Because, Greece is a mountainous country, 70% of its land is mountainous, it is the second most mountainous country in Europe. Nowadays, a few people live in mountains, but this was not always the case. For centuries Greece’s heart was beating in mountains. Especially during the Turkish rule, Greece was breathing freely up in the high mountains. There was life, there was production, there was civilization. Up to the second half of the 20th century. Beginning from the 1940, the mountainous areas of Greece underwent four major blows. The Second World War, the Greek Civil War and, then, two large “tsunamis”: the former of the immigration, in the ‘60s, and the latter of the urbanization, in the ‘70s, that drained the life from the mountains. They made mountains outcast of the developments, throughout all the levels. In this manner, the life froze in mountains, their productive base was attenuated.
Something was saved, though. Due to the “fridge” in which they got in, mountains were rescued from the juggernaut of a “makeshift” development, aesthetically poor, consuming values and destroying heedlessly the environment. Most mountainous areas remained untouched, untainted by this development. Today, it seems that the modern man is tired from the mundane life and environment of the cities and searches for evasion ways to the mountains. She seeks again the real life, in the pristine natural environment of the mountains and in the clearer relationships of the local societies. However, this gives birth to new problems.
Will modern man turn with a veneration to what has been saved, to the valuable natural and cultural heritage of the mountainous areas or will come to consume, to ruin what has been left, to walk away, once again, for good? The same dilemma begets also a question for the mountainous societies themselves. Will mountainous societies select a kind of development based on the actual human needs, a balanced and integrated development, or will they succumb to the enticement of the facile enrichment, which will consume very quickly anything genuine that has been left and will marginalize mountainous areas definitively.
These big questions are central issues of the postgraduate programme “Environment and Development of the Mountainous Areas”.
The fact that mountainous Greece was in the sideline was reflected on the educational level too. Up to now, there was no academic structure either in undergraduate or postgraduate level dealing specifically with the problems of mountainous Greece. In contrast, other mountainous areas already have, for years. Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Canada provide studies specialized on the mountainous areas, in undergraduate or postgraduate level. National Technical University of Athens throughout its course has always been staying alert to the great social problems. That is why it took the initiative of the founding and running of a postgraduate programme with specialization to the mountainous areas.