Academy of Cultural Heritages ACU
The idea of ACU has emerged in the context of an interdisciplinary and international research project entitled Semiotics of Cultural Heritages; it has since 2013 organized symposia in Imatra (Finland), Rome, Sofia, Kaunas (Lithuania) and Istanbul, funded through the Wihuri Foundation in Finland and other state institutions in the afore-mentioned countries. Its goal is to investigate the preservation, renewal and animation of valuable cultural heritages by means of semiotics, a discipline which studies signs and communication. It now includes over 80 scholars from all over the world.
The term cultural heritage stems from this connection, but for the newly founded Academy of Cultural Heritages it assumes a broader meaning. The purpose of the Academy is namely to foster especially the roots of European culture starting from its beginning, the Greek ‘miracle’, i.e. the birth of philosophical culture around Plato and Aristotle, and, as its continuation, the heritage of Hellenism in Rome – without excluding non-European traditions, manifest f.ex. in the Persian and Arabic influences upon European culture. From this starting point the Academy will try to keep alive central canonic issues of European culture in philosophy, the arts and culture in general.
The activities of the Academy will consist in organizing seminars and symposia, publishing treatises, a journal and a webpage, giving grants and arranging various artistic events and performances. One becomes a member by invitation or by joining as a supporting member and donator. The academy is registered in Finland where it will have its headquarter and office. Its main sites will be in Helsinki and Greece. An International Advisory Board of the Academy has been formed.
In Greece particularly its central function is to revive the idea of a Platonic academy in the form of one-week seminars arranged on the Greek island of Syros twice a year; in addition, similar type and other suitable events will be also held regularly in Helsinki and in Athens. This Platonic academy would offer an opportunity for top scholars of various fields and young students to meet each other in a productive and inspiring interaction, in the form of an open discussion and dialogue. The Academy is completely international and interdisciplinary by its nature.
Accordingly, the purpose of the Academy is educational. However, the scholars who arrive at these sessions will also train each other, as was once the case in the legendary New School of Social Research in New York in the 1940s. A key point of the academy is that, as in the French Academy since 1635, all the lectures given by teachers will represent their most recent research. Thus, though the aim of the Academy is to restore and return to the primal origins of European culture in Greece, on the other hand it approaches these canons in a fresh manner, as they speak to men and women in the 21st century. Nor are important non-European heritages excluded.
The Academy thus has two aspects: old and new. Its goal is remembering, restoring and maintaining cultural phenomena, behaviours, texts and values which are endangered by the globalised commercial market civilisation expanded all over the world, as well as by other threats. Yet it is new in the way it realises this goal by animating these traditions through an intellectual experience and new teaching methods in its seminars. It thus aims to become a more efficient form of education than that which is often offered in more formalised institutional academic environments, particularly at a time when official policies are interested only in the direct utilisation and economic profit to be made from science and art (“science must make money”).
The Academy will publish its findings, i.e. proceedings from the seminars, in the international series Acta semiotica fennica. Moreover it proposes to give some small grants each year to young scholars promoting its research programme.