Establishment & aim of the UNESCO Chair
The UNESCO Chair of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki on Education for Human Rights, Democracy and Peace was founded in 1997, according to an Agreement signed between UNESCO and the Aristotle University. It is the first UNESCO Chair that was established in a University Institution in Greece.
The UNESCO Chair is related to the UNESCO Plan for the “Introduction of Education for Peace and Human Rights in Higher Education” (UNESCO, ED-91/Conf. 612/3 UNESCO 3rd Medium Plan 1991-95, para. 397, 25 C/4).
The purpose of the UNESCO Chair is, according to Article 2 of the Agreement, “to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation activities in the field of human rights, peace and democracy” at local, sub-regional and regional level. The activities of the UNESCO Chair promote the values of a culture of human rights, peace and non-violence within the university, as well as within primary and secondary schools, with the aim to sensitize teachers, students and citizens to these issues.
Director of the UNESCO Chair:
- Despoina Klavanidou, Professor, Faculty of Law, AUTh
Members of the Board of the UNESCO Chair:
- Anastasia Kesidou, Assist. Professor, School of Philosophy and Education, AUTh
- Aphrodite Baka, Assist. Professor, School of Psychology, AUTh
Educational activities of the UNESCO Chair
The UNESCO Chair connects the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki with international intergovernmental Organisations (UNESCO, UNICEF and others), with the global Net of the 756 UNESCO Chairs in 114 states and the 46 UNITWIN Networks of UNESCO, as well as with the Global Campus of Human Rights (GC) and also with many international and Greek Non-Governmental Organisations.
● The UNESCO Chair at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki organizes:
- An Interfaculty interdisciplinary course (under-graduate level) on education for human rights, democracy and peace titled “Contemporary world problems and the scientist’s responsibility: an interdisciplinary approach”. The above course takes place every academic year in spring semester and is offered to students of all Schools of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. It is taught by lecturers from AUTh and various Schools of the University and also by representatives of International Organisations and NGOs.
The Programme covers issues, such as international protection of human rights, democracy, culture of peace and non-violence, social exclusion, racism and xenophobia, intercultural dialogue, social inclusion of refugees, children’s rights, world environmental problems, natural resources and their distribution, sustainable development, biotechnology and bioethics, positive and negative uses of nuclear power, international organizations and their contribution to the solution of international problems and other.
- Since 1998, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki/UNESCO Chair participates in the postgraduate Programme “European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation” (EMA). The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is one of the 15 founding Universities of this MA Programme and serves as the coordinating University for Greece. The European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation, organized by the Global Campus of Human Rights/Global Campus Europe, is an intensive high level one-year academic programme in the field of human rights and democratisation. Students have the opportunity to be taught by leading academics representing the 41 EMA participating universities from all member states of the European Union, experts and representatives of international organisations (including the European Union, the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe-OSCE) and NGOs while studying in a multicultural environment.
In this context the UNESCO Chair of Aristotle Univeristy of Thessaloniki organizes a programme of courses for foreign students who conduct research for their MA thesis at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, supervised by its faculty members. Since 1998, Professors from various Schools of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki have taught in the Programme, as well as representatives of international organizations (UNESCO, UNICEF) and others.
The educational activities of the UNESCO Chair are also expanded to schools of primary and secondary education all over Greece. The aims and the activities of the UNESCO Chair are presented to students and teachers either through visits of the academic members of the UNESCO Chair to schools, which have expressed a relevant interest, or through visits of the schools themselves to AUTh and the Chair.
Other activities of the UNESCO Chair
The UNESCO Chair of AUTh cooperates with UNESCO in Paris, the Greek National Commission of UNESCO, the Ombudsman for Human Rights. It is also in contact/cooperation with many NGOs, such as Amnesty International, the Greek Council for Refugees, Doctors without Borders, Doctors of the World and others.
For the promotion of Human Rights, Democracy and Peace the UNESCO Chair organizes various activities, for example national and international conferences, symposia and roundtables on topics such as the role of the universities and the teachers for a culture of human rights, democracy and peace, children’s rights, immigration and volunteerism, etc. Further activities of the UNESCO Chair are children’s art exhibitions, concerts, book editions, etc. The UNESCO Chair has a library with numerous books on topics relevant to its scope.
In 2002, the UNESCO Chair of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki received an award by UNESCO. The following extract appeared in the wording of the decision: “The UNESCO Chair of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki illustrates the great potential of higher education to contribute to attaining the constitutional mission of UNESCO to construct peace in the minds of men and women.”
Since wars begin in the minds of men,
it is in the minds of men that the defenses of Peace
must be constructed
(Constitution of UNESCO, 1945)