Sunoikisis is a consortium of Classics programs at national liberal arts colleges. "Sunoikisis" comes from Thucydides (3.3.1) in reference to the alliance formed by the cities of Lesbos (Methymna excluded) in their revolt against the Athenian empire in 428 B.C.E. Likewise, this collaborative program seeks to develop a set of common goals and achieve a degree of success and prominence that goes beyond the capacity of a single program.
Curricular elements within this program include:
- Inter-institutional collaborative courses
- Undergraduate research symposium
- Faculty development seminars
Sunoikisis enables students and faculty at participating institutions to benefit from opportunities normally available only at large research institutions, while maintaining the advantages of a small liberal arts learning environment.
The large and diverse national faculty within Sunoikisis permits us to broaden and deepen our Classics curriculum, both in literature and in archaeology. The cycle of Sunoikisis team-taught literature courses exposes students to a wider range of subject material and faculty than would be possible otherwise. Indeed, the president of an elite northeastern college commented in October 2004 that Sunoikisis courses surpass courses offered by large institutions in that their collaborative nature unusually enriches them in terms of content and methodological approach. The program, by providing a range and quality of opportunities for majors, prepares students who choose to continue their training in graduate school to compete with graduates from the leading research universities in the country.
The inter-institutional collaborative courses within Sunoikisis necessarily make use of technology to connect institutions. The class sessions are synchronous, and student attendance and participation are required. In addition, students engage in asynchronous discussion with one another outside of “class” time.
Skills required to successfully negotiate the synchronous and asynchronous sessions have a direct application to various careers outside of Classics, for example in business, medicine, law. As our global environment becomes more and more the norm, effective workers must be able to function within multi-layered virtual offices. A recent Latin major, now an accountant with a leading firm, reports that skills learned during Sunoikisis courses placed him well ahead of his contemporaries in terms of abilities to work with colleagues located in remote offices.
Southwestern’s engagement in Sunoikisis is yielding new collaborative and interdisciplinary paradigms essential for liberal arts learning in the 21st century.
Sunoikisis was cited as a model by academic leadership consultants Susan Frost and Aimee Pozorski in Chaos and the New Academy.