What is ATHENA?
ATHENA is a Socrates Thematic Network Project in which 80 Women's and Gender Studies Programmes at universities, research institutes and documentation centres in Europe participate. ATHENA was created in 1996 by the Association of Institutions for Feminist Education and Research in Europe (AOIFE), and was selected as a Socrates Thematic Network Project in September 1998. The ATHENA central coordination is located at Utrecht University, the Netherlands.
In 2001, the first three year period of the Thematic Network Project came to an end in order to start dissemination phase in September 2002. In November 2002 a new application for the next phase: ATHENA II, shall be submitted to the Commission.
In short, the dissemination phase will be carried out five complementary strategies: 1) through a wide dissemination of the ATHENA publications and additionally, through translation of selected relevant publications into languages that would allow especially partners from the South and the East of Europe to benefit from the publications; 2) through networking the wider field of Women's Studies in Europe; 3) through the organisation of regional seminars around the ATHENA results and outcomes, during which expert meetings around the panel publications will be organised with the different target groups. One regional seminar will take place in the North, targeting the Nordic and the Baltic countries; one in the Central-East, targeting Central-Eastern Europe; and one in the South, targeting the South of Europe; 4) through the 5th European Feminist Research Conference, to take place in August 2003, organised by the ATHENA network, in Lund, Sweden; 5) through dissemination of the results through the ATHENA website. An important role in this dissemination project will be for the libraries and documentation centres. The documentation centres are a very rich resource and a perfect location from which to disseminate the results of ATHENA to the wider field of Women's Studies in Europe. Furthermore, the big aim of the dissemination project is to enlarge the partnership, with special emphasis on the South and the East of Europe. New partners from those regions are especially welcome in ATHENA II, and we hope to be able to link up to new contacts and continue cooperation with those already involved.
If you are interested in participating in ATHENA, please contact the ATHENA central coordination at firstname.lastname@example.org. All institutions which are members of AOIFE can participate in the development of current ATHENA activities. If you want to be included in the Socrates list of Thematic Network Project partners for the next phase (ATHENA II) 2003/2004, you have to be registered as an official member before 15 September 2002.
ATHENA is based on the SIGMA European Subject Area Evaluation of Women's Studies conducted in 1994-95 by the European commission (DG XXII), coordinated by the Department of Women's Studies in the Arts, Utrecht University. Experts from nineteen countries produced national reports on the state of Women's Studies in their countries. After the confer-ence 'Women's Studies in Europe: Evalua-tion, Co-operation and New Perspectives' in Coimbra, Portugal, two final SIGMA reports were produced: an evaluation report on sixteen Erasmus programs in Women's Studies and a Synthesis Report on recommen-dations for the improvement of European co-operation within the field of Women's Studies. The ATHENA activities build on the outcomes of these evaluations. During the 3rd European Feminist Research Conference in Coimbra (1997) the first ATHENA working group meeting took place. This meeting started the content-oriented planning and activ-ities for the ATHENA working groups.
A Thematic Network under the Socrates programme of the European Commission is a forum for reflection, a platform for policy-making, advice and quality evaluation in a specific area. Moreover, a Thematic Network is a teaching network, focusing on the development of a European dimension through setting up co-operation activities in the field of curriculum development, teaching methodologies, and research and policy-making on education.
Women's Studies developed across Europe by following the variety of academic and cultural traditions in the different countries. As a result, it is an area in which the structure and contents of educational programmes currently vary widely across Europe. Therefore, a strong need exists for cross-cultural and multicultural analysis and comparison in the area of Women's Studies education. This need is made stronger by the fact that most Women's Studies curricula at present are dominated by North American perspectives and materials, and that the European perspective is underrepresented. Moreover, being multi-disciplinary, multicultural and socially oriented, Women's Studies requires specific curricula innovation and teaching methods. The Advanced Thematic Network in Activities in Women's Studies provides a unique opportunity to systematise the comparison of European perspectives and thus contribute to a more precise definition of interdisciplinary gender-education. The disciplinary fields concerned are the Humanities, Social Sciences and Technology Studies, including Law, Administrative studies, Political Science, Business Studies, Education, Health and Medicine.
Thus, there are five main reasons for creating a Thematic Network Project in the field of Women's Studies: