About the Course

Update | March 5, 2020

It is with great sadness that we have to postpone this course until 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Stay tuned and stay healthy 🙂


This summer course taught in Heraklion (Island of Crete, Greece) is a collaboration between the University of Southern California (USC) and the University of Crete (UoC).

The rapid evolution of technology combined with the constant need for validated interventions in the fields of human health and development requires intimate collaborations between arts, science, and the humanities. The ultimate goal for this course is not the development of new technologies but the investigation of interventions that can reduce unnecessary physical and mental suffering (“ataraxia”). Guided by this philosophical principle rooted in Epicurean philosophy, the course will demonstrate how successful creation, curation, implementation, and evaluation of a “transcendent technology” can provide an experience of high “eudaimonic” value for creators, patients, and health professionals. We will explore theories, methods, and applications in relation to the workshop/practicum theme. All disciplines are welcomed to participate.

Course Format

Lectures, discussions, museums, field trips, games, film screenings, and other activities infused with a lifespan perspective, compassionate care, experiential design, and narrative medicine.

The Workshop/Practicum Theme: “Transcendent Technologies”

Interested students should prepare to contribute (as early as in their application) their creative and/or scholarly perspectives on how art, technology, and entertainment media intersect with:

Spirituality, metaphysics, decision-making, and healthcare

Magical design, hypnosis, and the imagination

Belief, sham treatment, and the placebo effect

Past to present: rituals of transition and healing

How will I benefit from the course?

Students will be immersed in the cultural experience full of contrasts and contradictions through diverse people, environments, and disciplinary perspectives with the goal of evolving their creative, scholarly, and/or professional practice. Although prior experience with the workshop theme is not required, by the end of the course students will be expected to be able to reflect on how the experience may be relevant to their own practice. Students will be asked to contribute with presentations of their current or speculative work and work with each other and the community to evolve their ideas. Plenty of unstructured free time will be available to reflect and rest.

How do I enroll in the course?

USC students must apply by January 19th February 6th (extended) to be eligible to enroll to the IML 543 Transdisciplinary Media Design Practicum course.

UoC and other students from Greece must apply and enroll to the UoC Summer Programs separately (link coming in Spring 2020).

Preliminary interest and questions can be emailed to the lead instructor, Marientina Gotsis, gotsis@usc.edu.

Course Duration

USC and UoC participants will work together in-person from July 15-29, 2029.

USC students have meetings and deliverable requirements one week before and after the core program.

What will all this cost and how can I get help with costs?

USC students will have to register for IML 543 which is a 4 unit course. The USC School of Cinematic Arts tuition rate is $8,232 for 4 units.

All other expenses are currently estimated between $2,100-3,500 including airfare, hotel, food, transportation, daily meal expenses, museum entrance fees, and administrative fees.

Students may also want to plan additional trips before, during, or after the class to Athens, Santorini or other locations in Crete. More than likely, you will be catching a flight to Athens first and then a flight or overnight ferry to Heraklion. There are also direct flights to Heraklion from Europe. More details will be posted soon.

Talk to your financial aid office about applying for summer financial aid. We do not have specific scholarships just for this program yet but may attract some corporate sponsorship after we have commitments from students. If you are an undergrad, we can also discuss applying for a program like PURF to complement the coursework.

Preliminary Bibliography
(available free via USC Libraries or links below)

[1] Anyfantakis D, Symvoulakis EK, Linardakis M, et al. Effect of religiosity/spirituality and sense of coherence on depression within a rural population in Greece: the Spili III project. BMC Psychiatry 2015; 15: 173. (link)

[2] Aydin C, Verbeek PP. Transcendence in technology. Techne Res Philos Technol 2015; 19: 291–313. (link)

[3] Bystad M, Bystad C, Wynn R. How can placebo effects best be applied in clinical practice? A narrative review. Psychol Res Behav Manag 2015; 8: 41–45. (link)

[4] Harrington A. The cure within: a history of mind-body medicine. 2008. New York, NY, USA: W.W. Norton, http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=YCNoMmD7FKEC&pgis=1 (2008, accessed 11 January 2015).

[5] Lionis C, Anyfantakis D, Symvoulakis EK, et al. Bio-psychosocial determinants of cardiovascular disease in a rural population on Crete, Greece: formulating a hypothesis and designing the SPILI-III study. BMC Res Notes 2010; 3: 258. (link)

[6] Mossbridge J. Designing transcendence technology. In: Imholz S, Sachter J (eds) Psychology’s New Design Science and the Reflective Practitioner. LibraLab Press, 2018. pp. 1–27. (link)

[7] Schwarz KA, Pfister R, Büchel C. Rethinking Explicit Expectations: Connecting Placebos, Social Cognition, and Contextual Perception. Trends Cogn Sci 2016; 20: 469–480. (link)

[8] Trothen TJ, Mercer C (eds). Religion and human enhancement: death, values, and morality. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing. Epub ahead of print 2017. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-62488-4.

[9] Peatfield A, Morris C. Dynamic spirituality on Minoan peak sanctuaries. In: Archaeology of Spiritualities. New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media, 2012. pp. 227–245. (link)

[10] Zaidi D, Cases E, Physicians WS, et al. Religion and spirituality in health care practice. AMA J Ethics 2018; 20: 607–674. (link)

Recommended Media

That Dragon, Cancer (2016) – game

Journey (2012) – game

RiME (2017) – game

The Night Journey (2018) – game

Thank You For Playing (2015) – documentary film

KumarĂ© (2012) – documentary film

Man On The Moon (1999) – film

Her (2013) – film