The Initiative

In the Summer of 2009, the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, at the University of Alabama, committed funding to bring a doctoral student from Aristotle University, in Thessaloniki, to Tuscaloosa to work as a member of the Department of Religious Studies for the Spring 2010 semester. At that point, the Department had already had two successful study abroad trips to Thessaloniki and had begun developing a variety of informal relationships with some faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students at Aristotle University.  The Department of Religious Studies had a wonderful experience working with Vaia Touna (she taught Greek language courses for the Department of Modern Languages and Classics, along with her own introduction to the study of religion and co-taught two courses with a senior Religious Studies faculty member); the Dean committed the same funding for the Spring 2012 semester.

In the meantime, the Dean committed separate funding, to which a number of Departments also contributed, so that, during the 2010-11 academic year, the College could explore further whether to pursue a long term, collaborative relationship with Aristotle University. To achieve this, a committee of University of Alabama faculty planned a series of events for the Spring 2011 semester that highlighted the place of ancient and modern Greece in the work of our faculty members–the planning committee included a professor who has her own very successful study abroad course to Greece, quite apart from REL Goes to Greece. As part of the initiative, the planning committee also hosted two different faculty members from Aristotle University, both visiting Tuscaloosa, meeting faculty and students, and presenting their own research.

Should this initiative develop as hoped, there may come a day when REL Goes to Greece is but one among many collaborative ventures involving faculty and students at these two universities. An additional goal of REL Goes to Greece 2011 is therefore to help further enthusiasm for this initiative.

Learn more about the Alabama Greece Initiative’s events here.