Open Forum “Literacy and Democracy in the Era of Technology and Information: facts, challenges, strategies”

In our modern era, we face daunting challenges: misinformation runs rampant across Europe and beyond, significantly impacting our national interests. While social media saturates our lives, particularly captivating our youth, literacy rates decline. Additionally, the rise of Artificial Intelligence raises profound concerns, especially in education and the arts. Global crises dominate our attention, shaping public discourse.

As we confront these obstacles, safeguarding democratic principles is paramount. What strategic investments must society make to foster economic growth, achieve sustainable development goals, and safeguard cultural heritage? Amidst these deliberations, how does literacy contribute to shaping our collective future?

In the light of the 2024 European Parliament elections it is even more important to tackle these issue. Therefore, EURead, Diavazontas Megalono and Goethe-Institut Athen are inviting you to an open forum, which will be held on the 4th of June, 2024, at the premises of Goethe-Institut Athen (14-16 Omirou str., Athens, Greece).

Speakers and topics

‘To understand the full significance of reading, it is not enough to approach it functionally and ask, ‘What do we do with reading?’ We must also ask the reverse question, ‘What does reading do to us?’ For reading and writing are more than just functional skills: they are intellectual achievements that change the very way our brains are able to think’. Prof. Adriaan van der Weel will address these questions in his speech, ‘Reading to Think: The Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher-Level Reading,’ beginning a discussion on how we can safeguard this achievement and support our vulnerable democracies.

Prof. Venetia Apostolidou will share insights based on research and experience, which show that many children who used to read books systematically fail to progress to the next level of reading more complex texts, whether informational or literary, once they leave children’s books behind. In her presentation, ‘The Critical Transition from Childhood to Adolescence for the Development of Higher-Level Reading Competencies: Findings and Suggestions,’ she will explore the causes related to the role of education, the media, and teenage literature.

Though it is self-evident that literacy, from basic decoding to the higher order skills of critical literacy, is essential to modern participatory democracy, yet illiteracy rates across Europe and the British Isles have remained roughly the same at around twenty percent of the population. In this sense, tracking variations in PISA results, and obsessing, as politicians and the media do, over national league tables, is to pay attention to an illusion, because there is a persistent underlying correlation between poverty rates, rates of illiteracy, and poor educational attainment. Marc Lambert will argue that this makes the task of reading promoters complex, as we must address not a single, easily comprehensible issue, but rather the intersection of socio-economics, education, culture, and productivity.

If you believe in the importance of reading and literacy in shaping robust democracies and are seeking solutions and constructive dialogue among different key stakeholders, you are most welcome to join us.

The forum will be moderated by Prof. Maria Stratigaki.

Free entrance | Simultaneous English-Greek interpretation provided

About the speakers and the moderator

Prof. Venetia Apostolidou

Professor of Modern Greek Literature and Literary Education

School of Primary Education, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki

Director of the Centre for Reading and Writing in School and Society  

Venetia Apostolidou is a Professor of Modern Greek Literature and Literary Education at the School of Primary Education of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. She is the Director of the Centre of Reading and Writing in School and Society. Her research interests focus on the fields of the history of Modern Greek criticism, post-war prose and literary education. Her latest book Literature at the University. The construction of Modern Greek Philology (1942-1982), Polis publications 2022, was awarded the Ourani prize of the Academy of Athens.

Prof. Adriaan van der Weel

Emeritus extraordinary professor of Book Studies

University of Leiden

The Netherlands

Adriaan van der Weel is emeritus extraordinary professor of Book Studies, University of Leiden, the Netherlands. His research focuses on the screen revolution in textual communication and reading. As vice-chair of the COST Action ‘E-READ’, about the future of reading in the digital age, Van der Weel was co-author of the ‘Stavanger Declaration Concerning the Future of Reading’ (2019) and the ‘Ljubljana Manifesto on Higher Level Reading’ (2023). His latest book, co-authored with Ruud Hisgen, is entitled The reading human: How the book defines our existence (2022; in Dutch).

Marc Lambert


Scottish Book Trust

United Kingdom

Marc Lambert graduated from Edinburgh University in 1986 with an MA Hons degree in History. He has worked for Waterstone and Co. as a main fiction buyer, and for Penguin Books in Italy and the UK. After four years of writing about and interpreting contemporary art at The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, he joined The Edinburgh International Book Festival in 2000, becoming Assistant Director. In 2002 he was appointed CEO of Scottish Book Trust. Since then he has grown the Trust from a small organisation of three people into a national charity with 70+ staff, winning 10 Arts & Business and Business in the Community awards. A Trustee of Literature Alliance Scotland and the Netherbow Trust he chaired the Scottish Government English Excellence Group, and was a member of the Scottish Government’s Standing Literacy Commission. He has written widely both on the visual arts, and on book and literacy related subjects. 


Prof. Maria Stratigaki 

Professor Emeritus at the Department of Social Policy of Panteion University

Deputy Mayor for Social Solidarity, and Equality in the City of Athens 

Maria Stratigaki is Deputy Mayor for Social Solidarity, and Equality in the City of Athens since 1st January 2024. She has served at the same position from 2014 to 2019. She is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Social Policy of Panteion University. She served as General Secretary for Gender Equality (2009-2012) and worked at the European Commission (1991-1999). Her research interests are gender equality policies, gender-based violence and gender in migration She was scientific coordinator of EU funded FP7 research projects on Gender and Gender Equality Policies. She has published in Social Politics, the European Journal of Women’s Studies and Femina Politica. She is the author of the books: The Gender of Social Policy (2007) and Gender Equality Policies: UN, EU, Greece (2021). She is a founding member of the first European Feminist Think Tank Gender 5+. 

Under the auspices and with the support of

Under the auspices

With the support of Greek Collecting Society for Literary Works

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