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JMU in Ancient Greece


Samos, Paros, Delos, Santorini, Athens, Mycenae, Delphi, Greece, Turkey

Program Description

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 more specific Ancient Greek philosophical puzzles and paradoxes. 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: PHIL 101 (Introduction to Philosophy:  Ancient Greek Puzzles and Paradoxes), 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 Goodman’s course will be a topical introduction to the study of philosophy, and the topics we’ll discuss will all center around, or at least be directly traceable back to, some puzzles and paradoxes first formulated by some ancient Greek thinkers.  Is motion possible?  Zeno’s Paradox suggests it isn’t!  Must every statement be either true or false?  Aristotle thought so, but the Liar Paradox suggests that cannot be!  There cannot be two separate objects occupying the same space at the same time, right?  Chrysippus' Puzzle seems to show otherwise!  We’ll not only be thinking about what the Ancients had to say about interesting questions such as these concerning the nature of reality, knowledge, and how language works, but how certain contemporary philosophers go about trying to resolve these issues.

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!


Join us for an Information Session on Thursday, October 26 from 4:30-6:00 PM (drop in anytime) in Cleveland Hall 113. 

Location Description

We will begin by meeting on-campus at JMU for half-days during the week immediately following Spring graduation. 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 do some snorkeling with an underwater archaeologist and 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 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. We’ll be in Santorini for 5 days.
After our 17 days in the islands, we’ll close out the course with a week 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.  In addition, we’ll visit other mainland sites such as Mycenae (the home of Agamemnon, commander of Greek forces during the Trojan War), the religious center of Delphi, and other sites of interest. 


Chip Bolyard | | Philosophy & Religion

Jeffrey Goodman | | Philosophy & Religion


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 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.

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.

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. 

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


PHIL 101: Introduction to Philosophy: Ancient Greek Puzzles and Paradoxes (3 credits)

PHIL 240: Greek Philosophy in Context (3 credits)

PHIL 390: Ancient Greek Puzzles and Paradoxes (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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