Founding the Eleftherios Venizelos Chair & the Hellenic Observatory
In the mid-1990s, a campaign was launched to establish a Chair on Contemporary Greece that was neither concerned with the ancient or classical past, nor the arts and humanities, but would rather champion the study of contemporary Greek society, politics and economics.
A number of Greek academics at LSE: Elias Mossialos, Nicos Mouzelis and Spyros Economides, alongside the Director of the European Institute, Howard Machin, played a key role in pushing forward the initiative. The campaign was supported by leading alumni in Greece - among them: Ioannis Boutos, Governor of the Bank of Greece; Nikos Garganas, then Deputy Governor of the Bank of Greece; Dr Spyros J. Latsis and George Papandreou, then Deputy Minister of Education and Religious Affairs.
On 10 October 1996, the Eleftherios Venizelos Chair in Contemporary Greek Studies was dedicated by George Papandreou. This was endowed by philanthropic donations from some thirteen donors in Greece, at the time one of the largest donations made to the School. The Chair was to be a fully tenured, academic post in LSE, established in perpetuity.
The establishment of the Chair represented a major initiative in the academic field. It was the first chair of its kind outside Greece. The Chair was to be a fully tenured, academic post in LSE, established in perpetuity. Alongside the Chair was to be a research unit, the Hellenic Observatory, to promote the study of contemporary Greece through the social sciences.
The first holder of the Chair was Professor Loukas Tsoukalis of the University of Athens, from 1998 till 2001. When Loukas returned to Athens, he was succeeded in 2002 by Kevin Featherstone who is the Director of the Observatory till today, with Dr Spyros Economides serving as its Deputy Director.
Over the years, the Hellenic Observatory has grown drastically and is the largest ‘Departmental Research Units’ (DRUs) in the School.
As it has grown, the Observatory has remained true to its original purpose: to promote high quality research; to inform public debate; to foster collaboration between the Greek academic community and its UK peers; and, to support a new generation of scholars. In recent years, the focus of the Observatory has expanded to incorporate Cyprus and to appreciate the regional context in which both Greece and Cyprus are located.
Our research, includes the individual research by staff members and fellows; research projects supported by the HO; and our working paper series, ‘GreeSE’ Papers. This represents a mix of researchers and of disciplines and, together, it has established the HO as the major international centre for social scientific research on contemporary Greece and Cyprus. Over the last 25 years, the HO has delivered numerous research projects and has produced substantial amounts of reports and papers, covering a wide variety of topics within three main fields: economics, politics and social policy, and external relations and foreign policy.
From our home here at LSE, to Greece and Cyprus and more recently, with the pandemic, from our own homes, the Hellenic Observatory offers an extensive public lecture series. During our 25 years of existence we have featured more than 400 events, seminars and conferences in London and overseas, where some of the most influential figures connected with Greece or Cyprus can be heard.
At present, all our events are online and can be accessed across the world. Join leading academics and policy makers and engage in our public debates and discussions!