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Study in Greece Master of the Week: Prof Nikos Zacharias presents the Master of Science in Cultural Heritage Materials and Technologies

The online portal Study in Greece is campaigning for the international visibility of Greek Universities and the comparative education advantages of our country. In particular, the campaign is about the foreign language study programs Greek Universities offer to Greek and international students. The initiative is supported by the General Secretariat of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In this context, a number of educational programs and actions are presented in detail on a regular basis, such as undergraduate and postgraduate programs, summer schools etc, to inform international students about the many foreign language options provided by Greek Universities. In this context Study in Greece interviewed Professor Nikos Zacharias on the Master of Science in Cultural Heritage Materials and Technologies which is taught in English and offered by the Department of History, Archaeology and Cultural Resources Management of the University of the Peloponnese, in collaboration with the National Center for Scientific Research Demokritos, and the National Observatory of Athens. Professor Zacharias, Director of Graduate Studies, explains the comparative advantages the MSc in Cultural Heritage Materials and Technologies has to offer to international students.

Professor Nikos Zacharias studied Chemical Engineering at the National Technical University of Athens (Metsovion) and carried out his MSc and PhD at the NCSR Demokritos in the field of luminescence dating supported by a scholarship from the Ministry of Research and Development. He then realized 2 post-doctoral programmes at Bonn University (GEOPRO/FP5) and NCSR Demokritos (IKY/State Scholarships Foundation). From 2004 – 2009 he worked as a researcher at Demokritos and as visiting staff member at the Technological Educational Institute of Piraeus. Since 2009 he has joined the University of the Peloponnese (Chair of the Dept. of History, Archaeology and Cultural Resources Management, November 2015-). He is a member of the Board of the Hellenic Society for Archaeometry and a Member of the International Symposium on Archaeometry Standing Committee. He has published extensively (over 140 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and symposia proceedings) in the fields of luminescence dating, pottery and glass analysis, characterization and provenance.

Could you tell us in a few words what the Master of Science in Cultural Heritage Materials and Technologies is all about?

Studies in the interdisciplinary field of Archaeological Science aim to bridge the gap between archaeology and the physical sciences. CultTech MSc is designed to provide broad but detailed knowledge in the theory, as well as hands-on experience in the major applications of science in archaeology since there is an abundance of archaeological artefacts recovered from systematic excavations in the country.

The taught courses of the programme focus on all major directions of Archaeological Science, such as archaeomaterials, dating, geoarchaeology, field prospection, 3D visualisation and reconstruction, etc. Moreover, theoretical courses of Landscape Archaeology and Cultural Heritage Management are also provided, aiming at providing students with a holistic approach.

A key issue for CultTech is its orientation towards hands-on research thus offering post-graduate research extensive laboratory training, via small-group lab sessions. Additionally, students are offered the potential of the implementation of a thesis project closely related or within ongoing research projects.

Tell us about the collaboration between the Department of History, Archaeology and Cultural Resources Management – University of the Peloponnese, the National Center for Scientific Research Demokritos, and the National Observatory of Athens. Why did you choose to collaborate with these two institutions?

The National Center for Scientific Research Demokritos is today the largest multidisciplinary Research Centre in Greece, with approximately 190 Researchers in tenured and tenure-track positions and over 500 Research Personnel working in projects funded mainly by grants from State Funds, the European Union and Private Industries. CultTechMSc is collaborating with the Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and the Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics, which conduct significant research in the analysis of archaeological materials. Through this collaboration, students are offered the potential of working within the facilities of Demokritos, using a wide array of state-of-the-art equipment for the chemical analysis and dating of materials.

In addition, the National Observatory of Athens is the first research centre in Modern Greece. The collaborating Institute of Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (IERSD) specializes in the fields of air quality, environmental monitoring, meteorology, climate and climate change. Through this collaboration, students are provided with specialized knowledge in Environmental studies and how they link with Cultural Heritage sustainability, as well as innovative methods and applied services for monitoring and conservation.

Overall, the collaboration of the three institutions allows students to familiarize themselves with both the academic and the research environment and gain significant experience in the implementation of research.

Given that the program is English-taught, which are the benefits offered to international students?

In recent years there is an overall shift of the Greek academic world towards English-speaking programmes. The incorporation of foreign students in our academic communities can greatly assist the dissemination of the research work conducted by Greek teams. At the same time, the continuous interaction with young academics originating from diverse academic backgrounds is necessary for the enrichment and enhancement of the research protocols applied in Greek research facilities.

CultTech students will be a part of a diverse and multi-national group and will be given the opportunity to use a wide range of specialist facilities and collections while being taught by internationally recognised, research-oriented academic staff. During the Academic Year, educational visits to the National Center for Scientific Research Demokritos and the National Observatory of Athens are scheduled for MSc students as well as field trips around the Peloponnese region and Navarino Environmental Observatory at Costa Navarino Pylos, in order to familiarise students with the most dynamic national scientific centres and with the natural beauty and the rich cultural heritage of the region of the Peloponnese.

Why should an international student choose Kalamata as a study destination?

Kalamata is the capital of the Prefecture of Messinia, an area with numerous significant cultural heritage sites. CultTech students are given the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the history and the archaeological sites of the area, through guided tours and field trips.

Kalamata is located at the centre of Messinian Bay and at the foot of the breathtaking Mount Taygetos. Students attending the CultTech MSc program have the opportunity to live and attend courses near the city centre and only a short walk from the iconic beachfront.

In contrast to its size, Kalamata remains a picturesque seaside town, true to its culture and traditions. From folk dancing, traditional cuisine to paragliding and hiking adventures, students can experience the essence of Kalamata city, and the beautiful nearby nature combining sea and mountain. About 10% of the city population (80,000) are students registered in the University of the Peloponnese, which is the largest University in Greece. The city offers a vast variety of cultural and sports activities, as well as nightlife options. Kalamata is also known as the national capital of modern dance, hosting annually for the past 25 years, the International Kalamata Dance Festival.

Which has been the output of this Master’s degree so far? Is it satisfactory?

CultTech MSc has been running for the past 6 academic years, with over 50 graduate students so far. The vast majority of CultTech graduates are currently working in positions related to Cultural Heritage and Archaeology in Greece or abroad (e.g. multiple Ephorates of Antiquity in Greece, Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, Landes Museum in Hannover etc.).

It should be highlighted that CultTech MSc is strongly oriented towards research, providing students with the necessary practical and theoretical tools to pursue an academic career. As a result, over 30% of the CultTech graduates are currently PhD candidates in Universities in Greece or abroad.

Tell us a few things about the University of the Peloponnese – its history, its departments, the scientific disciplines and the research carried out by the university.

The University of the Peloponnese is a modern, multidisciplinary, regional and multi-campus university, which was established in 2000 and accepted its first students in 2002. Developed in the five Capitals of Prefectures of the Peloponnese Region (Tripolis, Corinth, Nafplion, Sparta, Kalamata) and Patra, it comprises of 9 Schools and 22 Departments. It offers studies in all cycles of learning: undergraduate, postgraduate and Doctoral as well as Life Long Learning, with more than 20.000 students attending the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cycle of Studies. The faculties of the University of the Peloponnese are focused in a variety of scientific disciplines from Natural Sciences, Engineering & Technology and Social Sciences to Humanities and Cultural Heritage Studies. About 160 competitive research projects are in progress (participation in 7 H2020 & 20 Erasmus+) with 70 internationally and 85 nationally funded projects.

In your opinion, how does this master contribute to the social, economic and cultural life of the city of Kalamata?

Operating a multinational Master of Science enforces the social, economic and cultural interaction between students and the local community, promoting the city of Kalamata worldwide. Students enjoy their living in Kalamata and they tend to spend time around the city getting familiar with local customs and visiting cultural sites and places of natural beauty. Through their studies, they are encouraged to focus in the analysis of archaeological material from Messenian archaeological sites and to develop various projects concerning Cultural Heritage management and sustainability of the area.

For more info visit: http://culttech.uop.gr/

The interview was published in Greek News Agenda (GNA) – the online English language platform, issued by the Secretariat General for Public Diplomacy and Greeks Abroad (Ministry of Foreign Affairs): https://www.greeknewsagenda.gr/interviews/innovative-greece-2/7484-study-in-greece-master%E2%80%99s-of-the-week-prof-nikos-zacharias-presents-the-master-of-science-in-cultural-heritage-materials-and-technologies

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