Ione and Wayne Bennion Seminar for the Perpetuation of Democratic Principles

2023 Bennion Teachers’ Workshop

Athenian Democracy and its Legacy: The Foundation of Self-Government in Ancient Greece and Rome

Greek Parthenon and Roman Colosseum

In "Federalist No. 10" James Madison warns that a direct democracy, like that of ancient Athens, tends to disintegrate into warring factions, and he suggests that a republic, with representative leaders, might supply "the cure for which we are seeking."  Was Madison thinking of the Roman republic? Did Madison's assumptions about the Athenian democracy and the Roman republic have a valid historical basis?  To what extent did these two classical models influence the institutions of our American democratic republic? This workshop will look closely at the history, structure, and functioning of the Athenian democracy and the Roman republic to begin to answer these questions.

Presentations by prominent scholars and interactive activities will allow participants to gain understandings of:

  • the founding principles of ancient Athenian democracy,
  • how the Romans developed their republican form of government,
  • how our own democratic republic is rooted in and to some extent shaped by the Athenian democracy and the Roman republic,
  • how the successes and failures of previous types of self-government can help us think productively about improvement to our political and social institutions for the future.


Date: Monday, June 12 - Friday, June 16, 2023
Time: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily; and some additional evening events
Place: Utah State University, Logan Main Campus, Logan, Utah 
Director: Dr. Susan O. Shapiro, Associate Professor of History, USU

Registration Options

Scholarships Are Available
Thanks to the Ione Bennion Endowment, a limited number of modest scholarships are available for those in degree programs enrolling for academic credit and to help out-of-town participants with travel costs. Scholarship funds are limited, so please apply early.

Workshop Course Requirements

  • Participants must attend all days of the workshop to receive course credits.
  • Prior to the workshop, participants will have reading assignments that need to be completed before the first session.
  • During the workshop, participants will be expected to make use of materials, engage in critical reflection, and participate in individual and collaborative structured learning activities.
  • A final project for the course will be due two weeks after the program completion. 

Dr Susan Shapiro

Dr. Susan O. Shapiro

Dr. Shapiro will lead the 2023 Bennion Teachers’ Workshop with prominent scholars in Greek and Roman history. Dr. Shapiro is Associate Professor of History and Classics. She teaches Greek and Latin languages, classical mythology, Greek intellectual history and other courses on ancient history and culture. She is also the former editor of Mediterranean Studies, a scholarly journal focusing on Mediterranean culture from antiquity to the present. Dr. Shapiro has published articles on Herodotus, Catullus, Latin pedagogy, and classical reception. She has also written a student edition of Cicero's Catilinarian Orations and is currently working on a study of the Seven Sages of ancient Greece.

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Workshop Testimonials

"As a teacher from a rural area, I really appreciate that Bennion is a world-class opportunity that provides scholarly interaction with top-notch students and excellent professors from multiple universities and institutions across the country."

"I love the intense one-week format of Bennion."

"Scholarly engagement with world class professors provides a rich experience"

"Critical for expanding my ability to grow as an educator."

"The only weakness was that the magic had to end, but we will take the magic with us."


Greek Parthenon and Roman Colosseum

Daily Highlights


  • The Archaic Greek Polis


  • Athenian Democracy and the Peloponnesian War


  • Socrates on Trial
    • Reenactment


  • The Roman Republic


  • The Legacy of Greece and Rome in Europe and the United States


Old Main at USU looking over Cache Valley

Workshop Location, Meals, Lodging, and Parking

The workshop will be held on USU - Logan Campus.

Time: A continental breakfast will be available each day beginning at 8:30 a.m. The workshop will run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, with one or two additional evening events.

Meals: Continental breakfasts, lunches, and evening events are included as part of enrollment in the course. There are many dining options available close by in Cache Valley for your evening meals.

Lodging: Options include the following

Parking: If you are driving to campus each day, you may contact the Mountain West Center for parking options. Daily parking is also available in the Big Blue Terrace or the Aggie Terrace at hourly or daily rates.