Honors Seminars

Study of representations of bodies through the lens of contemporary art; interdisciplinary approach to the topic, with specific emphasis on novel developments in visual arts and cultural studies.

The course focuses on experiences of mobility and conceptualizations of identity in the Aegean in the context of historical, social, and cultural interfaces between Greeks and Turks. Emphasis on instances of displacement and intercultural contact between Greece and Turkey from the Ottoman times all the way to the present.

This course uses Sophocles’ Antigone and its multiple readings, adaptations, and enactments, as springboard in order to explore the problematic of communal belonging and individuality, especially in its contemporary manifestations. Antigone, an emblematic figure of civil disobedience, offers us a way to reflect on the underpinnings of citizenship, resistance, and ethical responsibility. The course invites an interdisciplinary engagement with Antigone, one that brings together philosophy, literary theory, aesthetics, political theory, and gender studies. Readings and material will be drawn from the humanities and art.

An interdisciplinary overview of eating behaviour from the perspectives of natural and social sciences. Drawing from basic principles of neuroscience and biopsychology, the course focuses on underlying brain mechanisms of metabolism and food perception, which are also mediated by human subjectivity and cultural norms.

Interdisciplinary study of the political, social, and cultural impact of the machines in the modern industrial and post-industrial era.

A provoking and integrative examination of introductory natural science and the application of its principles in the debunking of popular conspiracies and controversies. Combining physics, chemistry and biology, the seminar applies theoretical and laboratory practices to put to rigorous testing pseudo-scientific beliefs and disciplines. Engaging in interdisciplinary explorations of historical, philosophical and social perspectives on scientific methodology, the course aims to develop students’ awareness of the dangers of pseudo-scientific thought and assist them in the making of rational and healthy decisions in their everyday life.

An interdisciplinary exploration of sound in new media art. The course will be based on Kodwo Eshun’s concept of sonic fiction (the point where sound and science fiction intersect), in order to provide a framework for discussion of the cultural and aesthetic dimensions of new media art. In parallel, students will have a hands-on experience of creative computer coding, with the aim of implementing technology to give creative expression to their experience of selected science fiction texts. The course does not assume prior knowledge or experience of artistic creation or computer coding. Emphasis is placed on experiential learning, and for this reason class meetings take place in a computer lab.

An interdisciplinary treatment of food as key element of political, social, and cultural dimensions of Greek experience. Combining theoretical and methodological approaches in archaeology and anthropology, and focusing on the Greek context, the course guides students through an exploration of culinary practices from the prehistoric to the present days, placing emphasis on food as a sign of ethnic, gender, religious, local, trans-local and multicultural identities. Short field trips in the city center and museums unveil the long culinary history of the city of Athens, highlighting multicultural influences in the development of Greece’s distinctive culinary culture.

A historical treatment of the evolving ideas of Greekness from the Greek revolution to the present. The course explores changing notions of Greek identity articulated by both Greeks and non-Greeks. Focusing on different texts, from historical documents and literary works as well as films and electronic media, the course helps students explore different perspectives on Greek identity, articulated by both Greeks and non-Greeks. As a result, students develop awareness of the contingent and shifting nature of Greekness, and reflect on the ideological significance of representations of Greekness, both within and outside Greece.

An interdisciplinary, thought-provoking and integrative discussion on the topic of Infectious Disease. The course focuses on the biological basis of infection and the various pathogens that cause disease, as well as its socio-political aspects and how infectious disease has been a major driving force of historic events through epidemics that have shaped the world as we know it today. Attention will be given to the development of various strategies (both pseudoscientific and scientific) for combating disease from a joint biological and ethical perspective.

An interdisciplinary study of how images in art and media construct political and social ideologies and shape identities in modernity. Images play a fundamental role in representing, imagining and even constructing the world, as well as our basic sense of social identities. Technologies of power put into action with the means of images shape political, technological and sociological discourses. From early controversies over the use of images, motivated by political and religious ideologies, to the modern society of spectacle and the use of image-based social media, images inform our identity, disposition and desires. The course will map the cultural, aesthetic, political and technological contexts which have shaped image-related notions of power and selfhood across history, thus, leading to contemporary Western culture. The course is structured on a series of interrelated themed sections, aiming to shed light on issues of image as power and their cultural, political, and philosophical connotations.

The course considers the ethical, social, and aesthetic implications of virtual reality and artificial life in 21st-century technology-dominated culture. It aims to promote students’ awareness of the potential outcomes–epistemological, psychological, ethical, and social–of technological advances that are based on virtual simulations, augmented realities, and intelligent machines. In computer-simulated environments human life is experienced as suspended, mediated between the physical and the digital worlds. Computer developers attempt both to simulate physical bodies in virtual spaces and imitate human behaviors in expert systems and robots. Artificial intelligence systems are used in the processes of learning, deciding, correcting and justifying. Can computers simulate human processes such as intelligence and creativity? Can our brains recognize the dividing line between the physical and the virtual? To what extent do robots have the same rights as human beings? How do the new mediated realities affect subjectivity, identity, aesthetic judgment, and social relations?

This course will explore the construction and representation of erotic desire across Western art and thought, as well as the precarious dialogue between eroticism and cultural orthodoxies. Desire is one of the most central and provoking concepts of Western consciousness; the ways in which desire has been conceived, re-conceived, represented, and transformed reflect cultural shifts which affect the way we think about desire and identity. Using a variety of ‘texts’ from antiquity to modernity (tales, poetry, film, opera), and following an interdisciplinary approach, the course will map the cultural, aesthetic, political and legal environments which have shaped the way we understand desire in contemporary times. The course is structured on a series of interrelated themed sections, aiming to shed light on a network of alternative definitions of desire, subjectivity, and the prohibited. Each themed section will be centered on a specific ‘text’ and its cultural, political, and philosophical connotations across the ages.

An interdisciplinary course that aims to expose students to the ways in which mathematical principles and laws underline, inform, and help explain various facets of human experience. Using as starting points natural phenomena, forms of popular culture and elements of social life, the course will demonstrate the centrality of mathematical laws and the importance of mathematical consciousness. The course helps students understand how natural and cultural phenomena can be quantified. Aspects of nature, art, law, music, philosophy are investigated for patterns and equations that govern everyday life. By guiding students to an appreciation of mathematics not as an abstract science but rather as a vital tool for understanding the meaning of phenomena (natural, cultural, social), students will develop awareness of the mathematical structures at work on various planes of human experience.

The course considers the ethical, social and political impact of digitized information on individuals and societies by examining the Internet as the cyber agora in which the netizens of a cyber polis exchange goods and ideas. It aims to develop the students’ ethical awareness of their role as citizens of the information society, as well as promote their understanding of the political and social significance of information and communication technologies.

A hands-on interdisciplinary course that introduces students to a fertile synthesis of Innovation Management theory and Design Thinking, a methodology that draws upon logic, imagination, intuition, and systemic reasoning to produce innovation in various business and social contexts. Bringing theory and practice together, the course will guide students to tackle a social, business, ecological, or cultural challenge of their choice through application of innovative problem-solving based on the principles of Design Thinking. Design Thinking constitutes an effective approach in generating innovation through early prototyping, formative feedback, and repeated iterations. The course is grounded on established research around Innovation Management and deploys Design Thinking as the methodology for actually generating innovation. Following an experiential mode of delivery, the course functions as a laboratory for innovation by providing a sandbox for applying Design Thinking applications.

This course will explore the ways in which poverty is not only represented but also constructed in/through various media, ranging from ancient literary texts to social history, political theory, and contemporary film. It seeks to enquire into the preconditions and cultural assumptions that inform representations of poverty, with special emphasis on the 20th and 21st centuries. The socioeconomic context which produces poverty also produces the discourse through which constructions of poverty are generated and propagated. Using a variety of ‘texts’ from antiquity to modernity (poetry, prose romance, social history, photography, short fiction, and film), and following an interdisciplinary approach, the course will map the cultural, aesthetic, political and legal environments which have shaped the way we understand poverty in contemporary times. The course is structured on a series of interrelated and transhistorical themed sections, aiming to shed light on a network of alternative representations of poverty. Each themed section will be centered on a specific ‘text’ and its cultural, political, and philosophical resonance across the ages.

In this interdisciplinary course students are exposed to basic human brain anatomy, functions and neuroscience principles contributing to debates regarding the nature of perception and consciousness. An integration of biophysiological, neuroscientific, evolutionary, cognitive, and philosophical perspectives is explored in connection with the phenomenon of consciousness. The nature of mental content, and the neurobiological realization of consciousness are examined from multiple perspectives such as neurobiological, evolutionary, neuropsychological, and quantum mechanics. Students come to understand how our rich subjective experiences arise from objective neural activity and gain an insight into the biopsychological nature of the self, free will, artificial intelligence and the possibility of consciousness in animals.

The course offers students the opportunity to study different ways of experiencing and understanding the material (social, political and historic) as well as imaginary dimensions of modern urban spaces. Emphasis upon city imaginaries aims to expose students to various discourses (sociological, aesthetic, literary, etc.) as tools for the study of modern cityscapes. The modern metropolis is experienced and represented both as a symbolic topos and as a purely material site. Urban theory, literature, visual arts and film, construct the modern metropolis in a variety of ways by means of theoretical, literary, artistic and cinematic representations. In employing an interdisciplinary approach, this course invites students to examine the modern city as an ‘object of the imagination’ as well as the product and producer of a concrete social reality.

The course explores the interrelationship of private stories and public experience through study of the characteristics and function of oral story-telling. Focus is placed on the connection between story-telling, personal memory, and social/historical experience. Students are exposed to the techniques and processes of oral history, such as researching the subject; conducting interviews; handling materials ethically and responsibly; preserving personal narratives; and composing and editing research documents and projects. Using an interdisciplinary approach (that combines history with sociology and communication) and a variety of different texts (theoretical, oral, visual), the course aims to sensitize students to the functions and significance of orality as a means of articulating as well as shaping history and experience, both private and public. Major emphasis is placed on experiential learning of the subject, as much of the course will involve on-site instruction and direct contact with the object of study. Students will work under the guidance of the instructor on specified subjects that will vary from semester to semester.

This seminar will explore the various ways in which madness has been represented in the creative imagination across the ages in a variety of media (theatre, literature, autobiography, film, pop culture etc.) and at the same time pay close attention to specific cultural subtexts offered by these depictions. The issue of the insane has always been a central theme in the arts and in theory (philosophy, politics, cultural theory), and has undergone numerous transformations, reversals, and deconstructions. Using case studies, predominantly contrasting in nature and/or in scope, the course will not only deal with the attraction many artists felt towards madness either as subject-matter or as experience, but also with the political, philosophical and cultural issues that arise from the various representations of madness. The course will explore the motif of madness as a subversive state of being, the mythology surrounding the mentally unstable, the ways in which authors who were diagnosed as insane transcribed their experience in text-form, as well as the interrelationship between gender and mental health. In addition, the course will pay particular attention to the formation of the mythology of the criminally insane in Hollywood and to contemporary tendencies in the depictions of madness in TV and advertising. Using a variety of materials from Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Björk’s Violently Happy, this course will offer an insight to the ways in which the themes of insanity and the insane have been used and abused across history, and the ways in which these themes are still very relevant to our world-view and culture.

In this Honors seminar students engage in structured walkabouts in the city of Athens, which enable them to become both readers and writers of the text of the city. Emphasis upon individual experience of the cityscape as a palimpsest aims to expose students to various discourses and urban morphologies (sociological, historical, aesthetic, etc.), as well as to everyday social interactions. Strolling Athens, specifically, is used as a means for the students to form individual responses to various aspects of the city. Much of the course is taught on site, as it will invite students to structured physical and intellectual walkabouts around the city of Athens. By using contemporary Athens as strolling ground, and by employing an interdisciplinary approach, this course will invite students to engage in flanerie in order to examine the several layers of the urban palimpsest.

An interdisciplinary course that introduces students to principles of gaming which inform a broad spectrum of human behaviors and practices. Uncovering the analogies between games and social interactions and practices, the course provides a conceptual toolkit that can be applied towards navigating our increasingly gamified world. It introduces students to principles of gaming through an interdisciplinary perspective, in order to sensitize them to the ways in which gaming intersects with problem solving, strategic negotiations, self-motivated action, and design thinking. The vibrant insights of gaming allow for a novel reading of contemporary practices encountered in business, politics, technological applications, and psychology, thus enabling a more sophisticated understanding today’s social and cultural landscape.

The course explores the construction of masculinity across different historical settings, and in the contexts of race, nationality, and sexuality. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, the course offers students the opportunity to interrogate assumptions concerning maleness, rethink masculine identities, and develop awareness of masculinity as performance. Readings and material will be drawn from the humanities and social sciences, and popular culture. The course offers an overview of the ways in which maleness is perceived, enacted, imagined and represented in different contexts and through different media. It aspires to help students examine masculinity as a cultural construct and as performance, as well as consider the ways in which the masculine norm shapes social standards and private experience. This is an interdisciplinary course which enables a multi-faceted exploration of masculinity as a complex, layered, and unstable concept.

This Honors seminar invites students to engage in a critical exploration of political satire in art, literature and film. Students will be exposed to different types of satirical expression, and will be led to consider satire as a gesture of political resistance. Students also examine satire in connection with issues such as the limits to freedom of expression, censorship, and social responsibility. From the satirical dissection of middle-class life, to the critique of totalitarianism, social alienation and imperialism, satire in art, literature and film has issued a constructive challenge to socio-political pathologies, calling for increased political awareness and civic action. At the same time, however, satire has been accused of propaganda, or of overstepping the boundaries of free expression to attack religious and social sensibilities. This latter dimension of satire is evident throughout modern history, from the Nazi anti-jazz and anti-Semitic propaganda, to some of Charlie Hebdo’s controversial cartoons. In this context and through study of a variety of interdisciplinary materials, students are led to discover the latent socio-political and ethical dimensions of satire.

An introduction to sustainability and the science of selected environmental issues. This will be a field study course focusing on selected environmental aspects of campus life. Through field work, the students will not only gain practical knowledge of sustainability but also strengthen the campus culture in support of environmental issues. The operation of a university has clear environmental impacts and in this way, it is a living laboratory for environmental science work. This course aims to take advantage of this and provide students the opportunity to learn about environmental issues, ways to improve our relation with nature and the environment and promote sustainability through actual field work in their own college community. In this process, students will understand basic concepts of environmental science, will get a sense of the interdisciplinary / integrated nature of sustainability and will develop a hands-on understanding of scientific methods through experiential learning approaches. The course will focus on selected environmental topics / aspects and will be related with ongoing sustainability activities on campus.

The course teaches students to develop a meaningful relationship with lived experience through photography. Documentary photography frames and reproduces events and scenes of life, both public and personal. Emphasis is placed on photography as text (i.e. as a form of narrative that displays its own rules and structural characteristics) through which the individual photographer articulates his relationship with his environment. For this reason, the course encourages students to use photography as a means through which they are able to explore as well as give shape to the world around them. It introduces students to various types of documentary photography, and teaches them basic rules that govern this journalistic and artistic form. Major emphasis is placed on experiential learning of the subject, and for this reason much of the course is taught on site. Working on specified subjects under the guidance of the instructor, students develop awareness of the language of photography and its narrative power. The course presupposes basic knowledge of photography and ownership of a digital camera.

The course will investigate retellings of classic fairy tales in various art forms and media (i.e., text, image, film, music, theatre). Students will explore the purpose and means through which artists mine the cultural unconscious to produce the transformations of well-known bedtime stories. Informed by the practices of cultural studies, this interdisciplinary course will approach the subject holistically, encouraging students to place the works within their socio-historical context and to analyze the ways in which meaning is produced both in the classic tales and in their transformations. Traditionally viewed as tales deriving from folklore and conveying moral lessons, fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and Beauty and the Beast, have entertained and instructed generations of children in the Western world since the 18th century. More recently these classic stories have also been re-imagined, re-invented, and re-told for various purposes and to startling effect by a diverse array of modern and contemporary artists and image makers: poets, cartoonists, movie producers as well as advertisers. Whether new versions of these traditional tales recycle familiar thematic elements (such as the rags-to-riches plot of Cinderella) or reference iconic imagery (such as the girl in red), these retellings produce new versions, serious or satirical, subversive or approving of societal mores. Through this course students will learn to appreciate the diversity of cultural production, assess the uses of tradition in art and in the marketplace, and contribute orally and in writing to the creative and critical debate on the uses of fairy tales in post-modernity.

The course combines perspectives from political science, social psychology and cognitive neuroscience in examining the way in which emotions are connected to perceptions of political content and decision-making.

Politics is ‘hot’ because it is governed by emotions, polarizing views and cognitive biases. The course aims to introduce students to the psychological processes associated with reactions to politics, political behaviour and ideology, thereby contributing to their sense of civic duty and power, and encouraging them to reflect on their own political reasoning. Drawing on concepts from political psychology, cognitive neuroscience and sociobiology, the course focuses on how emotions and motivated cognition influence our understanding of contemporary political issues such as social divides, populism and polarization.

Choosing a thesis topic and the relevant advisor require preliminary work. This course will help students to select the Honors Thesis topic, choose a Thesis Advisor and develop the Honors Thesis Proposal. Through a series of assignments students will be guided through the requirements of Thesis preparation and will be provided with the relevant tools for their research project.

Independent study course in which students work directly with their Thesis Advisor to develop and complete the capstone project of their Honors education, the Honors Thesis.

The recent history of the Balkan peninsula with an emphasis on the formation of diverse ethnic, cultural, and religious identities, which has often entailed wars and crises.

A province of the Ottoman Empire until the 19th century, the Balkans became a theater of intense conflict and wars, as different ethnicities and nation-states struggled for territorial control in the wake of the Ottoman Empire’s collapse. Drawing on the origins of Balkan nations, the way their national myths were consolidated, and the challenges this has posed for regional and European security (some still relevant to this day), the course aims to introduce students to the role of cultural, historical and geopolitical factors on identity formation, thus helping them develop a sense of perspective in relation to international relations and global affairs.