Plato’s Academy Centre aims to make ancient philosophy accessible and easily digestible to the public.
The Plato’s Academy Centre project is featured in the latest issue (Fall 2022) of the Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR). SSIR is an award-winning print and digital magazine publication, and website, covering cross-sector solutions to global problems. It was launched by the Center for Social Innovation (CSI) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and currently published at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS). It’s aimed at social change leaders from around the globe, and online it reaches an estimated 2.5 million visitors per annum. So we’re very pleased with the publicity this brings to our nonprofit startup in Greece!
The article, titled Reviving the Ancients, was written by journalist Aisha Malik. She interviewed Donald Robertson, our president, and Justin Stead, from our board of advisors.
For centuries, Greece was the cornerstone of Western philosophy. To walk where philosophy originated, to walk in the footsteps of Plato and Socrates is to imagine how this tradition began.
Donald Robertson, president of Plato’s Academy Centre
“The center’s mission”, Malik writes, “is to make ancient philosophy—from the Socratic method to Plato’s dialogues that illustrate the method in practice—accessible and easily digestible to the public.”
The intention, says the center’s communications director, Kasey Robertson, is “to bring international business to Greece and build up an area that could use some development.” She says that the nonprofit will add jobs to the economy by employing local youth to assist with event programming.
The center receives funding from the Aurelius Foundation, an organization that shares similar goals about the preservation of philosophical integrity and the pursuit of knowledge. “We are partnering and supporting the Plato Academy project, as this initiative fits squarely into our mission,” says Justin Stead, who launched the foundation in 2019 to promote Stoicism. “We are looking to increase the awareness and application of Stoicism within younger generations,” he says, including CEOs and business leaders who could apply Stoic principles to “the development of their strategic plans, tactical executions, and cultural/teamwork initiatives.”
This is great publicity for our project. Donald previously wrote a feature on Stoicism and mentioned the Plato’s Academy Centre project in the 2021 edition of Governance Matters, published by the Chandler Institute. This new article goes into more detail about Plato’s Academy Centre and, we hope, will introduce our nonprofit’s work to a wider international audience.
Please check out the full article online, Reviving the Ancients, and help us spread the word by sharing the link on social media.
Plato’s Academy Centre (PAC) recently provided a helping hand to the YPO and Aurelius Foundation, who organized a historic four-day Stoicism event in Athens.
The YPO is an international business networking organization for young CEOs. The Aurelius Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to spreading Stoic wisdom, through the four cardinal virtues, including doing outreach in universities and prisons. The Aurelius Foundation organized this unique event in Athens in collaboration with the YPO, and PAC were pleassed to offer some advice on local venues, etc.
Reception: Gennadius Library Gardens
The opening reception was held on the evening of 22nd September in the beautiful east gardens of the Gennadius Library. Tassos Economou, the emeritus chair of YPO, set the tone perfectly for the event. Lina Mendoni, the Minister for Culture and Sports, was out of the country but kindly sent a letter expressing her support for the event. Adonis Georgiadis, the Minister for Development and Investment, and George James Tsunis, the US Ambassador to Greece gave rousing speeches about Stoicism. They were followed by Bettany Hughes OBE, author of The Hemlock Cup, who got everyone excited for all the philosophy and history to come over the next few days.
Lina Mendoni, the Minister for Culture and Sports, was unable to attend, unfortunately, as she was abroad, but she forwarded a statement of support for the event.
Organizing “Stoicism in Business” in Athens, the womb of classical Greek culture, hosted by the Aurelius Foundation and the YPO, combines and connects humanities with business in an exemplary and original way. In recent years, more and more successful business executives, organizational and administrative managers are expressing a strong interest in humanities and especially philosophy. […] I welcome you to Athens, the city whose history of thousands of years is everywhere visible and legible. I would like to warmly congratulate the initiators and organizers of this inspiring conference and wish you success in your endeavours.
Lina Mendoni, Greek Minister for Culture and Sports
This was followed by a joint networking event with the YPO Aegean / Macedonia chapter in the National Gallery. VIP guests on the first evening were Dr. Maria Georgopoulou, Director of the Gennadius Library, and Pantelis Panos, General Manager of the American School for Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA).
Main Conference: Cotsen Hall
The main conference was held the following day in Cotsen Hall, with support from the American School for Classical Studies at Athens (ASCSA).
Donald Robertson, of the Plato’s Academy Centre, and Justin Stead, of the Aurelius Foundation, hosted the event, which featured keynotes from Dr. John Sellars (“Modern Stoicism”), chair of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit, and Angie Hobbs (“Stoicism and the Good Life”), professor of the public understanding of philosophy at Exeter University.
Our other speakers included Karen Duffy, author of Wise Up; Artemios Miropoulos, author of The Nameless King; Pat Cash, a former Wimbledon tennis champion; and Tim LeBon, research director of Modern Stoicism, who organized workshops on Stoicism and emotional resilience. We also had a panel discussing Stoicism in Business, including Tassos Economou, Michalis Michael, Justin Stead, and Greg Galant.
Conference: Plato’s Academy Park
We are especially grateful to the mayor and municipality of Athens for permission to hold an open-air event, under a marquee tent, in the historic location of Plato’s Academy Park. Keynotes on 24th were by Bettany Hughes OBE (“The roots of Stoicism – Socrates, Confucius, Buddha”) and Donald Robertson (“Plato’s Academy Park: The Past and Future”), with presentations from Andy Small, about Stoicism in UK prisons; Anthony Magnabosco, on Street Epistemology; and Mark Tuitert, an Olympic gold medallist in speed skating. We also had a panel (“What can we learn from classical wisdom?”) featuring Angie Hobbs, Bettany Hughes, and John Sellars.
Kostas Bakoyannis, the Mayor of Athens, spoke to the audience, and stressed his support for the event, and his desire to see it return to this historic location in the future. The conference was followed by tours of the Ancient Agora and Acropolis.
Regarding the event at Akadimia Platonos, Minister Mendoni, wrote in her speech:
Over time, there have been different influences on philosophical currents. However, the space of the Academy echoes the principles of Plato’s “State”. The grove of the Academy was one of the three important groves of ancient Athens. The archaeological site of Plato’s Academy coincides with the ancient “Gardens of Academus”, a verdant idyllic place, in the western suburbs of ancient Athens, where in the 6th century BC. the Gymnasium of Akadimia had been founded.
In this area, where there were sanctuaries of the Muses, Athena, Zeus Morius – patron and guardian of the sacred olive trees of Athens – , Hephaestus, Hercules, etc., Plato founded in 387 BC. his philosophical school, named Akadimia, after Academus. It was a place dedicated to education and sports, the first university in history, which also gave the concept of having a campus to universities all over the world.
Lina Mendoni, Greek Minister for Culture and Sports
Cruise to Cape Sounion
The event concluded on the 25th with a boat trip to Cape Sounion and the ancient Temple of Poseidon. We had a mini conference on the boat with talks from Mick Mulroy, of the Lobo Institute, on Stoicism in the military, and Eugenia Manolidou, of Elliniki Agogi, on philosophy and the power of the ancient Greek language.
There was also a panel of young Stoics, discussing Stoicism and leadership, including Sukhraj Gill, Ross Paton, Dhruv Makwana, and Lori Huica.
The event seemed to be a huge success overall, based on the feedback we’ve had so far, and we learned many things that will benefit us when running future events in Athens. We already have plans for several new events in Athens, which will be open to everyone. If you want to be notified about them, just subscribe to our email newsletter or follow our social media accounts.