After more than a decade of absence, modern Greek studies courses are back— and thriving at the University of Toronto in Canada’s biggest city.
The 2014-15 academic year marked the return of the program, thanks in large part to student activism by the university’s Greek Student Association (GSA) who undertook a concerted the effort to revive the program.
Support also came from the Hellenic Heritage Foundation, a Toronto-based organization that promotes Greek culture and education through numerous programs, including a 3-year $180,000 donation to fund the program.
“The program was mainly revived based on student interest, and so that’s how it was brought up,” said Victoria Bekiaris, a fifth-year student who was involved with the initiative from its early stages told The Varsity, the university’s publication.
By September 2014, the year-long modern Greek language course was one of the three new Hellenic studies’ courses being offered.
While those behind the initiative were excited to see years of work paying off, they were also nervous about the initial reception of the program. Their worries soon dissipated as the inaugural year of the program proved to be a success.
“Given the sizzling political developments in Greece and the region, there was a great interest in our political science and contemporary Greece courses,” said Themistoklis Aravossitas, who has been named as the instructor of the modern Greek course. “Our Greek language course had one of the highest enrollment rates among all universities in North America and the students’ feedback was great.”
As a result of last year’s success, several other courses are being offered in the upcoming year including: Introductory modern Greek, elementary modern Greek, and advanced modern Greek II and I. With such rapid development, in only its second year, the future of the program looks very promising.
With the HHF’s support, two half-courses in Greek politics and Greek history, respectively, and one full course in Greek Language will be offered.
Public lectures will be included as well an opportunity for students to travel to Greece as part of their studies for credit.