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Unjustified Merging of Academic Departments at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

The aim of Project “Athena”, which has just been announced by the Greek Ministry of Education, is to emphasize “the seminal role of tertiary education in the national strategy of development”, offering “the best conditions for teaching and research”, “opportunities for employment and mobility, social integration and recognition” as well as “pockets of academic excellence, human resources and possibilities for development”. In this context, Project “Athena” plans a “Department of Foreign Languages & Philology” with five directions: 1. English Language, 2. French Language, 3. German Language, 4. Spanish Language, and, 5. Italian Language.

The Department of English Language & Literature of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens believes that this planned merging of the five independent Departments of English Language & Literature, French Language & Literature, German Language & Literature, Italian Language & Literature, and Spanish Language & Literature

·  does not fulfill the criteria of mergers as set down by Project “Athena”

·  does not implement the stated aims of the project

·  annuls the academic excellence of everything these departments have accomplished to date

More specifically, the merging of these departments is not justified by the geographic criteria set by Project “Athena”, as all of the above are housed in the same building, the School of Philosophy of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Nor does it reduce costs, but will lead instead to the decline of the involved departments, transforming their academic fields and areas of research into a language-learning process. Yet, studies in languages and literatures are not just about acquiring skills in foreign languages; in fact students are admitted into these five departments after passing state exams in the respective languages, while during their studies they explore the connection of language, literature, and culture with society. Because of the high standard of the education they receive, our graduates are accepted in internationally renowned postgraduate study programs, often excelling in their careers in Greece and abroad. Equating their degree with foreign language learning will neither lead to “academic excellence” nor offer “opportunities for employment and mobility, social integration and recognition”. On the contrary, it will reduce the quality of education offered to our students as well as degrade their professional training. At the same time, the research interests of the faculty will be adversely affected and the very idea of academic specialization will be lost.

  For all the above reasons, we demand that this merger plan be withdrawn and we declare that we will fight for the preservation of the autonomy and independence of the Departments of English Language & Literature, French Language & Literature, German Language & Literature, Italian Language & Literature, and Spanish Language & Literature.