Founded in Paros, Greece in 1966 as an independent, Not-For-Profit Institution, The Aegean Center continues to maintain its autonomous, non-profit status offering small group and individualized study in the visual arts, creative writing and music. Our facilities are located in two of the worlds most compelling locations–the Aegean Islands of Greece and Italy’s Tuscany. The Spring Session is held at our restored Neoclassical facility on the island of Paros, in the heart of the historical market street in the main port village of Paroikia. The Fall Session takes place in both Italy and Greece. This session begins in Italy at our lovely 16th Century Tuscan villa in the hills above Pistoia, 30 kilometers from Florence, and concludes at our facility in Paros. Besides providing an opportunity to study the arts in two celebrated locations, the Aegean Center program also provides an unparalleled and satisfying way to acquire a new and crucial world perspective as well as to broaden and develop a more gratifying sense of self.
The value of a wholly autonomous study abroad program specializing in small group and individualized study is immense. Looking beyond the academic model toward a vision of lifelong learning, the Aegean Center does not require outside institutional affiliation. Not being bound by association to the requirements and orthodoxies of larger more generic programs, the Center is free to create courses of exceptional quality and independence. This freedom was indeed one of the founding principles of the Center and remains so to this day. With our small group structure, and having no obligation to conform to outside program course dictates, we are free to directly address the strengths and weakness of each and every student, simply because we have the freedom to do so.
Small by design, each session is organized around a format of intensive small group and one-to-one instruction with our full-time staff members, as well as our visiting lecturers and artists. We continue to develop our core courses over many years. It is from our long and committed experience of specialized teaching in distinctive cultural environments, as well as influence gained from the constant flow of new students that we garner the inspiration and ideas to further develop and improve our courses on an ongoing basis.
Also immensely consequential to our program design is the sense of Place, where the students find themselves and the Center’s deep integration into the local environment and culture. It is important to mention that our student apartments are very near the Center in the heart of the village. The Aegean Center has been a part of the life and texture of Paros for many years and we are very proud to be included in its history, and Paros is indeed very rich with history and culture. But the island is not just about the past and the ancient. It is also a remarkably lively environment reflecting contemporary Greek culture and thought, partially due to its close proximity to the mainland and always being a major hub for passenger boats serving the Cycladic Archipelago. This discovery of Place, where one finds oneself personally in relation to Place, imparts a tremendous influence and is pivotal and crucial to a student’s individual growth and learning experience while at the Aegean Center.
Students are encouraged to explore and expand a personal vocabulary while being immersed in the classical disciplines from which the Western tradition of art and thought has emerged. Students will commit to a primary course of study as well as choose from a weekly schedule of classes. Each student is required to have weekly one-to-one consultation with their teachers in their subject of concentration.
Students are further encouraged to choose their own projects, define their own goals and achieve growth on real terms, not through regimented goal seeking and other means most commonly found in a traditional large school environment. They pursue these projects and individual goals with careful and attentive overseeing and tutoring by our staff. It is also important to note that students will be learning by way of direct example from those teaching and advising them. It is required that all our staff be practicing artists, scholars and practitioners of the course work they are responsible for teaching in our small group and tutorial learning environment.