science by Crete University Publishers and member of the editorial boards of a number of scientific journals in the History of Science. In September 2015 he was elected MP with SYRIZA. He was also president of the Standing Committee on Education of the Greek Parliament.

Sijbolt Noorda

Sijbolt Noorda is president of Magna Charta Observatory, Bologna. He is a former president of the Dutch Association of Research Universities, president emeritus of Universiteit van Amsterdam and a former Board member of the European University Association.Dr Noorda writes and lectures on teaching and learning in Higher Education, about ideals and practices of internationalization, on open science, core values and on governance issues in HEIs. He regularly reviews and gives advice to individual universities and national systems in the European HigherEducation Area.

Allan E. Goodman

Dr. Allan E. Goodman is the sixth President of IIE, the leading not-for-profit organization in the field of international educational exchange and development training. IIE conducts research on international academic mobility and administers the Fulbright program sponsored by the United States Department of State, as well as over 200 other corporate, government and privately-sponsored programs. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a founding member of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Co-President of the Partner University Fund (PUF) Grant Review Committee, and a member of the Jefferson Scholarship selection panel. He also serves on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation International Quality Group Advisory Council and the Board of Trustees of the Education Above All Foundation. Dr. Goodman has a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard, an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and a B.S. from Northwestern University. He was awarded the inaugural Gilbert Medal for Internationalization by Universitas 21.

Dana Petrova

Dana Petrova is Director at the Centre for International Cooperation in Education in the Czech Republic and member of the ACA Administrative Council. Dana graduated from the University of Economics in Prague, majoring in International Politics and Diplomacy. From 2000 to 2005 she worked at the Centre for Higher Education Studies in Prague, focusing mainly on the administration of EU educational projects. In 2007 she became head of the Erasmus Unit at the Centre for International Services in Prague. She was responsible for the overall implementation of the LLP/Erasmus programme in the Czech Republic. From 2011 to 2013 she held the position of Director of the Office for International Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. From 2013 to 2016 she worked in Germany at CHE Consult GmbH, a Berlin based consulting company in the field of higher education. As a senior project manager was involved in a range of studies and research projects (e.g. Erasmus Impact Study for the European Commission), as well as development of tools measuring impact of international student mobility. Dana has extensive experience with international strategy development and implementation, IRO leadership and quality assessment of international projects. Dana is currently member of the EAIE Awards and Talent Committee.

Marijk van der Wende

Marijk van der Wende is Distinguished Professor of Higher Education at Utrecht University’s Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. Her research focuses on the impact of globalization and internationalization on higher education and research. She has published widely on the impact of these processes on higher education systems, institutions, curricula, and teaching and learning arrangements. She is also an affiliate faculty and research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California Berkeley and a member of the Academia Europaea (the Academy of Europe, section behavioral sciences). She is currently a member of the Supervisory Board of the Open University of the Netherlands, the Board of the Rathenau Institute for Science and Technology in Society, the International Advisory Board of the Centre for the Study of World Class Universities, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the Graduate Campus Advisory Board of the University of Zurich, and the Board of the Amsterdam University College Scholarship Fund (ASF Foundation).She has been a chair and member of numerous national and international advisory committees and editorial boards.Marijk holds BA degrees in teaching and pedagogy, and MA and PhD degrees in educational sciences, from the University of Amsterdam and the University of Utrecht respectively.

More information here.

Ioannis Economidis

Dr Economidis is a graduate of the Agricultural University of Athens and holds a PhD on Biochemical Genetics from the University of Texas at Austin. His research was concentrated on protein/nucleic acid interactions related to gene expression. He worked as research associate in United States, in Belgium and in Greece. In 1987, he joined the Research General Directorate of the European Commission where he developed research sectors in the interface of Biotechnology and the Environment such as the safety of GMOs, topics of environmental biotechnology, and issues on molecular diversity. In 2005, he joined the team which developed the concept of the Knowledge Based Bioeconomy and developed sectors such as Environmental Biotechnology, Molecular Diversity, Metagenomics, GMO safety and Emerging Technologies serving Biotechnology such as the Synthetic Biology. He represented his service in the European Federation of Biotechnology, the Working Party on Biotechnology of the OECD and the EU-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research. He retired from the European Commission on June 2010. Dr Economidis was till 2012 Member of the Advisory Boards of the Centre for Environmental Risk Assessment of the International Life Sciences Institute Research Foundation and of the International Symposia of Biosafety Research. He served also as visiting professor at the University of Athens, Crete and the International Hellenic University on topics of Bioeconomy, Biosafety and Bioethics. Till 2015 he was Advisor for the Working Group on Synthetic Biology of the EU-US Task Force on Biotechnology Research and for the ERAnet project ERASynBio on the development and coordination of the Synthetic Biology in the European Research Area.

Costas Douzinas

Costas Douzinas is Syriza MP for the Piraeus A constituency and Chair of the Standing Committee of Defence and Foreign Affairs. Costas is a Professor of Law and Philosophy, Founding Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities, Birkbeck London University and member of the Greek Commission on Human Rights. Costas was the founder of the Birkbeck School of Law, and the School of Law of the University of Cyprus. He is the editor of the journal Law and Critique and managing editor of Birkbeck Law Press. His books, translated in twelve languages, include Postmodern Jurisprudence; The End of Human Rights; Nomos and Aesthetics; Human Rights and Empire; Critical Jurisprudence and Resistance and Philosophy in the Crisis and the volumes of essays Law and the Image; Adieu Derrida, The Idea of Communism, The Cambridge Companion to Human Rights Law and The Meaning of Rights. He is frequent contributor to the Guardian and OpenDemocracy and writes a fortnightly column entitled Philosophical and Political Current in the Athens Newspaper of Journalists. Costas has received many prizes and rewards for his work. His latest book and the first he wrote while being an MP, is entitled Syriza in Power (Polity, 2017).

Stefan Zotti

Stefan Zotti (* 1976, Vienna) holds a doctoral degree in Catholic Theology from the University of Vienna and a master degree in European Studies from the Danube University Krems.He started his professional career as assistant to an Austrian Member of the European Parliament. 2007 he became political adviser to the Minister for Science and Research on national and European research and innovation policy and acting Head of cabinet in 2009. In 2010 Dr Zotti joined the cabinet of Mr Johannes Hahn, European Commissioner for Regional Policy. One of the main tasks he dealt with was establishing stronger ties between regional development and national or regional research and innovation strategies the context of the European Cohesion policy’s reform. Since January 2016 he acts as Director General of the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD GmbH). He is Vice-president of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) and since 2017 he also serves as CEO “Innovationsstiftung Bildung”. Part-time lecturer for European policies at FH Burgenland.

Alenka Flander

Dr Alenka Flander is the Director of the Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS), leading Slovene institution in the field of internationalisation of education and training. In that capacity she is responsible for very successful implementation of EU programmes (Erasmus+) in Slovenia with a strong focus on achieving sustainable impact of the projects and programme and ensuring effective dissemination and integration of programme results into institutional and national systems and practices. Alenka was trained as an electrical engineer and completed her PhD in the Political Science. Her research work is interdisciplinary in nature and encompasses monitoring and measuring the impact of European Programmes in the area of education and training, and research on internationalisation and higher education. She contributed to national or international expert groups (i.e EUROSTUDENT, EAIE Task Force) and is author of several publications and articles on internationalisation in higher education and academic profession. In internationalisation she was behind the preparation of Slovene Strategy for internationalisation of higher education adopted in 2016.

Olivier Tschopp

Olivier Tschopp acts as director of the new swiss national agency Movetia (exchange and mobility) since January 2017. He obtained a master’s degree of arts at the Universities of Lausanne and Neuchâtel in 1992. Before joining Movetia, Olivier was teacher, school director, responsible for the upper secondary and tertiary educational level (professional and vocational education and training – head of the unit training) and general secretary within the department for education of the canton of Jura (Switzerland). During his term he contributed directly to develop an exchange and mobility office. His professional choices are closely linked to “change management”, thus starting or setting up new structures or project organizations.

Christian Müller

Christian Müller works at the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD) since January 2002, heading the newly created department of strategy at DAAD head office, since 2015. He served at DAAD Brazil from 2009 to 2014, as director of the DAAD branch office in Rio de Janeiro. Simultaneously, he was President of the Board of the German Center for Science and Innovation (DWIH), São Paulo. Prior to this appointment, he was head of the Division “Communication and Marketing” at the DAAD in Bonn, leading the secretariat of the consortium GATE-Germany. In former years, he worked as university lecturer for German Language and Literature in Portugal (Aveiro) and Brazil (Campinas, Rio de Janeiro) as well as in the training of experts in development cooperation. His academic background is in Social Sciences and German Studies at the Universities of Göttingen and Bonn.

Katrin Kiisler

Katrin Kiisler is in charge of higher education at Archimedes Foundation. She joined the Archimedes team in 1998 with the mandate to facilitate launching and implementation of Erasmus programme in Estonia. Since then she has been active in the development Estonian higher education internationalisation policies, implementation of various mobility instruments, and been a member of numerous national and international working groups, committees, strategy task forces and evaluation panels. Her research interests are related to the transnational mobility of researchers and reversing the brain drain in higher education. Before joining Archimedes, Katrin was employed as a lecturer of Latin and Roman literature at the University of Tartu.

Vincenzo Ribi

Vincenzo Ribi has been Deputy Head of International Relations with Swissuniversities since March 2015. He holds a M.A. in history and social anthropology from the University of Berne. At Swissuniversities, he is in charge of coordinating the Swissuniversities Development and Cooperation Network (SUDAC) and responsible for refugee’s access to higher education. His activities range from political communication to promotion and marketing projects to further international student and researcher mobility. Before joining Swissuniversities’ international relations, he worked as a programme officer on Sciex-NMSch, a development and cooperation programme with the new EU Member States funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. His track record in higher education politics goes back to his position as a student representative on the Swiss National Student Union (VSS-UNES-USU) executive committee.


Electra Palace Hotel Athens

Ballroom meeting room
GR-10557 – ATHENS