Under the impact of globalization, modern societies are threatened by homogenization and the loss of the identity of the objects and subjects which form their discernible components. In combination with the current unreasonable use of natural resources and, in the totalizing spirit of globalization, the identification of a quality lifestyle solely with material wealth and of free time exclusively with entertainment, modern societies adopt a frail hierarchical model of values, which debases the meaning of education.
Given the fact that future modern societies will exclusively consist of urban centers, while rural areas and other marginalized social groups will shrink – a process which will be further advanced by citizen and governmental interventions in the context of the latter’s attempts to find solutions to the problems of urbanized societies, hence dramatically influencing the way of life in suburban rural areas –, rural regions are inevitably led to social exclusion. Through this idiosyncratic, non-empirical cultural mutation, they will experience the imposition of the aloof and fixed cultures of “TV-citizenship” and “plastic money”, followed by the overpowering dependence of their residents on employment.
Empirical knowledge has already succumbed to the domination of scientific statistical data and information recycling, while the industrially-paced production of graduates in our universities threatens us with intellectual indolence, jeopardizing the vivacity of sober brains.
The dangers entailed are easily discernible. Crete is gradually led to the brutal violation of its environmental, residential and cultural identity, in the name of an easy acquisition of wealth, based on mass tourism and the clearance of Cretan land. Thus the social web is deconstructed, delinquency is rising and the island experiences, both on a national and on an international level, the humiliation of its traditional values.
As equilibrium to the effects of the aforementioned factors, the University of the Mountains emerges as a development vision which values respect towards the particularities of locality, the centuries-long cultural tradition of the mountainous rural areas and the special traits of local society and economy.
This vision is materialized as a multi-dimensional action-project, which is founded on “a human population base” and invests in local societies situated in the mountainous regions of Crete. At the same time, it is expressed as a project of meticulous intervention in rural areas and as a product of original, systematic and innovative reasoning.
Among the objectives of the University of the Mountains is the protection of human and natural environments, the boost of local economy through modern management tools for the deterrence of exploitation regarding natural resources, the annihilation of delinquency and the independence from loan and subsidiary-orientated economy. The project, therefore, aspires on the one hand to restore lost human relationships and the cultural identity of small societies, and to redefine, on the other, human happiness in the context of human indicators rather than financial data.
As tools for the realization of its objectives, the University of the Mountains will use dialogue and the combination of empirical with scientific knowledge provided by the people that serve them within and outside academia, in the field of primary production. Scientific support will be provided at all levels in main fields of intervention: education, culture, economy, health. Other means of implementation will be the nurturing into the culture of essential consumerism and the organization of cultural and visual arts festivals.
The University of the Mountains as a University outside academic campuses will operate on the outskirts of mountainous and isolated communities, at the heart of each local society, attempting to materialize the European dream for a multi-cultural society. There the maintenance of “rural identity” will become the essential and efficient condition for the formation of the social mosaic of a globalized European image.