The Program in Hellenic Studies offers an undergraduate curriculum in Modern Greek and Greek-American Studies, interdepartmental support for graduate students working on Greece and the Balkans, and a series of events and conferences for the larger academic and Greek communities in the New York area. Under the auspices of the Classics Department, the Program allows students to study Greece through a contemporary lens and prepares them for further academic study and later professional work in the field. Students are encouraged to study in Greece in the summer and during their Junior year. The curriculum aims to build a strong linguistic base, a knowledge of the field, and a theoretical framework for analyzing cultural difference more generally.
Since the 1930s dedicated teachers have offered courses in Modern Greek language and culture at Columbia and Barnard, but not until 1988 with a gift from Kimon A. Doukas was there a concentrated effort to set up a program. The efforts of Roger Bagnall, Chair of the Classics Department at Columbia, and Helene Foley, Chair of Classics at Barnard, enabled the hiring of the Modern Greek specialist Karen Van Dyck in 1988 from Oxford. Van Dyck offered a two-year sequence of Modern Greek language and culture courses, and a series of literature seminars taught in Greek, one per semester in a four-semester rotation, alternating surveys and special topic courses. This basic curriculum was supplemented whenever possible with interdisciplinary electives by Columbia faculty (Edward Malefakis for Greek History, Nina Garcoian, and later Alexander Alexakis, for Byzantine Studies, Karen Barkey for Ottoman Studies, Kenneth Frampton in Architecture, Stathis Gourgouris in Comparative Literature), as well as by visiting scholars. Over the years the course for bilingual students has been taught on a variety of topics and by a wide range of talented adjunct faculty: Dan Georgakas (Film), Gail Holst-Warhaft (Music), Andreas Kalyvas (Political Philosophy), Ioanna Laliotou (History), Maria Leontsini (Sociology of Literature), Elena Tzelepis (Philosophy), and Vassiliki Yiakoumaki (Food and the EU). In 1996 the departmment was able to secure a three-year promise to support a junior professorship in Modern Greek Studies from the Onassis Foundation and the Foundation for Hellenic Culture.