The University of Milan (UMIL) is the largest University in Lombardy and one of the most dynamic and internationally-oriented EU regions, with a teaching staff of about 2.200 tenured professors and with almost 60.000 students. Established in 1924, its mission is to contribute to society through the pursuit of teaching/education and research at the highest international levels of excellence. It is the only Italian member amongst the 23 prestigious Universities of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). The University of Milan offers several study programmes covering three macro-disciplinary areas: i) Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, ii) Medicine and Healthcare and iii) Natural Sciences. In addition to its excellent level of Education provision, the University of Milan has an established reputation as one of the institutions most strongly committed to basic and applied Research in Europe.

The University of Milan joins the VAST project with a multi-disciplinary research team from the Computer Science and Historical Studies departments and leads WP5 Quality assurance: Pilot design, evaluation and assessment. Dr Stefano Montanelli is the lead person responsible for UMIL, while Dr Alfio Ferrara is the technical manager of the VAST project and Dr Giulia Giannini is promoting and leading the Values in Scientific Revolution texts pilot activities in WP2 Research: Researching Values across Space and Time. The goal of UMIL is to coordinate the design and development of the VAST pilots to ensure a uniform and coherent application of the VAST methodology. Quality assurance actions will be applied and coordinated by UMIL to ensure monitoring, analysis, and evaluation of the pilot impacts. UMIL brings in VAST expertise on Computational Humanities Research with particular emphasis on historical content digitisation, knowledge modelling for humanities, and collaborative content creation. UMIL provides technical contribution to the design of the VAST architecture where the team is responsible for semantic annotation services on historical sources with the aim of supporting the creation of the VAST knowledge base.

UMIL is primarily involved in the design of the VAST ontology where the annotation-driven knowledge about values is expressed in a semantic-web formalism to represent the emerging interpretations and transformations of values across places (space) and historical periods (time). In particular, the UMIL team focuses on the pilot about the Values in Scientific Revolution texts. UMIL aims to investigate how natural philosophers of the 17th century perceived moral values, how values were transformed and reinvented, and how they reconstructed a new image of the self and the world in the early modern period. The Team is also involved in promoting educational programmes and further events such as talks, debates, and museum nights. By leveraging on the expertise about crowdsourcing and storytelling, UMIL aims to involve educators, students, and museum visitors in general, to share their view about the values of the Scientific Revolution in today’s society.

Semantika is an innovative software development company based in Maribor, Slovenia with experience in Software Development, Web Solutions, Mobile and Multi-Touch Applications, specialising in high security and data intensive applications. Semantika is primarily active in the area of research and development of advanced software solutions, especially for the cultural heritage sector, including two in-house developed products:

  • Galis – a collection management system, used by more than 70 institutions in three countries and
  • Dynamic Data Development Platform, which enables us to quickly deliver custom build data intensive software for a wide variety of clients, which is currently used in a range of sectors.

Semantika’s team is also the author of MUSEUMS.EU – the largest portal for museums and galleries across Europe. This vast resource features hundreds of thousands of records, from collections and objects to exhibitions and events.

Semantika also has a registered research department that develops innovative algorithms in the area of data analytics and reporting and collaborates with the development team in all bigger projects with larger amounts of data that need to be analysed using modern artificial intelligence supported methods.

In the VAST project, Marko Kokol is the leading person responsible for the WP3: Develop and integrate – The VAST advanced digitisation platform. Semantika’s team will provide products, technologies, and tools to support the creation of the VAST platform, having the opportunity to test their commercial offerings and enhance them with new capabilities, as needed to support VAST requirements. In addition, Semantika will lead the commercialisation activities of the VAST platform, and contribute to its sustainability in close cooperation with the VAST consortium.

The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) is a public University located in Athens, Greece. Inaugurated in 1837, it has been the first University in the newly established Modern Greek state, as well as in the Balkan and the Eastern Mediterranean area. Its role has been historically and socially decisive for education and promotion of cultural life in the country and beyond. The NKUA has 5 University Research Institutes, 3 University Hospitals, 70 Clinics and Departments under the auspices of the School of Health Sciences, 224 University Laboratories, 11 libraries, the History Museum of the University, the Historical Archive, and 13 thematic museums. For the academic year 2019-20, the NKUA offers 42 undergraduate programs as well as 188 postgraduate programs leading to a Master’s or a Doctoral degree. NKUA is not only an Institution dedicated to education but is also a research-intensive University.

Emeritus Professor Theodore Grammatas, Department of Primary Education of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, is the lead person responsible for the WP1 Co-design: Multi-disciplinary scientific methodology for advanced digitisation.

Within the frame of the VAST Programme NKUA’s team develops the methodological frame of the research, the way of the analysis of the Ancient Drama plays (Tragedies and Comedies), and takes care of the creation of the questionnaire for the pilot study of an Ancient Tragedy theatre performance and its reception and mnemonic recording in the conscience of the modern audience. The aim of the program he is scientifically editing is to give prominence to the timelessness and timeliness of the values and ideas of the Ancient Greek Drama and Theatre, as well as their reception and exploitation by the spectators of these performances within the context of the modern world.

Apart from the analysis of the Ancient Greek Drama plays and the questionnaire for the reception of the theatre performance, the research is extended to the exploitation of the qualitative and quantitative data that will emerge by the audience research, as well as the interviews with the creators and artistic contributors, such as directors, actors, visual artists and so on. An overall picture of the Past and the Present of the Ancient Greek Drama and Theatre Values that signify the orientation and enhancement of the Modern European and Global culture as a whole is expected to emerge through the result analysis.

The Athens Epidaurus Festival is Greece’s leading cultural organisation and one of the oldest continuously running festivals in Europe. Spanning 66 years, the Festival has welcomed some of the greatest music, dance, and theatre artists of the international and local scene, in collaboration with the most prestigious Greek and international organisations, attracting large audiences from around the world. Up until 2005, the Festival had been held exclusively at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus and the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus. In the summer of 2006, five brand-new theatre stages were launched at the Peiraios 260 industrial venue which has since emerged as an important springboard for contemporary art. Artistic productions and site-specific performances are also presented at other venues in Attica and various locations as part of the Festival.

In the VAST project, the Athens Epidaurus Festival participates as a partner, with Dr Aristotelis Nikolaidis as the lead person, offering its knowledge and longtime expertise in ancient drama. Until now, the Festival has collaborated with the other partners contributing to VAST with the Festival’s archive (photographs and videos) and closely following the needs of WP1: CO-DESIGN: Multi-disciplinary scientific methodology for advanced digitisation, that is more related to ancient drama. Due to its long history the Festival has gained a leading role in the audience’s perception, especially regarding the performances in Ancient Epidaurus. The Athens Epidaurus Festival aims to engage existing and new audiences in Athens, Epidaurus and internationally with the VAST values by making the ancient texts more accessible to diverse audiences and allowing the latter to engage and empathise with the characters of the tragedies, as members of societies across time and place. The Festival is also planning to make good use of its rich archive and to organise communication actions and new research programmes, in order to disseminate the project to a large audience.

The National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos (NCSR Demokritos) is the largest multidisciplinary research center in Greece, with critical mass in expertise and infrastructure in the fields of Informatics and Telecommunications, Nanotechnology, Energy & Environment, Biosciences, Particle and Nuclear Science.

NCSR Demokritos has more than 1,200 staff, 180+ Researchers and 500+ research staff with many years of experience and numerous projects under its belt which are funded by the Greek State, the European Union, International organisations and the Industry. NCSR Demokritos conducts world-class basic and applied research, for advancing scientific knowledge and promoting technological development in selected areas of national socio-economic interest. The Center also plays a pivotal role in graduate education and professional training and its unique infrastructure is employed for high technology services to the Industry and the Society.

NCSR Demokritos is the coordinator of the VAST project, participating with SKEL The AI Lab of the Institute of Informatics and Telecommunications. Dr. Georgios Petasis is the lead person responsible for the overall management of the project. NCSR Demokritos is also leading WP6 Maximise Impact: Communication, engagement, dissemination and exploitation as well as WP7 Manage: Coordination and management.

NCSR Demokritos also participates in the project with the House of Classical Greek Ideas, a model exhibition on classical Greek ideas and ancient Greek philosophy. This exhibition on moral values will be a prominent physical venue where VAST’s activities can be put into practice and evaluated, engaging a wide audience of visitors, from students and youngsters, to tourists. As the coordinator of the project, NCSR Demokritos will provide the potential to organise VAST-specific events and exhibits, and use VAST results as a means to enhance its existing exhibitions. In addition, VAST will have full access to the repositories, datasets, digital assets and virtual exhibits of the House of Classical Greek Ideas, including a registry of values, an ontology of values concerning the axial age of the Greek-Roman world, organised as a graph, and connected with positions and opinions from many ancient Greek philosophers. This registry of values will be used as a basis for grounding VAST’s value-based semantic relations.

The Fairy Tale Museum (FTM), the VAST partner located in Cyprus, offers youngsters and adults an interactive journey in the world of culture and tradition through fairy tales, myths and legends. FTM aims at preserving, promoting and disseminating cultural heritage that includes fairy tales, folklore tales, myths and traditions from Cyprus and Greece, fostering the universality of fairy tales, familiarising with other cultures through their fairy tales and enhancing the love for reading. The Museum offers educational programmes and workshops for schools, families and children and organises themed exhibitions, storytelling events and featured events for authors and illustrators.

Mrs Vicky Balomenou is leading the FTM team in the VAST project, which will principally act as one of the pilot partners undertaking the responsibility for the collection, digitisation and analysis of the experiences of the museum’s visitors through the educational programme which will be developed and will run at the Museum. The predominant goal of the educational programme is to allow the consortium to assess, through self-reported questionnaires and interviews, the understanding of the visitors on the different values (e.g., democracy, equality, justice, friendship) presented in the stories of the programme and also to understand the visitors’ views on how these values are transmuted into their daily life on a personal and societal level. For the purposes of the educational programme pilot, the Museum will engage a wide range of visitors aiming at achieving a demographically represented sample of parents, students and the general public. In order for the educational programme to run smoothly and successfully in all pilot partners, FTM will lead the training of all the piloting organisations’ personnel covering various aspects, such as their familiarisation with the tools of the project along with the guidelines for distributing, collecting and transcribing questionnaires for the visitors. The partner is involved in these work packages: WP1, WP2, WP4, WP5, WP6 and WP7.

NOVA University of Lisbon (NOVA) is one of the two public Universities located in Lisbon and it is the best ranked Portuguese university in QS Ranking 50 under 50 (41th). The university includes, besides the Rectorat, 1 School of Public Health, 3 Institutes and 5 Faculties, including NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities (NOVA FCSH) that participates in VAST project.

NOVA FCSH is the largest Portuguese Higher Education and Research institution in the fields of Social Sciences and Humanities, covering such areas as Communication and Language Sciences, Artistic and Literary Studies, Philosophy, History and Archaeology, Anthropology, Demography, Geography and Sociology, Political Studies and International Relations, and intersections between these disciplines.
NOVA FCSH develops cutting-edge research in different scientific areas in its 16 R&D Units, 14 of them are financed by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia). The ever-growing academic community at the NOVA FCSH counts over 2.000 national and international researchers integrated and/or associated to a Research Unit, as well as many other co-researchers, students and research grant holders. The Institute for the Study of Literature and Tradition (IELT) is the research unit that is active in the VAST project and is a multi-faceted centre that welcomes scholars from various fields, including literature, art, music, sociology, anthropology, medicine, biology, history of science, etc. Members share interests in the potential of literature for multidisciplinary reflections on cultural identities in constant re-evaluation.

More specifically, in the VAST project, NOVA FCSH participates as a partner with Dr Sara Graça da Silva as the lead person. NOVA’s team leads WP2: RESEARCH: Researching values across time and space, and especially Pilot 3: Values in European Folktales. This pilot seeks to analyse emotional and moral expressions conveyed in a number of selected tales by the Grimms brothers. Employing a cross-cultural perspective involving the participating countries in the project, it will look at how these values and moral judgments have been both received and adapted.

Folktales’ enduring appeal is intrinsically linked to the power of storytelling from time immemorial. Their motifs are timeless and fairly universal, comprising dichotomies such as good/evil, right/wrong, punishment/reward, moral/immoral etc. Narratives have many roles in our lives, reflecting broader cultural identities across time and place. Considering the heredity of memory, tales are a privileged means for the transmission of shared, core values that drive our behaviour.

Besides the theoretical research and analysis of textual evidence of the works regarding the values they convey from a multi-disciplinary perspective, there will also be a strong experimental approach to NOVA’s investigation. Through the use of biophysical methods (biosensors and eye tracking), we will explore emotional and moral reactions from participants to both familiar and unfamiliar stories using a variety of stimuli, including textual excerpts (both Grimms’ and adapted versions), illustrations and videos from films/plays.

Despite being often disregarded as simply fictional and even as a lesser form of literature, the extraordinary variability of tales makes them ideal case studies for cross-cultural comparisons on social values and dynamics, including cooperation, competition, or decision making. Albeit fictitious, folktales are important simulations of reality. The impact of such discernment goes beyond academia and can contribute to a greater sense of societal wellbeing.

Museo Galileo (IMSS), situated in the heart of Florence, Italy, is one of the leading international institutions in the History of Science. Founded in 1927, the museum is heir to a five century-long tradition of scientific collecting, started by the Medici and carried on by the Lorraine families. It preserves more than 5.000 items dated mostly from 15th to 19th century, about 1.000 of which are on permanent exhibit in the 18 rooms currently open to the public. The premises also host a specialised library that houses about 170.000 works concerning the history of science. The antique book collection, consisting of nearly 5.000 works, is supplemented by several 19th – 20th century editions as well as a contemporary collection, which has an annual growth of hundreds of new acquisitions. About 6.000 works of historical scientific interest, most of them rare and hard to find, have been published on the museum’s Digital Library. Museo Galileo has participated in several FP5, FP6, FP7, H2020 and Erasmus+ projects and contributed to Europeana and Google Cultural Institute portal.

In VAST project, Dr Marco Berni is the leading person responsible for the WP4 Co-Create & Digitise: Continuous co-creation to provide cultural, socio-historical and experiential context. Among the IMSS team’s tasks, the museum will implement educational activities as part of the VAST pilot named Values in 17th century books of natural philosophy and utopian thought. The scope is to trace if the past’s values, inherent in the scientific instruments and texts, still exist nowadays and make comparisons with reference to the popular existing image of science. Public views on these values and their meaning’s evolution will be aggregated and digitised through different monitoring processes. Remote learning activities and in-person visits will benefit from engaging multimedia resources, model reconstruction kits and captivating activities carried out by personnel in costume. In particular, Museo Galileo’s work will focus on the early modern idea of the discovery of new lands and new earths in the sky, the 17th century lunar travels and utopian thought, as well as the emergence of the concept of tolerance and equality in scientific writings, based on three main sources: scientific instruments preserved in the permanent exhibition, texts, and visual materials (i.e. engravings, maps, paintings).