Sustainable Civilizations

Sustainable Civilizations



Trip Themes

Ancient History, Sustainability, Environment, Energy, Culture, Food, Agriculture

Cities Visited

Athens, Heraklion, Chania, Agios Nikolaos

What can we learn from thousands of years of adaptation in Greece?

Sustainability is a timeless challenge. In Greece, ancient societies developed systems to adapt to their environment, maintain political control, and preserve cultural traditions for centuries. Farmers and architects used the natural landscape around them to keep their people thriving. Now, as we consider present-day issues like migration, climate change, and financial instability, how can we continue to adapt? What is Greece doing today to work toward environmental and economic prosperity?

On this trip, we will explore the Greeks’ connection to land and natural resources, from ancient irrigation methods to modern permaculture and bio-energy development. We’ll visit the Greek island of Crete to learn about how the earliest civilizations made use of natural resources, and consider current-day challenges making farmers vulnerable. We will examine the connection between the environment, culture, and economics through personal conversations with locals who are working to promote a sustainable Greece. And we will reflect on how we define sustainability, and how we can take action to bring sustainable practices to our own communities.



In Athens, we’ll explore how a modern capital can be built on thousands of years of history. We will investigate the historical core of Greece atop the Acropolis and meet with local NGOs to contextualize recent issues in the country.

We’ll take an excursion to a nearby permaculture farm to learn about sustainable agriculture and taste some locally produced honey. We’ll also climb to the church on top of Lycabettus hill, enjoy dinner at a hidden Taverna in Plaka, and take over a rooftop for a night of music and dancing looking out over the city.


Greek islands are famous for their varied history, beautiful towns, and stunning landscapes and on Crete we will explore all three.

We will visit the ruins of Knossos, Europe’s oldest city, and explore how ancient peoples designed their city to sustain their needs of the time. We’ll also see first-hand how important Greek staples like olive oil, cheese, and filo dough are produced and how they connect modern culture to the past. We’ll have the opportunity to learn about renewable energy technologies that are helping the island lower its carbon footprint, including a visit to the picturesque windmills of the Lassithi Plateau.

Across the island we will also take time to connect with local students and communities and explore smaller seaside towns and mountain villages. And of course we will enjoy incredible mezzes, handmade pastries, and some reinvented Minoan cuisine, as we get a first hand taste of Greece and even learn to make some Cretan dishes ourselves.


Atlas Workshops has a deep network in Greece and a passion for connecting ancient stories to the present day. While the perfect immersive trip to ancient Greece would involve a time-machine, it’s important to explore how the history is set among a complex modern nation.

We can adapt the trip to have a strong focus on specific issues related to sustainability and climate change at the micro or macro level, or through a more historical or more contemporary lens, depending on the trip focus. From a targeted look at food and agriculture, to STEM and renewable energy, to politics and public memory, this trip template is flexible.

By balancing exploration of different themes and contexts, a trip to Greece can combine disparate interests and appeal to a large group of students. By asking questions about identity and historical narratives, this trip can also fit into a wider discussion about global citizenship and diversity at a school.

For a trip with a deeper focus on current issues in Greece, we have a variety of other programs in the country, such as “Island of Migration.” Likewise we can also link this trip focus to a program in another country and conduct an investigation of sustainability in Iceland, Ghana, Australia, Scandinavia, or Latin America.