LA&PS history students experience modern and ancient Greece  

Athens, Greece. Odeon of Herodes Atticus

For many, an experiential education course has become a part of the York University experience.  

Since 2019, a group of intrepid applicants have experienced Greece through the lens of the summer course HIST 3375 – Greece: A Modern History led by Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Associate Professor Sakis Gekas where historical walks and archives, visits to museums and research centres offer a unique international experience for the students who participate in the course.  

Students pictured with the LA&PS flag in Athens. Photo credit: history student Christina Coutsougeras

Similar to previous years’ experience, this year, students began the course by engaging in two weeks of intensive reading and discussions of key events in Greek history before they departed for the Mediterranean. Participants are currently immersed in their month-long stay in Athens.  

The course takes a blended approach offering both in-class sessions with on-site teaching to provide a robust and in-depth understanding of major developments in the social, cultural, economic and political history of Greece since 1800. 

The course starts by exploring the history of Ottoman and Venetian areas that formed the Greek State and includes themes such as the Revolution of 1821, economic and social change in the 19th century; Greece in the Balkans; the First World War and the interwar period; war and occupation in the 1940s; emigration and the Greek Diaspora; the 1967-74 dictatorship and the post-1980s period of European integration, to the present and recent crises and challenges. 

Eleven students have joined Gekas for a hands-on experience, immersed in the culture and history they are studying. History student Keida McMurtry-Shuebrook describes her experience thus far as, “one of the most influential and formative experiences of my life.”  

All course participants of 2022 will spend much of their time in Athens. The course also brings opportunities to hear from guest speakers and listen to lectures from other experts on the islands of Hyrda and the city of Nafplio. 

HIST 3375 students explore the city of Athens. Photo credit: history student Natella Isakharova

The students also attended a summer school on environmental, Mediterranean, and global histories from the 18th to 20th century taught by guest lecturers at the Institute of Historical Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, director Maria Christina Chatziioannou and postdoctoral researcher Giorgos Vlachos, while spending three days on Syros Island. 

History student Isabelle Blake says, “the opportunity to travel to the cities, while also learning through this course about their history, has made me feel connected to these places in such a short amount of time.” 

The students studied in Toronto from May 9 to 19 and departed on May 30 for Athens. They will remain in Greece until June 26. This course is scheduled to run every summer and is open to all undergraduate student in good academic standing with preference given to history students.  

To learn more about the summer abroad course, visit the LA&PS website.