That’s the spirit of Liberalism, that’s the spirit we need!
The authentic Liberal Academy was present also in 2021. Following the hygienic measures against COVID-19, the Young Liberals Greece and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, joined forces again meeting with talented members of the new generation from 20 to 25 July, in Halkidiki.
The Liberal Academy, the authentic, is the locomotive project of liberal education in Greece, running consecutively since 2012. The Academy’s aim is to set the theoretical grounds of liberalism, distinguish it from “neoliberalism” and other side approaches, and discuss critically contemporary issues related to freedom, democracy and the role of young people in Greece and the rest of Europe. Furthermore, through targeted workshops, it enhances communication skills promoting progressive youth leadership.
This summer we were honoured by the support of the major liberal agencies, namely LYMEC, IFLRY, and ALDE IM, as well as liberal think tanks from all over Europe.
The Academy started with a kick-off session, with the President of Young Liberals, Eleni Siapikoudi and the International Officer, Thodoris Sofianos. They presented the values, goals and activities of the organization in Greece and abroad. Dr. Athanasios Grammenos provided an interactive lecture about the theory of freedom and liberalism, from ancient Greece until today.
Active youth participation, engagement and volunteerism was debated in a workshop by Eleni Siapikoudi and Spyros Diagkakis (Young Liberals East Macedonia-Thrace).
Prof. Katerina Lagos, from Sacramento State University, led the participants to a trip through Greece’s modern history. She discussed the context of freedom and democracy in juxtaposition to illiberal and authoritarian periods; she also focused in the notion of leadership, presenting successful case studies with liberal style. George Meneshian followed with an analysis of the politics in East Europe and the Caucasus, and the implications for the EU. Aret Demirci (FNF Regional Office), presented the situation in Turkey and the recent violations of human and civil rights. Nikolaos Zerzelidis and Vasilis Mylonas talked about populism and the refugee crisis, providing proposals with liberal orientation. On a broader topic, Thodoris Sofianos offered the results of his research on climate change and the old-school attitudes that wreak havoc on the planet, connecting the environmental challenges of our era to the need for robust liberal leadership.
In cooperation with guests and supporters from other liberal organizations (LYMEC, IFLRY, UST Tineret, Jóvenes Cs) we organized a round table discussion, where the speakers presented their views on a liberal youth agenda in the post COVID-19 era. In the same context, the Academy included a “World Café” session, in which the participants formed groups and joined a “speed-debating” round in 4 topics: freedom of speech, women empowerment, youth unemployment and economic sustainability.
Professor Panagiotou (Aristotle University Thessaloniki) and director of Digital Communication Network, talked about the flow of information and democracy. With his interactive presentations he highlighted the importance of responsible research of news, especially those coming from social media. Communication, Media and Strategic Planning were topics of the workshops of Boryana Atanassova, Communication Officer at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The discussion focused on strategic planning, communication skills, rhetoric and the most effective ways to promote ideas and messages. Later, Giannis Kalaitzidis, editor in Chief at Vima Press, guided the participants to the world of Media elaborating methods to ‘get published’ telling a story in ways that publishers and readers want to listen.
The seminar ended with strong debates on dividing topics for a big part of our society: vaccination, campus police and women’s representation, were discussed with the moderation of Professor Vlasis Vlasidis (University of Macedonia) and Dr. Athanasios Grammenos.
Overall, this 5-day experience was a productive and fascinating journey for all the young liberals who took part in it. The inclusive environment, the high competence modules and the highly skilled speakers made one more Liberal Academy unique and exquisite. For liberals, Halkidiki was the place to be last July and we look forward to the 10th Liberal Academy in 2022.
That’s the spirit of Liberalism; that’s the spirit we need.