University of California, Riverside

UCR Study Abroad - UCR Summer Abroad Program

2015 Athens, Greece

The Big Olive: History and Culture of Classical Athens


Explore ancient history and classics with a Mediterranean backdrop. Stay in the Athens Centre and travel through Greece while receiving upper division history credit with dynamic UCR Professor Denver Graninger.

  • General Program Information

    This travel study program offers an in-depth introduction to the history and culture of one of the most influential cities of Mediterranean antiquity at the peak of its intellectual, economic, and military powers: Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. The program balances lectures and readings in primary sources with visits to important archaeological sites and museums in Athens and Attica and neighboring regions (e.g., Epidauros, Aigina, Delphi). While the program focuses on antiquity, Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern period sites and museums will also be visited in order to offer a fuller picture of Athenian and Greek history.

    Modern Greece, and especially the city of Athens, with its world class archaeological collections and sites, offers the ideal opportunity for students to encounter the physical monuments of Greek antiquity and to integrate those experiences within a broader study of ancient Greek history and culture.  The location of Athens offers easy and convenient access to important sites and museums in central and southern Greece.  

    Two courses will be offered:  Two courses will be offered: HIST 190: The Athenian Empire; and HIST 191Z: City of Socrates. Both will satisfy the additional humanities GE requirement.  Neither course has a prerequisite. Both will also satisfy the upper-division requirement for History majors.

    Denver Graninger, History

    Host Institution:
    Athens Center

    HISE 191Z City of Socrates
    HIST 190 The Athenian Empire


  • Accommodations in Greece

    Athens Centre is an educational organization founded in 1969 to sponsor academic and cultural activities in Greece.

    The Centre is located in Mets, a residential area of central Athens, about 15 minutes walk from the heart of the city at Syntagma (Constitution) Square. Mets is well-served by public transportation by bus, metro, tram and trolley from many areas of Athens, and is perhaps the greenest area of the city, with parks nearby including the Zappeio and National Gardens, Pangrati Park, and the woods around the old Olympic Stadium where the first modern Olympics were held.

    The Centre is affiliated with more than 20 American colleges and universities in offering diverse programs, including Semesters in Greece, summer arts programs, January terms, Maymesters, and other longer and shorter sessions throughout the year. These university programs have traditionally emphasized Classical, Byzantine and modern Greek history and civilization. Without neglecting this heritage, the Centre also cooperates with departments as diverse as mathematics, geology, health care, and psychology, amongst others, to bring students to Greece on programs which look into the history of their discipline in ancient and modern Greece.

    The AC will be the main hub for the program with morning seminars/classes held at the center's classrooms, by providing lodging accommodations, wireless internet, and additional logistical support for excursions.  

    Students will be housed in air-conditioned studio apartments for 2-3 people, located at a comfortable 5 minute walk from the Athens Centre.  All studio apartments have wifi, and are within walking distance of Athens sites and museums.  In Athens, student apartments have basic kitchen appliances; there are plentiful local grocers and weekly markets, as well as numerous cafes and tavernas nearby.  While on the road, breakfast is offered at each hotel; students may purchase supplies for the next day's lunch on the night before, and there will be extensive dinner options in each town visited.

  • Detailed Program Fees

    Please note that Program-Related Fees will be paid to UCR (see payment instructions). Airfare and most meals are included in the "Estimated Additional Costs" in the bottom half of the table.

    Program Fees

    Program-Related FeesUndergraduates Graduates 
    Non-refundable application fee/deposit $300.00 $300.00
    2nd Deposit $700.00 $700.00
    Course fees – 8 units $2,402.54* $2,902.08*
    Remaining Program Fees – Accommodations, transportation, excursions TBD TBD
    *Fees subject to Regental action
    Estimated Additional CostsUndergraduates Graduates 
    Estimated Meal and Personal Costs $1,000 Same as undergraduate
    Estimated Pre-Departure Expenses (Photos, Passports, Books, etc.) $300 Same as undergraduate
    Estimated Round-Trip Airfare $1,600 Same as undergraduate

  • Courses & Syllabus


    HISE 191Z City of Socrates
    HIST 190 The Athenian Empire

    Seminar in History: City of Socrates
    (4 units)  HIST 191Z

    This course explores key features of urban life in ancient Athens, with special emphasis on the fifth and fourth centuries BCE. Key questions to be explored include: the development and maintenance of essential urban infrastructure; the practice of radical democracy; the role of public spectacle; systems of local and regional defense; art; ‘schools’ and rhetorical training; and family and domestic life. The course balances readings in ancient sources and modern scholarship with visits to archaeological sites and museums, including: National Archaeological Museum, Kerameikos, Academy and Lyceum, and the Theater of Dionysus, among many others.

    Course Readings (Select):

    • J. W. Roberts, City of Sokrates: An Introduction to Classical Athens
    • D. Kamen, Status in Classical Athens
    • Selections from Aristophanes, Plato, et al.

    Special Studies: The Athenian Empire
    (4 units)  HIST 190

    The course explores Athenian history ca. 479-404 BCE, when the city developed a tributary,
    maritime empire that ranked it among the most powerful polities in the eastern Mediterranean
    world. Key questions to be explored include: dynastic antecedents for this empire; the mechanics
    of empire; the impact of this empire on the ancient landscape of Athens and the practice of
    Athenian democracy; internal and external challenges to imperial rule; and the role of the empire
    in later Athenian and Greek memory. The course balances readings in ancient sources and
    modern scholarship with visits to archaeological sites and museums significant for the study of
    the Athenian empire, including: the Athenian acropolis and agora, Epidaurus, and Delphi, among
    many others.        

    Course Readings (Select):

    • R. Meiggs, The Athenian Empire
    • Selections from Thucydides, Athenian inscriptions, et al.

    Learning Objectives

    1. To acquire and master basic narratives of Classical Greek social and political history, with an emphasis on Athens.

    2. To determine the strengths and weaknesses of different types of ancient sources, both literary and material; to use the full range of available sources to develop a deeper understanding of ancient Greek history.

    3. To make thoughtful and informed contributions to long-standing debates about key problems in ancient Greek history.

    4. To develop an appreciation for Greek culture throughout its many historical phases, not limited to antiquity, but including Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern.       

    Student Responsibilities and Assessment

    1.  Participation, 30%: Students are expected to be present, on-time, and prepared for each lecture, discussion, and site visit in the program.

    2.  Quizzes, 10%: There will be two short map quizzes covering major sites and regions visited during the course.

    3.  Presentations, 10%: Students will be required to make two, ten-minute presentations on site during the program: one will focus on a religious topic, the other on a historical topic; one will be delivered in the Athens/Attica section of the course, the other during one of the two longer trips.  Report topics will be selected in advance of departure from the US and in consultation with the instructor; students will be expected to summarize and critique a short, important scholarly article on an aspect of a site or monument on the program's itinerary.

    4.  Portfolios, 30%: Students are expected to engage actively with the ideas, sites, and monuments encountered in this course.  They are required to keep a portfolio in which they will make daily entries consisting of: (1) detailed notes from each lecture and site visit; (2) reflections on, responses to, and questions about material encountered in readings, lectures, and especially, on site; and (3) at least one detailed drawing from each site.  Portfolio entries will be evaluated on their thoughtfulness and thoroughness; organization and neatness are crucial.  Portfolios will be evaluated on a regular basis throughout the program.

    5.  Final Paper, 20%:  Each student will meet with the instructor and TA during the last week of the program to discuss his/her portfolios and presentations and to develop a topic for a 2000-word paper based on some aspect of  their experience during the program in Greece; this need not be a research paper, but will require the student to use literary and material evidence in tandem to reflect on a problem in Archaic Greek history or the history of Greek religion encountered during the course. The paper will be written after returning to the US an submitted to the instructor before the beginning of fall semester.

  • Tentative Program Itinerary

    Day 0 - Friday, June 26th
    Arrival in Athens; welcome dinner; orientation

    Day 1

    Day 2

    Day 3
    Acropolis: Site and Museum

    Day 4
    Acropolis: Site and Museum

    Day 5
    Acropolis South and North Slopes, Areopagos 

    Day 6
    Depart Athens; Visti Delphi: site and museum; return to Athens

    Day 7
    Visit to Parliament

    Day 8

    Day 9

    Day 10
    Agora: Site and Museum

    Day 11
    Pnyx, Agora: Site

    Day 12
    Kermeikos: Site and Museum; Academy

    Day 13 
    Depart Athens; visit Myenae, lunch in Nauplion, visit Epidaurus, return to Athens

    Day 14
    Walking tour of art galleries and cultural organizations in Athens

    Day 15

    Day 16

    Day 17
    Lyceum, Olympieion; Date Activity

    Day 18
    Peiraios: Eetonia, shipsheds, archaeological museum, naval museum

    Day 19
    National Archaeological Museum; Epigraphic Museum

    Day 20

    Day 21
    Visit to new Benaki Museum

    Day 22

    Day 23

    Day 24
    Pentele, Marathon

    Day 25
    Jewish Museum; Museum of Islamic Art

    Day 26
    Brauron, Thorikos, Sounion

    Day 27
    Walking tour of Roman and Byzantine Athens; City of Athens museum

    Day 28
    Walking tour of Ottoman and modern Athens; Benaki Museum

    Day 29
    Depart Athens

  • Planned Experiences On-site

    The on-site component of the program involves regular visits to museums and archaeological sites of importance both for the two courses in the program and also for understanding Greece and Greek history and culture in the longue durée. In addition to formal, classroom-style lectures on key themes in the two courses, which will be offered at the Athens Centre, when the program is based in Athens, and in hotel conference rooms, etc., when the program is on the road, planned on-site experiences include: (1) site reports and 'flash lectures' offered by Dr. Graninger and local specialists on key monuments and artifacts at major archaeological sites and museums. Such contributions will be focused on keeping students oriented within 'the big picture', e.g., where we are in time and space, what are the key problems posed by a given site/monument, etc.; (2) weekly/twice weekly 'discussion sections' led by the TA at historical and archaeological sites visited by the program and focused on the relationship between ancient literary sources for a given site/event (to be distributed and read in advance by students) and the material record at hand; (3) short, oral reports by students on site that summarize and critique an accessible, scholarly article on some aspect of a particular site or museum (the article will be selected in advance and in consultation with Dr. Graninger according to the student's expressed interests), e.g., techniques of divination at Delphi, Athenian commemoration of the victory at Marathon, etc.; (4) direct, physical engagement with ancient sites can dramatically enrich a student's intellectual engagement with ancient history. And so, for example, we will race in the ancient stadium at Olympia as we think about the panhellenic significance of the festival in antiquity; and we will make the (not too strenuous) hike to the Corycean cave above Delphi where locals fled during the Persian Wars as we contemplate the impact of the Persian invasions on rural Greece; (5) students will be given free time for personal exploration and reflection at each site/museum, which they will document in their journals; (6) students will receive six hours of coursework in introductory modern Greek language, which will help them begin to interact with Greek culture beyond the comparatively narrow confines of the program.

    While on the road, breakfast will be offered at each hotel; students may purchase supplies for the next day's lunch on the night before, and there will be extensive dinner options in each town where we stay.

  • Faculty Letter

    Dear Prospective Student:

    I invite you to join the UCR Summer Study Abroad 2015 program in Greece: The Big Olive: History and Culture of Classical Athens!

    The program’s partner institution in Greece is the Athens Centre, a world-renowned institute for education in modern Greek language and culture. While the program is based in Athens, program participants will live in double or triple apartments (with kitchen and wifi) within walking distance of the Athens Centre, located in the dynamic Mets area of central Athens. With dramatic views of Athens’ ancient past awaiting you around every street corner, your mind may begin to see the city as Themistocles or Aspasia once did.  

    We will typically meet for lectures in the morning at the Athens Centre and spend afternoons visiting important monuments and museums in the city, such as the new Acropolis museum and the Athenian Agora. We will also make day-long excursions to important sites in the immediate vicinity of Athens, like Marathon, Delphi, and Aigina, each of which presents distinct perspectives on the key themes of the program (and wonderful opportunities for swimming).

    There are no prerequisites for the two courses on offer, nor will any special knowledge about the ancient Greek world be assumed. Students majoring in any field are welcome. My hope is that all program participants will come to a deeper understanding of the political and religious history of the ancient Greek world, while developing an appreciation of Greek culture throughout its many historical phases, including Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern.

    If you have any questions about any aspect of this program, big or small, please do not hesitate to contact me by email ( or phone (951-204-4409).

    I have lived as a student and worked as faculty for several years in Athens and travelled extensively throughout Greece with students and for research. Greece is a home away from home for me, and I look forward to sharing with you my enthusiasm for the country and all aspects of its diverse history and culture. While Greece has experienced some economic difficulties of late, it remains, with unbowed spirit, a wonderful destination for study and travel. There is no place that I would rather be; I hope that you will join UCR in Greece this summer!


    Denver Graninger

  • Pre-departure Orientation



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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Contact Information

Education Abroad
0321 Surge Building

Tel: (951) 827-4113