The Symi Symposium

Thursday the family leaves for Greece. By Sunday we will be in Crete, where I will have the good fortune to be part of the eighth annual Symi Symposium run by the Andreas Papandreou Foundation, a philanthropy headed by PASOK President George Papandreou. The Symposium is being held at a nice location near Rethymnon.

Here's the official description of what promises to be both interesting and idyllic:

The principle theme of this year’s Symposium is New Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century. Participants will explore issues such as the democratic deficit in western countries; the role of technology in helping (or hindering) democracy; globalisation and its challenges to democratic institutions; views on democracy outside the West; the impact of terrorism on democracy; and how the relationship between religion and politics is being redefined.

The Symi Symposium, currently in its eighth year, is organised by the Andreas G. Papandreou Foundation. Its purpose is to bring together progressive politicians, academics, activists and intellectuals to exchange views on issues of importance to the global social democratic agenda.

The Symi Symposium is void of the constraints and formalities of typical conferences. Convened every year at a different seaside resort, it nurtures spirited debate in a discreet setting. Participants come from all over the world, and their varied backgrounds animate formal and informal discussions. In years past, the Symi Symposium has fostered ideas that have taken shape in the form of significant progressive political and public service initiatives.

I find that I learn the most at events where there is a substantial chance for informal interaction (the fewer speakers at meals, the better!). The program here — several days with a half day of scheduled events, then a half day of informal time — shows that the organizers understand this.

And, yes, I do know how lucky I am!

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