Course Description

In a time in which people often do not know which media sources to believe, how do we get to the heart of an issue? How do we try to truly understand it? How do we reconcile conflicting points of view? This Field Academy course takes students to Greece as a case study in understanding multiple perspectives on complex contemporary issues. Greece, the birthplace of Western civilization and ancestor to some of the world’s most enduring beliefs and practices, has recently experienced economic, political, and environmental challenges that the country struggles to address. In this course, students use journalistic techniques to explore these and other historical issues through multiple lenses, producing journalistic pieces that communicate their findings. Students begin in Athens, where they are embedded with a local journalist who helps teach them how to conceptualize a framework and to ask questions in an effort to find the truth(s) about their topics. Highlighted contemporary issues include the current state of the Greek economy and the impact of refugees on the country. Additionally, students identify issues that they themselves are interested in, for instance, Greece’s position in the European Union, the role of tourism in Greek economy and society, Greek geography and ecology, or the legacy of Classical Greek culture and society. Students interview different guest speakers and Greek citizens to understand how they view these issues, documenting interviews for use in the production of journalistic pieces. Each student produces several written pieces with accompanying visuals, contributing to a culminating newspaper that collects student work. Throughout the course, students engage in readings, discussion, and instruction about best journalistic practices and the rapid evolution of journalism in our time. The course also includes pre-departure preparation through the study of Classical Greece and the birth of democracy and, once in the country, excursions and additional readings that deepen their understanding of Greek history. Excursions include visits to the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, and Olympia. Additionally, students travel from mainland Greece to nearby islands, where they learn about life in Crete by visiting museums and marinas and spending time in a Cretan village and learn about the volcanic environment of Santorini via walking and boat tours. Throughout the trip, students dine at local restaurants and experience the amazing beauty, history, and culture of Greece, while documenting and synthesizing the residents’ various perspectives on contemporary Greek society and culture, its historical roots, and the nature of journalistic and historical truth(s).


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