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A Q&A with Greek Diaspora Fellowship Program alumnus Constantinos K. Coursaris

May 01, 2023

Dr. Constantinos K. Coursaris, Professor of Information Technologies at HEC Montreal, Director of M.Sc. User Experience, and Co-Director of Tech3Lab

Why were you interested in connecting with your host university in Greece?

I was born and raised in Greece and moved abroad to pursue my university education. After living in Canada and the US for more than 20 years, there was a sentimental motivation to meet fellow academics in Greece. Moreover, meeting scholars with shared research interests and who are active in similar thematic areas afforded the opportunity to engage in collaborations, which once they were to bear fruit, would offer more intrinsic rewards than usual research projects.”

How did participating in the program change your own scholarship, research, or teaching?

“The program provided me with the opportunity to lecture in Greek for the first time! Even as a native Greek speaker, after more than a two-decade long departure from Greece to North America, where opportunities to use my mother tongue were limited, teaching in Greek was a highly rewarding challenge. Also, through the collaborations initiated during the program, my research program was enriched and extended via studies that I would simply not have undertaken had I not met and collaborated with my colleagues in Greece.”

What lasting connections did you form through your fellowship?

“There are two types of connections I made through this fellowship: first, a smaller group of Greece-based scholars with whom I collaborate on research, and a second much larger group comprised of faculty and graduate students, whom I taught or mentored during my visit, and with whom I stay connected via social media and encounters during academic conferences. Even though the fellowship’s duration was rather short, the bonds formed were strong, and it is always wonderful when I receive updates, whether professional or personal, from them.”

Would you encourage a colleague to participate in a program like the GDFP? Why?

“Absolutely. Living ‘halfway around the world’ from Greece, GDFP affords an opportunity for Greek and diaspora academics to connect with Greek academics and graduate students, engage in research collaborations, teaching, and mentoring activities, and even develop joint academic programs. All of these make for a rich and value-creating experience for the fellow—while spending time in beautiful Greece!”

What do you see as the value of international exchange like this?

“GDFP and similar programs serve as community bridges with multiple benefits for all stakeholders involved. While the tangible value of professional activities performed during the fellowship are meaningful, there is a longer term, cultural dimension to value creation that cannot be overlooked. For the Greek diaspora, such programs provide an unparalleled opportunity a fellow’s cultural immersion and perhaps revitalizing of their Greek identity. For the host institution and local stakeholders, they provide exposure to a Greek network abroad, who are eager to support their Greek peers providing access to resources (e.g., funding for graduate studies abroad), raising awareness of professional opportunities (e.g., academic positions), and being available to support in any way possible.”