From Erbil to Athens: The Greece Summer Programme for UKH Political and International Relations Students

By Ahmed Sabir

Democracy, a concept woven into the fabric of civilization since the days of Ancient Athens, has seen its definition evolve over centuries. From the dusty agora to the digital age, its transformation remains a dynamic and ongoing narrative entering the Greece Summer Programme for UKH Politics & International Relations students, a remarkable educational journey designed to immerse budding political minds in the essence of democracy.

This unique programme is more than just a study abroad opportunity; it’s a voyage through time and ideology. It offers students the chance to traverse the historical timeline of democracy, intermingling its past with contemporary dilemmas. As they embark on this intellectual adventure, participants will be exposed to daily class sessions, engaging discussion sections, and captivating field trips and activities. These experiences serve to untangle the complex fabric of Greece’s cultural heritage while encouraging students to contemplate the challenges faced by democracy in the present day.

The programme begins at its historical roots, tracing the steps of the ancient Greeks who laid the foundation of democracy. Students will explore the Athenian democracy, a system that emerged in the 5th century BC and offered citizens a direct role in decision-making—a revolutionary concept for its time. The journey continues as participants dive into the realms of the Roman and Byzantine empires. Here, they will dissect the complexities of the Roman Republic and Byzantine governance, shedding light on the ways in which these empires influenced the development of democratic ideals. With a deeper understanding of the past, students will progress into the modern era. The programme charts the evolution of democracy in Western civilization from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, tracing its profound impact on the shaping of contemporary political systems.

The final destination of this academic odyssey is an exploration of the challenges democracy faces in the 21st century. Through thought-provoking discussions and real-world case studies, participants will grapple with contemporary dilemmas such as populism, disinformation, and the role of technology in shaping the democratic landscape.What sets this programme apart is the holistic approach it takes, combining historical knowledge with modern-day issues. By examining democracy through the lens of various historical periods and contexts, students gain a profound understanding of its adaptability and the constant need for reform. Moreover, the experiential aspect of the programme is equally enriching. 

Field trips to iconic sites like the Acropolis and discussions amid the ruins of ancient Athens immerse students in the historical context, making the learning experience vivid and memorable.

As we stand on the cliff of an uncertain future, it is crucial to nurture the political leaders of tomorrow. The Greece Summer Programme for UKH Politics and International Relations students offers a priceless opportunity for these students to embrace the complexities of democracy in both historical and contemporary contexts. By delving into its roots and confronting present-day challenges, participants leave with a profound appreciation for the fluidity and resilience of democracy. This programme, set against the stunning backdrop of Greece, is not just an academic journey; it is a transformative experience that empowers students to become informed global citizens and advocates for a more inclusive and equitable democracy.