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Mathesis: Free Online Courses for Everyone, from Quantum Physics to Ancient Greek Philosophy

It was spring 2014 when Stefanos Trachanas visited the offices of our foundation for the first time. Although we were already familiar with Crete University Press from its successful thirty-year record, during that first meeting, we found out about its new vision for the establishment of the Mathesis Open Internet Courses Center.

I still remember Stefano’s passion and enthusiasm as he recounted the long hours of research and pilot efforts that had laid the groundwork for it.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) was the founding donor to Mathesis. Today, after five years of operation and a new grant from SNF, the Center has offered 41 courses, and 81,000 enrolled students have participated in these courses free of charge. If they wish, participants can pay a nominal fee to receive a certificate of successful course completion. To date, nearly 3,500 certificates have been issued free of charge to people who are unemployed.

The award Mathesis received from the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises during its annual general meeting in 2019 was undoubtedly an honor for the Mathesis team, who have made extraordinary efforts to establish such a high-quality initiative with renowned instructors in many different disciplines.

But, in my opinion, even better evidence of the project’s success is the way in which the public embraced it during lockdown, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, repeats of almost all Mathesis courses were offered. The response is impressive, with new registrations during that period alone exceeding 10,000.

You no longer need to be a student in the Physics Department of the University of Crete or have specialized knowledge on the subject to attend the course Vasso Pavlidou and Kostas Tassis teach on the universe. Everyone can now attend easily, each from their own home, on their own time. We feel doubly proud to have also collaborated with these two renowned scientists in supporting the development of PASIPHAE, a promising research program aimed at producing a three-dimensional map of the magnetic dust in our galaxy as part of an effort to identify gravitational waves from the Big Bang.

Eleni Agouridi
SNF Senior Program Officer, Athens