History & Mission

When Professor Gregory Nagy was appointed Director of Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies (CHS US) in 2000 he tried to bring together benefactor Paul Mellon’s vision to "give a fresh impetus but also a new direction to the study of Greek and hence to its effect on our own age," and the Center’s mission to "rediscover the humanism of the Hellenic Greeks." He envisioned a series of vital and innovative changes to guide the Center's operation. One of his most significant ideas involved the Center’s international presence and profile. Internationalization had already become a key initiative for Harvard during the same period, as well as a paramount issue for the office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs. Following his discussions with the University's Central Administration as well as with several Greek authorities, and after examining all possible options, it was decided for the Center to be founded in Nafplio, Greece. Nafplio's location, its place in Greece's ancient and modern history, and its unique beauty, along with the excellent collaboration with the local authorities, made it the perfect choice.

Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies was inaugurated on June 28, 2008 by way of a joint decision between the Provost and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.

CHS Greece's main mission is to support and promote the study of Hellenic civilization through the use of interdisciplinary and intergenerational approaches. At the same time, it serves as a base of operations for scholars, students, and researchers from Harvard and other academic institutions from the US, Greece, and elsewhere.

The Center serves as an important nexus for the network of global centers and offices operated by Harvard around the world. As the HarvardWorldwide website describes: "Harvard’s locations abroad are key drivers of the University’s global mission. They vary widely in scope and scale, but all link Harvard faculty and students to local academic institutions, government organizations, businesses, and communities, and all connect their host country or region to Harvard." Other Harvard international offices can be found in Tunis, Tunisia; Santiago, Chile; New Delhi, India; Shanghai, China; etc.

From its inception, CHS Greece was conceived, organized, and established to be accessible and free of charge to the general public, with two equally significant strategic and operational priorities: to provide opportunities to the Harvard community and to the Greek and wider global communities. Being in the second 10-year cycle of operation, CHS Greece has begun to harvest the fruits of its preparations, collaborations, initiatives, and other efforts, continuously expanding its activities and synergies in Greece, Harvard, and other places around the world.