CLAS students explore art, history, and architecture in Greece

Students enrolled in the course City of Athens: Bronze Age of Greece spent the spring semester intensively studying ancient Greece. Their reward? Visiting Greece.
Monday, September 11, 2023

By: Emily Delgado  

Over the summer, University of Iowa Department of Classics faculty member Debra Trusty led a group of 24 students across Athens as a continued learning experience of her spring semester class and study abroad course titled City of Athens: Bronze Age to Roman World.  

“The main goal of this program was to expose students to the unique world of Athens, Greece, and help them experience first-hand how the city has handled both the difficulties and benefits of its long and rich past,” Trusty explains.  

A group of students from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in front of the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, Greece.
The study abroad group in front of the Temple of Poseidon in Sounion, Greece.

The class and the trip focused on the deep history, art, and archaeology of ancient Greece. Prior to the trip, Trusty worked to make sure her students were exposed to and well-informed through photographs, lectures, and scholarly materials that would help bring the ancient city to life for her students.  

All of this prepared the students within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for an immersive experience in the culture, while also earning credit for majors in Ancient Civilization, Anthropology, and History.  

“Our classroom is Athens, and I show them around, lecture at sites, and give them ample time to explore the city and its culture,” Trusty adds.  

Lauren Aoki, a student who participated in the study abroad program, said the course provided valuable insights and information about ancient Athens. 

“By immersing myself in the Greek culture, I was able to practice cultural relativism firsthand and keep an open mind,” said Aoki, who graduated in May with a degree in anthropology.  

A photo of the group of students receiving a private tour from Assistant to the Director of the Agora excavations, Irene Dimitriadou.
The group received a private tour from Assistant to the Director of the Agora excavations Irene Dimitriadou. 

The trip gave Aoki and her fellow classmates a rare opportunity to actually experience what they learned firsthand, while also gaining the confidence to travel alone and explore new places.  

“This exhilarating experience allowed me to broaden my knowledge about diverse cultures and ways of life and easily apply my academic knowledge in a practical setting. I confidently explored a foreign city, learned a few phrases of the language, and embraced new cultural practices,” Aoki said.  

Trusty says she hoped her students, after weeks of extensive studying, felt at home and at ease in Athens. She says programs like this one are crucial for expanding learning experiences for students.  

Throughout the trip, Trusty and her students were continuously greeted with screams of “Go, Hawks!”  

“Our students and faculty, past and present, are everywhere,” Trusty says. “It makes our world seem a lot smaller when you realize how connected and impactful the University of Iowa is with the rest of the world.”  

Study abroad group in front of the Temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina in Greece.
Study abroad group in front of the Temple of Aphaia on the island of Aegina in Greece.


The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.