The second annual Balkan Studies Seminars, held in Olympia, Greece and organized by the Kokkalis Foundation in collaboration with the University of Patras, the University of Macedonia and the Interscientific and Intercultural Center of Olympia, were a resounding success. Held from July 5th to the 17th, the seminars brought together an incredibly diverse and talented group of journalists, students, professors, and professionals from 21 countries.
The 2004 sessions were divided into two, separate thematic programs. Stathis Kalyvas, Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science and Director of the Program on Order, Conflict, and Violence at Yale University, directed the first program, entitled European Transitions from Portugal to the Baltics, which featured a structured curriculum of lectures and discussions exploring various topics related to the process of democratic transition. Participating lecturers included Dr. Marek Kaminski from the University of California at Irvine, who presented a rigorous analytical framework for understanding how the structure of electoral systems can influence political outcomes.
Taking a more comparative approach, Thomas Jeffrey Miley from Yale University led participants in an investigation of the transition and consolidation of democracy in Portugal and Spain, placing particular emphasis on how the issue of how Catalan and Basque nationalism conditioned the Spanish case. In the second half of the seminars, Monika Anna Nalepa from Columbia University introduced students to the complexities of transitional justice by using case studies from several Central European countries to illustrate the varied approaches taken by new governments when dealing with those individuals that collaborated with the former authoritarian regime. Dr. Stathis Kalyvas concluded the program by providing an overview of the course and by extrapolating on the theories posited during the seminars to address the contemporary question of whether or not democracy is possible in Iraq.
The second program, International Journalism, Communications, and the Media, challenged participants to explore the relationship between mass media and democracy. Led by Ellen Mickiewicz, the Director of the DeWitt Wallace Center for Communications and Journalism at Duke University, the journalism seminars investigated how the media cover politics and examined media institutions and the economics of news production and consumption.
Lecturers included Paolo Mancini, who offered an in depth look at media concentration and political power with the case of Berlusconi, and Colin Shaw, who familiarized participants with the inner-workings of public service broadcasting in the United Kingdom. The seminar participants greatly contributed to the depth of the program by offering examples of how the strategic interplay of politicians, journalists, editors, and other actors influences the content of news in their home countries.
(i) When not in the classroom participants took every possible opportunity to explore the unique beauty and cultural heritage of the Peloponnese through organized excursions to local museums, archeological sights, and, of course, the stunning beaches for which the region is famous. Location: Olympia, Greece