Technology and the Refugee Crisis Mytilene, 9–11 November 2017


Technology and the Refugee Crisis Mytilene, 9–11 November 2017

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The Lesbos Dialogues will be organized on the island of Lesbos by the University of Agder, Norway and the Municipality of Lesvos. By organizing the event on Lesbos, the organizers aim at anchoring the relevant research and the dialogues on one of the main entrance points of refugees to Europe, giving at the same time  the event the added value of the symbolic support of the academic and political Europe to the Greek islands and their citizens.


The first Lesbos Dialogue is dedicated to how technology, mainly communication technology, can support the refugees, the host communities, and the organisations that are involved in the reception of the refugees and the function of the refugee camps.

The main aim of this dialogue is to chart the field, discuss best practices and propose technological solutions, after an in-depth discussion between politicians and policy-makers, experts, NGOs, high-tech companies, and representatives of the refugees.

Our discussion will focus on both the refugees and the host communities, taking constantly into consideration the needs of everybody involved in the refugee crisis, including the local societies. We will focus on the proposal of practical solutions and/or improvements of the practices employed so farIn the following lines, you may find the thematic areas/sessions we will consider, the keynote speakers and the members of the panels.

Please note that the programme is not yet closed. We hope that more invitees (local, national and international politicians, tech companies, and experts) will honour us with their participation within the next couple of weeks. If you are willing to participate with a short presentation, please contact Apostolos Spanos at

To attend the event, you may register online by clicking the following link: Please register and feel free to share the link with any other interested in joining us.


Thursday 9 November

Opening session (17:00–17:30) 

Spyros Galinos, Mayor of Lesvos.

Professor Kerry Stephen Seiler, Vice Rector of the University of Agder.

Elisabeth Lothe, Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy in Athens.

Charting the current situation (17:30–20:00)

This session focuses on the current situation, the challenges regarding technological needs and initiatives taken so far on local and regional level. Politicians, organisations, and local authorities are invited to exchange their experiences on the current needs, what has so far functioned well and what has not.

Keynote speakerProfessor Friedrich Heckmann, University of Bamberg, Director of the European Forum for Migration Studies.

Panel members

Spyros Galinos, Mayor of Lesvos.

Phillipe Lerlerc, UNHCR, Greece Representative.

Dimitris Papandreou, Doctors of the World – Greece.

Aria Danika, Project Coordinator Lesvos – Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). 

Efi Latsoudi, Lesvos Solidarity, Winner of UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award 2016.

Professor Katja Franko, University of Oslo.

Christofóros Schuff, activist.

A refugee (name to be announced).

Ioannis Spilanis, associate Professor, University of the Aegean.

Friday 10 November

Technology and social innovation

One of the main challenges regarding the refugee crisis is related to the social innovations needed to improve the possibilities of the refugees for employment, better education and accommodation and higher quality of life, both while their applications are under procedure and after its approval.  In this session, we will discuss realistic proposals and best practices on how technology may initiate and/or support such innovations. Experts, refugees, NGOs and relevant companies are expected to share their experience and their plans and expectations for the future.

Part I (9:00–11:00)

Keynote speaker: Professor Apostolos Spanos, University of Agder: “Optimising social innovation in the refugee crisis”.

Panel members

Professor Sotiris Chtouris, University of the Aegean: “Employment and the refugee identity: Is there a place for innovative and creative actions?”

Andrea Cederquist, PhD candidate, Christian Albrechts Univeristy of Kiel: “Enabling courageous conversations: the task of leadership“.

Maria Ullrich, Phd candidate, University of Siegen: “Media and refugees’ self organisation”.

A refugee (name to be announced).

Part I (12:00–14:00)

Panel members

Dr. Eugene Guribye, Head of Research at Agder Research & Trond Stalsberg Mydland, PhD candidate and researcher at Agder Research, “International volunteerism on Lesbos”.

Vasili Sofiadellis, Founder of Change Makers Lab: “Establishing Lesvos as a Global Humanitarian Tech Hub”.

Christina Thomopoulos, National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos”: “Archaeological Workouts: A multilingual workshop for community dialogue through artistic, digital and performative games”.

Adil Izemrane, Movement on the Ground: “CamptoCampUS – The redefinition of a refugee camp”.

A refugee (name to be announced).

Mobile learning (17:30–20:00)

This session focuses on the education of both young and senior refugees. Mobile learning may provide solutions to a number of issues, for example by offering young refugees the possibility of continuing learning their mother language, or by introducing both young and senior refugees to the language and culture of the host countries. Mobile learning can of course not be a substitution to mainstream education.

Keynote speakerAssociate Professor Helen Crompton, Old Dominion University: “Using the Mobile Device as a Tool to Access Educational Opportunities: Providing a Future for Refugees”.

Panel members

Mark West, Associate Project Officer, UNESCO: “A lifeline to learning: Leveraging mobile technology to support the education of refugees” (online participation).

Associate Professor Nicola Pitchford, University of Nottingham: “Using mobile technology to facilitate learning of basic numeracy and literacy skills: Implications for the refugee crisis”.

Stelios Thomopoulos, National Centre for Scientific Research “Demokritos”: “SMART Camp:  An approach of targeted learning and teaching of skills andprofessional confidence through hands-on experience”

Aris Papadopoulos, LATRA: “Promoting digital literacy and 21st century tech skills via S.T.E.A.M workshops”.

Lynne Walker, Humanitarian worker/Informal educator: “Creating the right environment for learning”.

A refugee (name to be announced).

Saturday 11 November

Monitoring and modelling the crisis (9:00–11:00) 

This is one of the most challenging and creative sessions of the Dialogue. Here we will focus on simulation programs and projects that may provide valuable contribution to the technological mapping and modelling of social, economic, cultural, and religious dimensions of the crisis. Experts, companies, and politicians will discuss simulation models that can assist policy makers in getting a better picture of any current situation, be aware of trends and possible future scenarios, as well as experimenting with strategic alternatives in dealing with various aspects of the crisis.

Keynote speakers

Professor LeRon Shults, University of Agder: “Simulating Solutions: Challenges and Opportunities in the Computer Modeling of Refugee, Immigration, and Integration Crises”

Assistant Professor Erika Frydenlund, Old Domition University – Virginia Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center: “Toward facilitating stakeholder discussions and trade-off evaluations”.

Panel members

Assistant Professor Jose Padilla, Old Dominion University – Virginia Modelling, Analysis & Simulation Centre: “Toward facilitating stakeholder discussions and trade-off evaluations”.

Carlos Lemos, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Agder: “A network agent-based model of cooperation between immigrants and a host society”.

Joel Myhre, PhD candidate, University of Agder: “It takes a (Greek and Global) Village: From Haiti, to Ebola, to Nepal, to Lesvos, how international Volunteer Technical Communities and Innovative Information and Communications Technologies together form a Revolution in Agile Humanitarian Response”.

Conclusions and brainstorming on the Future  (12:00–14:00)

Panel with all keynote speakers.  – Open discussion.

Crowdfunding seminar (16:00–19:00)

Online crowdfunding could become a solution to challenges related to financing various acts related not only to the refugee crisis but also to the local economic development, from establishing local structures and infrastructures to supporting refugees and locals in establishing economic activities, inside or outside the camps.

The main aim of this workshop is to present and discuss concrete solutions on how to use crowdfunding in a responsible and transparent manner. Anyone interested in using crowdfunding, in any kind of projects, related to the refugee crisis or not, is welcome to participate in the workshop.

Refugees, local stakeholders and individuals, NGOs and other organisations are invited to participate.

The seminar will take place at hotel Blue Sea in Mytilene (P. Kountouriotou 91.

Workshop leaders

Associate Professor Rotem Shneor, University of Agder, Head of the Nordic Crowdfunding Alliance.

Effie Tsiotsiou, Executive Director, Onassis Foundation.



The Lesbos Dialogues is an international and interdisciplinary project. In its first phase, it focuses on the refugee crisis. It’s main aims are:

  • To provide greater understanding of core issues related to the refugee crisis.
  • To propose realistic solutions on how to better handle these issues.
  • To promote in-depth dialogues between the academic world, the relevant political authorities and policy-makers (mainly on the municipality level), social and economic factors, civil society groups, voluntary organizations, local authorities and institutions, and representatives of the refugees themselves.

The project aims at arranging a series of individual dialogues, as for example the human rights and children rights dialogue, the societal dialogue, the legal dialogue, the educational dialogue, the religious dialogue, and the technological dialogue.

The Lesbos Dialogues will be organized on the island of Lesbos by the University of Agder, Norway and the Municipality of Lesvos.

By organizing the event on Lesbos, the organizers aim at anchoring the relevant research and the dialogues on one of the main entrance points of refugees to Europe, giving at the same time  the event the added value of the symbolic support of the academic and political Europe to the Greek islands and their citizens.

Furthermore, this is one of the few actions of open government in Europe, where the refugees themselves are invited to participate in discussions on charting the current situation and determining best practices to improve at least some of the issues related to their lives and their future.