Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this program will not be offered in summer 2021. We hope to offer the program in summer 2022!
As participants in this program, students will gain an appreciation of Greek classical, medieval, and modern civilizations by traversing Greece, visiting ancient archeological sites, exploring Byzantine castles and monasteries, touring numerous museums and art galleries, wandering the streets of dozens of Greek cities, traveling to a few of Greece’s renowned islands, and meeting contemporary Greeks.
This program is such an amazing opportunity to experience the beauty the Greece has to offer. You get to explore the well known places of Greece but also discover the hidden gems that the country has to offer. Isabela and Greg make sure that their students are immersed in the country and provide such an amazing opportunity for every student. By the end of the trip, you definitely won't want to leave. - Rebecca, 2019
I would recommend this program to others as I learned a lot about ancient, Byzantine, and modern Greece. I thought that this class was very informative as well as a fun experience where people can learn about another culture. - Brenann, 2019
Gregory Bruess, Associate Dean & Associate Professor, College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Campus Address: SAB 319
Dr. Gregory Bruess is currently the Associate Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and a professor in the department of History. He earned his PhD at the University of Minnesota and is a specialist in Orthodox Christianity, Modern Russian and Greek history. Since 1982, he has traveled extensively in Greece, where he has studied, conducted research, and presented numerous scholarly papers at universities and institutes. Dr. Bruess is fluent in Greek.
Isabela Varela, Director of ISSO
Campus Address: MAU 113
Dr. Isabela Varela is currently the Director of the International Students and Scholars Office in the Office of International Programs. She is a licensed Greek tour guide, an expert on Greek archeological sites and both ancient Greek and Byzantine art and culture. Dr. Varela brings nearly three decades of tour leading experience to this course. She holds undergraduate degrees from the College of Tour Guides, Athens, Greece, and the University of Minnesota and graduate degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. Dr. Varela is a native speaker of Greek.
Drs. Bruess and Varela have nearly 75 years of experience in Greece between them. They are extremely proud to have had the privilege to introduce more than 300 students to Greece and to share with them their love of its stunning natural beauty, history, culture, and society. Their program, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2019, is the longest, continuously running study abroad program at UNI.
The program has two components:
CAP 3123 Greece: From the "Cradle of Democracy" to Today (3 credit hours) and HIST 3186 Study Abroad Greece: Greek Material Culture (2 credit hours)
**Participants will also take one course in the spring in order to prepare for the study abroad experience, HIST 3186 - 01 Studies in History: Preparation Study Abroad - Greece (1 credit hour). Mandatory meetings will be held Thursdays at 4 pm during the spring semester. For information on enrolling in this spring course, participants should contact the program's course leaders.
The purpose of the two courses are two fold: Give students the opportunity to visit and experience the “cradle of Western civilization;” and challenge them to re-examine that very same “classical” perception of Greece and the Greeks in light of Greece’s other rich heritages: Greece of the Byzantine Empire, Greece during its 350-year occupation by the Ottoman Turks, and modern Greece, that is, Greece since 1821.While in Greece, students will attend lectures on various aspects of Greek civilization and participate in class visits to site locations. Students will be asked to address such diverse issues as: the role of geography on Greek civilization; the impact of Catholic and Islamic rule on Greek culture; the use of myth, religion, and modern political philosophy to legitimize thought and deed; the challenge of modern city planning and living amidst archeological treasures; the impact of tourism on Greek society; and how Greeks view themselves and their past. To view the course syllabus, click HERE.
CAP 3123 and HIST 3186 are scheduled as summer courses. The Study Abroad Center will direct enroll participants in these two courses during the spring semester.
- In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program's course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study.
- Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
- Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
- Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken the program's capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
Tentative Program Dates: June, 3 weeks
Sample itinerary is subject to change. Depending on a variety of factors, participants may either fly individually and pay the airline directly for their airfare OR fly as a group from the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids and pay a designated travel agency for their airfare. Program participants will be informed on how to purchase airfare once they are committed to participation, in the months prior to program departure.
Day 1: Arrive in Athens
Days 2-5: Lots of busy fun-filled, sun-filled days. Visit the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. Walk the streets of Athens and learn about Ancient Greece while actually standing before famous locations such as the Olympic Stadium, the Old Royal Palace, the Plaka district, and Syntagma Square. Visit the National Archeological Museum
Day 5: En route to Nafplion, one of the most picturesque cities on mainland Greece, stop and see the Corinth Canal which connects the Saronic with the Corinthian Gulf; visit Ancient Corinth and stand where the Apostle Paul preached.
Day 6-7: Visit the prehistoric site of Mycenae, home of the mythical King Agamemnon; the Sanctuary of Asclepius; and the spectacular Theater of Epidaurus. Enjoy free time to explore Nafplion, climb to Palamidi Fortress for a breath-taking view, and swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
Day 8: Visit Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games; View the Temple of Zeus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Enjoy dinner with a spectacular view
Day 9: In Ancient Delphi, visit the Sanctuary of Apollo on the steep slopes of Mt. Parnassos and see the place where, according to legend, the oracle delivered Apollo’s pronouncements to mortals.
Days 10-11: Meteora Monasteries - Experience this unique and stunning landscape created by nature 30 million years ago .Visit the monasteries perched atop sandstone peaks. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day 12: Back to Athens – Free day to explore
Day 13: Fly to the island of Crete; visit the prehistoric palace of Knossos, home of the legendary King Minos and the minotaur
Days 14-17: Explore Rethymnon while you soak up its culture and history. Enjoy the amazing beaches
Day 18: Travel by hydrofoil ferry to the island of Santorini, renowned for the whitewashed, cubiform houses of its two principal towns, Fira and Oia; cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater)
Day 19: On Santorini, visit the Prehistoric Thera museum and learn about ancient Akrotiri and the 15-century BC volcanic explosion that destroyed it.
Days 20-21: Return to Athens; folklore dances and last minute shopping!
Day 22: Depart for U.S.
Housing & Meals
Accommodations, two meals per day, local transportation, and cultural activities are included in the program cost. Students stay in 2- and 3-star hotels.
Capstone in Greece
Estimated Program Cost:
* estimated total cost of participation, actual amount depends on type of housing accommodation selected, actual airfare purchase price, personal spending habits, and other factors
Cost of studying on-campus*
*per semester, estimated, will vary per person
Tuition & Fees:
Room & Board:
Dates & Deadlines
The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:
- Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
- If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
- Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
- Must be over the age of 18 years old
- Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
- Must be in good standing with the University
- UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
- Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
- All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
- Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.