The Demos Center

The Demos Center – A Summer Study Abroad Program

Strengthening democracy through active citizenship.

The Demos Center is coming this summer 2023 and is a unit of The Institute for Hellenic Culture and the Liberal Arts.  

For information about The Demos Center or The Institute, contact the Director of The Demos Center, Dr. Mary Cardaras @ [email protected].

What better place to study democracy, citizenship, and civic engagement than in Athens, the city where democracy was born?

What does it mean to be a citizen? What does it mean to act on it? The Demos Center Project is a six-week, credit-bearing, experiential learning summer study abroad program which addresses these questions. With the motto “Devote your life to making progress”, it is directed to university students who are interested in studying the intersectionality of democracy, public policy, free press, rhetoric, and leadership. Students will study, live, and immerse themselves in the rich, colorful Greek culture that gave the world an organized system of governance. Based on the beautiful campus of Deree — The American College of Greece, students will study and debate the failures, intentions, and successes of governments throughout the world.

“Citizenship must extend far beyond just casting a vote.”

— Mary Cardaras, Director, The Demos Center 

Inspiring students, promoting civic engagement, and cultivating democratic values

Through its curriculum, faculty, teaching, experiential and applied learning, the Demos Center will inspire students to further engage in their communities at home, become involved citizens, and have the knowledge and skills to impose real, lasting change. The Center will expose students to expert faculty, influential leaders and thinkers in these areas: (1) Democracy, Government and Public Policy, (2) Journalism and the Media, and (3) Leadership and Rhetoric. Students will take part in special lectures, seminars, symposia, tours of Athens and other historic parts of Greece. In the place where democracy itself was born, will be inspired as they live, learn and travel in one of the most consequential cities and regions in the history of the civilized world.

The program is open to all university students who come from a variety of academic disciplines as well as those studying History, Political Science, Sociology, Public Policy, International Affairs, Anthropology, Journalism, Documentary Film, Media Production, Photojournalism, Art as Activism. 

The Demos Center will foster the next generation of thoughtful, deeper thinkers, and compassionate leaders in government, policymaking, journalism, documentary film production, and in art as activism. Students from vastly diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, races, cultures, and religions are invited to listen to each other, grow together, learn to understand each other’s perspectives and, in all hope, to make friendships that will last a lifetime.


Welcome to Athens, the historical capital of Europe and the birthplace of democracy, arts, science, and philosophy of western civilization! Home of Plato, Socrates, Pericles, Euripides, Sophocles, and Sappho, Athens is one of the world’s oldest cities and its influence is still felt throughout the world. Athens is frequently known as the “birthplace” of democracy, drama, philosophy and civic engagement — ideals which have formed the cornerstones of all modern democracies. 

Today, Athens is not only the capital of Greece but one of the most important cities in modern Europe. An important center for world business, finance, shipping, trade, education, art, and tourism. What makes Athens such a fascinating laboratory for learning is the combination of diverse cultures in the same city. With almost 4 million people, Athens offers almost everything imaginable: museums, magnificent churches, concerts, street art, ancient ruins, incredible food and nightlife, and “philoxenia” (the Greek word for hospitality and generosity to those who are far from home).

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Students will have the opportunity to participate in The Oracle Challenge and represent the Demos Center and Deree at the prestigious Athens Democracy Forum in the Fall. Student teams will work with an advisor on their multimedia Oracle Challenge projects and make presentations to the Deree community at a final farewell dinner and awards ceremony. Students from the winning Oracle Challenge team will be Demos Ambassadors at the Forum.

By signing up to The Demos Center Project, you will:

  • Enjoy stimulating classroom lectures and eye-opening discussions with noted guest lecturers.
  • Go on tours of Athens and the surrounding region pertinent to each week's course topic.
  • Participate in panel discussions or post-film screening discussions relevant to the week's topic.
  • Visit selected media outlets, the Hellenic Parliament and have meetings with a journalist, minister, public policy official, or artists at their studios.
  • Work on special projects, i.e. research papers, journalistic articles, video short films, art and graphic art or earn service-learning credit while also being mentored.

You can earn as many as 9 academic credit hours and 1 service-learning credit of coursework:

  • Back to the Future: Democracy from the Hill of the Pnyx to Twitter explores the creation of democracy and government from its roots at the Acropolis of Athens. This is a kinetic course that includes classroom lectures, Socratic method discussions, and guided tours in and around Athens.
  • The Social Impact of Journalism and Democracy examines, explores, and analyzes the history, function, and ability of journalism, through a selected number of historic international care studies, to bring about social change in the fight for justice and more democratic, open governments.
  • The Pillars of Democracy and Government for the People lays out the foundations for a democracy and a corresponding government. This is an essential course for students destined to work in government and/or creating public policies and for those who will negotiate with government as proxies for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and other social organizations.
  • Political Leadership and Rhetoric traces the history of leadership and rhetoric from the ancient Greek world to the modern one in the context of the political times in which they lives/existed.
  • Ochlocracy (Mob Rule): The Rise of Populism through the Ages traces the rise and fall of populism from ancient Greece to today.

The American College of Greece (ACG) hosts the Demos Center Project as it is the perfect place to launch and foster such a Center because its leadership embraces innovation as an integral part of its DNA. By choosing ACG, you will:

  • Study abroad at the oldest and largest American educational institution in Europe.
  • Explore Athens and the nearby Greek islands while using the ACG campus as your springboard.
  • Mingle with ACG students and be part of an international student body from 78 countries worldwide.
  • Enjoy a top-notch secure and safe environment at the idyllic, 64-acre ACG campus at the foothills of Mount Hymettus.
  • Live in the modern ACG Residence Complex situated just a short walk from campus, nearby grocery stores, cafes, restaurants, and shopping centers.

Demos Center Project Summer 2023

Accommodation TypeComprehensive Demos Center Study Abroad Fee
Double Room (in shared apartment)$ 5,008
Single Room (in shared apartment)$ 5,638
Private Studio$ 5,868

Mary CardarasThe Demos Center is initiated by Dr. Mary Cardaras, a writer, EMMY award-winning journalist and documentary filmmaker who holds a PhD in Public and International Affairs from Northeastern University in Boston. She is also a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Hellenic Culture and the Liberal Arts at The American College of Greece. She has been teaching university students since 1991 and is interested in their development as active, interested, curious citizens of their communities and of the world. The Demos Center is the culmination of her dedication to government and public policy that serves people, journalism that shines a light in the dark corners of the world, and in the flourishment of art and creativity, which are the hallmarks of all free societies.

Cardaras is a Greek-born adoptee and fights for the restoration of Greek citizenship for some 4,000 Greek children, now adults, which was stripped from them when they were exported out of their country after the Cold War. Nostos for Greek Adoptees is an initiative that the Demos Center sponsors as one of its first initiatives beyond its core mission; to provide a premiere study abroad experience in one of the most consequential cities on earth. Athens, Greece.

She serves as Director of Demos and looks forward to welcoming students from all over the world to Deree — The American College of Greece.

The Demos Center is coming this summer 2023 and is a unit of The Institute for Hellenic Culture and the Liberal Arts.  


For information about The Demos Center or The Institute, contact the Director of The Demos Center, Dr. Mary Cardaras @[email protected].