The Athenian Assembly

For anyone standing outside of room #256 of the CFAC building, it is September 2019, but for those who have stepped through the threshold, it is 403 BCE—the Thirty Tyrants have just been defeated by Thrasybulus, who joins the numbers today for the first reconvention of the Athenian Assembly at the Pnyx after the Peloponnesian War. The topic being debated today? Whether to grant amnesty to the supporters of the tyrannical Thirty, the Spartan-sponsored overlords. The session is the first of what will be two full weeks of debating, legislating, voting, and ostracizing as a part of the Reacting to The Past curriculum, designed by Barnard College and implemented in hundreds of college classrooms across the country.

“I knew the game would work well in an Honors course,” said Honors 101 Professor Katherine Van Liere, the unit’s ‘Gamemaster’, “I’ve attended the Reacting to The Past National Conference a few times, and everyone agrees that these games really seem to flourish in an Honors setting.”

The game required students not only to participate in classroom sessions that recreated the Assembly, but also to meet and strategize outside of class. All the characters—both historically prominent (Plato or Xenophon, for instance) and more historically dubious (Simon the shoemaker or Kephisophon the potter)—had their own set of goals and motives, political and apolitical.

Encouraging students to engage deeply with primary sources and to reckon with historical issues still at the heart of politics today aligns perfectly with the goals of the Honors Program. The skills cultivated through the Athens game will continue to serve members of the Honors Knot through the rest of Honors 101 and into the semesters ahead -- and it’s tough to imagine that anyone in the course will ever think of fifth-century Athens as just another time period in history ever again.

Jillian Herlinger, 2019 Honors Scholar Knot



The Toadrunners Run the Calvin Classic 5K

Calvin Honors community memners - students, faculty, and staff - participated in the 2021 Calvin Classic 5K as a part of the newly formed Honors Toadrunners team. Jesse McCurdy and Graham Kort, 2020 Honors Scholars, finished in first and third place, respectively!

We look forward to welcoming more runners to the team next year.