Athens is the cultural, industrial and political center of modern Greece. Ancient Athens is considered by many to be the fountainhead of Western civilization. The heart of the city, both ancient and modern, is the world-famous Acropolis. Nearby is the Agora, the ancient civic center and marketplace with its temple of Hephaistos and other important monuments. Also close to the Acropolis, and within walking distance of the Athens Centre, is the Plaka, the old quarter of the modern city. There, amidst Byzantine churches and early modern historical buildings are other monuments of the ancient city, like the Library of the Roman Emperor, Hadrian. Also not far from the Athens Centre are the National Gardens, the Parliament House, and the Panathenaikon Stadium, which was built in 330 BC for the Greater Panathenaic Festival and rebuilt centuries later to accommodate the first modern Olympic Games, held in 1896. Lycabettus Hill, with St. George's chapel at its summit, offers one of the best views of this wonderful city. The many museums, monuments, and scenic viewpoints in present-day Athens evoke memories of the masters of art and architecture, philosophy and drama who once walked its streets and who have made such important contributions to Western civilization.
The Athens Centre, located near the Acropolis and other major archaeological sites of the city, is headquarters for the Penn State Athens program. Founded in 1969 as the Athens Centre for Creative Arts, this Greek non-profit organization sponsors academic and cultural activities. It schedules programs for Athens residents throughout the year in the fields of Greek Studies, fine arts and performing arts, and since 1977 has offered courses in Modern Greek language to foreigners living and working in Athens. In addition to its work with Penn State, the Centre cooperates with several other US colleges and universities. For more information about this program, please visit the Athens Centre website.
Bucknell and Penn State Universities collaborate to offer this 90 day interdisciplinary program and alternate faculty. In 2015, Dr. Stephanie Larson, from Bucknell will be the faculty leader and will teach two of the courses. All other courses will be taught in English by faculty and experts in Athens. Penn State students who successfully complete the Athens program and its prerequisites may be eligible to receive a minor in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies (CAMS). The final field trip schedule for 2015 is to be determined but tentatively includes a variety of visits to sites and museums in Athens, Argolid, Delphi, Peloponnese, and an extended visit to Crete.
To view a list of other programs available in this region, visit our Education Abroad Regional Brochures.
Spring 2015 Course Offerings
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Spring 2016 Scheduled Course Offerings
GREEK 099: Modern Greek Language and Culture (3 credits) Athens Centre Staff
An intensive introduction to spoken modern Greek designed to enable students to use the language in their daily contact with the Greek people.
HIST or CAMS 399: Roman and Byzantine Greece (3 credits) Dr. John Karavas (Athens Centre):
A survey of medieval Greece from the collapse of the western Roman Empire, through the rise of the Byzantine Empire, to the Ottoman conquest of the 15th century. Includes field trips.
ART HIST or CAMS or HIST 499: Archaeology of Ancient Greece (3 credits) Dr. Steven Diamant (Athens Centre)
A survey of the major historical monuments and sites, from the prehistoric period to Classical times. Includes field trips.
CAMS 499: Athenian and Theban Traditions in Greek Myth and Tragedy (3 credits) Dr. Stephanie Larson (Bucknell University)
In this seminar we will concentrate on Athenian and Theban legends in Greek mythology and tragedy. We will begin by considering panhellenic myths, such as Hesiod’s Theogony and selections from the Iliad and Odyssey. We’ll then consider specific local traditions of Athens, as seen particularly in tragedy. We’ll start with Aeschylus’ Persians, an Athenian drama that puts the famous Persian leaders Xerxes and Darius on the Athenian stage. We’ll also explore Aeschylus’ Oresteia, the only surviving trilogy of Greek plays from antiquity that celebrates the rise of Athens as a democracy through the retelling of the famous myth of Agamemnon’s return from the Trojan War. With these Athenian plays in our minds, we’ll then turn to four plays about Theban traditions and heroes: Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes, and Sophocles’ Antigone, Oedipous Rex, and Oedipous at Colonus. We’ll think about the structure of the plays, what they can reveal about Theban and Athenian legend, and also what their seemingly eternal questions might be asking about Athens and Thebes as city-states. Out of seminar, we will visit the Athenian locations important to the drama and production of the plays, including the Areopagus, the Pnyx, the Agora and its museum, and the Theater of Dionysus.
CAMS 499: Herodotus and His World (3 credits) Dr. Stephanie Larson (Bucknell University)
Herodotus is considered the “father” of history. In this course we will consider what makes him so and what kinds of cultural forces were operating in his world during the fifth-century BCE in the eastern Mediterranean. We will focus on selections from Herodotus’ Histories, such as the famous stories of Kandaules, Solon, Croesus, Cyrus, and of course, the Persian kings Xerxes and Darius. We’ll think about the Persian wars in Athenian tradition and compare Herodotus’ portrayal of Xerxes and Darius with those we find in Aeschylus’ Persians. We will consider Herodotus’ open-mindedness in his reporting of foreign cultural traditions and peoples. We will also think about what Herodotus says of himself as a historian and how he goes about researching his investigations into the past. In this seminar we will also study some of the cultural movements and monuments of Herodotus’ age, such as the sophistic movement and the construction of one of the most fascinating buildings of antiquity: the Parthenon. To this end we will both investigate the myriad themes of Plato’s Symposium and also make a number of visits to the Acropolis Museum in Athens, where we will consider the artistic program of the building and the possible reasons for it, as well as the building’s physical location on the Acropolis itself.
Visit the Program Particulars section of the Athens Program website for further details regarding the program.
Students may not fulfill GHA (General Health and Activity) general education requirements abroad.
Successful applicants will satisfy the pre-requisites established by the program leader.
Housing and Meals
Housing in Athens is coordinated by the Athens Centre staff. You will live in a private apartment a few blocks from classroom facilities, in the residential neighborhood of Pangrati, about a mile from the center of the city and from the Acropolis. You will be responsible for providing your own meals. While on field trips, you will be housed near the trip sites.
For more information on program costs, please be sure to review the budget sheets for the Spring semester. These budget sheets include information on costs that are billable to the bursar bill, as well as estimated additional costs. Costs vary by program, so it is important to review this information carefully.
Please note that tuition rates may vary depending on major and class standing.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
Penn State students studying through Education Abroad can use most components of their existing financial aid packages toward the cost of study abroad. This may include federal and state grants, VA educational benefits, federal student loans, and University scholarships and grants. Notable exceptions include work-study awards and some athletic scholarships.
The University Office of Global Programs also administers a number of grants and scholarships. Eligibility is based on academic excellence and/or financial need. There is also funding available for study abroad programs in diverse locations and for students from diverse backgrounds. In most cases, applicants should have a current year FAFSA on file with the Office of Student Aid. Funding opportunities may also be available through Penn State academic departments. For detailed information on financial aid and scholarship opportunities and application procedures, please visit the Funding Study Abroad section of the Global Penn State website.
Students accepted to this program who are majoring or minoring in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies are eligible to apply to the Department of CAMS for travel subventions. Contact the Head of the Department of CAMS.
For more information about this program and education abroad at Penn State, we encourage you to meet with or contact our Peer Advisers. These study abroad returnees can explain program options, give an overview of the education abroad process, as well as provide information about his/her program. If you are not at University Park, contact your Campus Global Representative.
To learn more about the specifics of each program, schedule an appointment with the education abroad adviser for this program.
For the inside scoop on life in a foreign country, be sure to check out the GeoBlogs of Penn State students currently studying abroad.
How to Apply
If you would like to participate on this study abroad program, you will need to apply to Penn State Education Abroad by clicking the "Apply Now" button on this page. You must complete the following materials in your application:
Visit the How to Apply section of our website for more information.
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