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Samos, Paros, Delos, Santorini, Athens, Crete, Greece, Turkey

Program Description

May 20-24 on-campus at JMU

June 1-27 overseas

We invite you to join us in an exploration of the world of the Ancient Greeks. Our program will consist of two main parts: half will be devoted to providing a broad overview of Ancient Greek philosophy and history, and half will focus on Ancient Greek mathematics. No background in any of these fields is necessary. All that’s required is your own intellectual curiosity about the Ancient World, as well as a desire to visit many of sites we’ll be discussing.

In addition to the time spent on the courses-—classroom lectures and discussions, as well as group activities and site visits-—we’ve also structured the program to allow you the freedom to explore on your own during our non-class periods. Though you will be spending some of this time reading and preparing for the classroom activities, there will also be opportunities for interacting with the locals, hiking, or simply relaxing on the beach. As you’ll find, Greece has plenty to offer.

Now for a bit more on the academic side of the program. Each student will receive credit for two 3-credit courses: MATH 103 (The Mathematics of Euclid), and PHIL 240 (Greek Philosophy in Context). It may be possible to have one or both classes count towards requirements in other majors or programs (Classics, General Education, or the B.A. Philosophy requirement, for instance), but you’ll need to clear that with us first.

Professor Bolyard will cover the beginnings of philosophy and history of the Ancient world, and we’ll focus on some of the enduring questions of philosophy: What is real, and what is illusion? What is the proper goal of a good life? To what extent do we owe things to our country? In addition, we’ll read Hesiod and excerpts from some of the earliest historians, Herodotus and Thucydides.

Professor Thelwell will help you learn math as the Greeks did - on the shores of the Mediterranean, involved in open discussion and discourse. Modern mathematics was born in Greece. The writing of Euclid, cataloguing the tremendous contributions of the Pythagorean school, will serve as the foundation for the course. The treatment is visual - and the topics will include geometry, algebra, and basic number theory. Bring a compass and ruler, and learn as you explore the country and its culture!

Instructional methods include lectures, guided tours, journal assignments and/or papers, and exams. Students will enroll in both classes for a total of 6 credit hours. Students should be in relatively good physical shape, since we will be visiting many ancient sites that require walking on uneven ground up steep hills. Students should also be able to swim.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. We’d be excited to tell you more about our program!

Location Description

We will begin by meeting on-campus at JMU for half-days during the week before we leave for Greece. This will allow us to get started on the courses and learn about ancient and modern Greece from some of our on-campus experts in Greek history, art, and religion.

After this, the overseas portion of the course will take place. We’ll begin on the Aegean island of Samos, where we’ll stay for 6 days. After exploring some of the ancient Greek settlements there and in southwest Turkey, we’ll move to the centrally located island of Paros for 6 more days. If our schedule permits, we’ll visit such important islands as Delos—one of the main religious centers of the ancient world—and we’ll also take a day-long sailing trip (with swimming and snorkeling opportunities) to some of the smaller islands nearby. After this, we’ll take a ferry to the beautiful volcanic island of Santorini, where we’ll explore the ancient city of Akrotiri (covered by volcanic ash until rediscovered recently) and the hilltop settlement of Ancient Thira. There, we'll take another sailing/snorkeling trip to visit some of the less accessible parts of the island. We’ll be in Santorini for 5 days. Next, we'll head to Crete, the southernmost of the Greek islands, where we'll visit the Minoan palace of Knossos. We'll be in Crete for 4 days.

After our 21 days in the islands, we’ll close out the course with 5 days on the Greek mainland. Much of our time will be spent in Athens. We’ll visit the Acropolis, of course, but we’ll also visit world-class museums, and walk the same streets that Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle did over 2,000 years ago.


Chip Bolyard | | Philosophy & Religion

Roger Thelwell | | Mathematics & Statistics


We will be housed in hotels—they usually have balconies and water views on the islands—with two or three students to a room. They will be within walking distance to public transportation, restaurants, and shops.

Your program fee will cover all of your food (provided you don’t have a propensity for fancy restaurants, that is!). We will be provided light buffet breakfasts at the hotels for all days, we will have occasional group dinners or lunches, and you will receive a stipend every 5 days or so for the remaining meals, which you will handle on your own.

Additional Items to Consider

Students will need a visa for the one-day trip to Turkey, but the tour provider will handle those details. Also, please be aware that since this program involves a fair degree of walking on broken ground and up steep hills, you should be in decent physical shape. Students should also know how to swim.

Students with internationally-capable cell phones will find service nearly everywhere (the professors will have phones for emergencies as well), and internet access will be available in most of the places we will be staying, though it can be spotty at times. There are also internet cafes in the towns and cities.

All transportation (island-to-island and island-to-mainland, as well as for all group activities) will be covered by the program fee from the time students first arrive in Samos, until they depart from Athens.

Tentative dates: May 20 - May 24, 2019 on campus at JMU, and overseas from June 1 - June 27, 2019. We’ll begin the overseas portion on the island of Samos on June 1. The program will end on June 27 in Athens.

Link to FAQ

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to all majors and class levels.

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($25 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 

apply now

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


MATH 103: The Nature of Mathematics: The Mathematics of Euclid (3 credits)

PHIL 240: Greek Philosophy in Context (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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