ATHENS – At the recent ceremony presenting the new Master’s program in American Studies: Politics, Strategy and Economics of the University of Piraeus (UP), U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, emphasized that, “I think it’s very fitting that the launch of this American Studies program is coming as part of the Greek Bicentennial because it underscores the importance of our people-to-people ties, which in many ways are the heart of our alliance.”
Reflecting the Ambassador’s point in the beautiful Laskaridis Foundation Library by Zea Harbor in Piraeus is the fact the classes will be taught in English, not only allowing for presentations by U.S. officials and scholars, but also creating unique educational opportunities for Greek-Americans, who will also be able to deepen their connection with Greece.
The Director is Aristotle Tziampiris, UP Professor of International Relations and past Chair, Department of International and European Studies and Visiting fellow at New York University. He thanked the contributors of the vital scholarship funds and others who provided financial and moral support or helped navigate the bureaucratic process and set up the program in record time, including the Greek military and especially New York University Provost Catherine Fleming, who put him in contact with the Center for Global Affairs (CGA).
According to its website, “the contents and structure of the Master Program address the academic need to better understand the politics, history, international relations and economy of the United States of America.” The Program is offered in cooperation with NYU, which will also provide professors, and the curriculum was developed in consultation with professors from CGA.
The guests were welcomed by Konstantinos Mazarakis-Ainian, the Director of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, and Irene Mamakou, Sr. Teaching Fellow at UP, was the Emcee. After reading congratulations from Greek Education Minister Niki Kerameus, who praised the co-operation between the two universities as a model for Greece and looks forward to more such agreements with major American universities. Mamakou introduced Dean Michalis Sfakianakis of UP, who spoke of the importance of such innovative academic programs for Greece and acknowledged the presence of UP Vice Rector Grigorios Hondrokoukis.
Pyatt said the launch of the new program “is a truly historic step in our bilateral relationship,” and he too thanked and congratulated Tziampiris and all who made it a reality. “The U.S. Embassy is very proud to be funding four scholarships for the first year of the Master’s program as part of our year-long campaign to celebrate the Greek bicentennial.” The funds were donated to the Council for International Relations (CFIR) – Greece, which conveyed them to UP. “The Embassy’s scholarships will offer significant opportunities to talented Greek young people,” Pyatt added.
The Ambassador also took the opportunity to support “the dramatic reforms that Minister of Education Kerameus and her team are implementing, with a major focus on developing relations between Greek universities and counterparts in the United States. We want to create more opportunities for more American students to study abroad here in Greece, and for more Greeks to conduct research in the United States, create opportunities for more exchanges between think tanks and academics in our two countries, and for more artists and scholars to share their ideas and their work.”
Athanasios Platias, Chairman of the Department of International and European Studies at UP, succinctly explained the value of the Program: “The United States controls 25% of world GDP… and with its allies, 75%… If you want to study international relations you must know the United States.”
Panos Yannakogeorgos, professor at NYU’s Center for Global Affairs, told the guests “it’s a real thrill to have entered into a partnership with our friends and colleagues at the University of Piraeus… and we are not just educating students but also giving them opportunities to practice skills that they can use in their careers and also to understand how the policymaking world works.”
Tziampiris emphasized that “we will deepen cooperation with NYU,” through initiatives like a summer camp and an annual conference at NYU during UN week, noting that “students will be able to spend 1-2 months at NYU each summer at extremely reduced cost.”
He is strongly committed to fundraising for the program and welcomes Greek-American community support.
“Any money we raise will go into scholarships to help grown the program… the Director by law is not paid,” he said with a smile.