Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak from the Faculty of „Artes Liberales” UW received the first ERC Proof of Concept Grant in Polish humanities for the project “The Modern Argonauts: A Multicultural Educational Programme Preparing Young People for Contemporary Challenges through an Innovative Use of Classical Mythology”. Prof. Marciniak tells about her research in a video on the UW’s YouTube channel.

“We consider antiquity as a living element of contemporary culture, important for the development of the identity of children and young people. Mythology is especially important in this aspect, creating a cultural code that is comprehensible almost all over the world. This is of particular relevance to education, and it is precisely this theme that we will be developing as part of the Proof of Concept grant,” Prof. Katarzyna Marciniak from the Faculty of „Artes Liberales” says.


The outcome of Prof. Marciniak’s grant will be an international educational programme that prepares pupils for the challenges of the present day through the innovative use of Greek and Roman mythology. The programme will be developed in the form of a free-access textbook with an interactive version. It will be designed by experts from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas, Australia and New Zealand under the guidance of Prof. Marciniak.


“The textbook will have a form of a game: its users will take on the role of ‘Modern Argonauts’ and embark on an expedition to discover a common mythical heritage,” explains Prof. Marciniak. “Students will learn about ancient sources, their reception in different contexts and selected mythological themes from other cultures. They will also be encouraged to engage in creative activities.”


Second ERC grant

The Proof of Concept grant will make it possible to build on the social potential of the research carried out as part of the project “Our Mythical Childhood…The Reception of Classical Antiquity in Children’s and Young Adults’ Culture in Response to Regional and Global Challenges,” for which Prof. Marciniak was awarded her first ERC Consolidator grant in 2015 (carried out between 2016 and 2022).


“The added value of the ERC Consolidator grant was the learning materials we developed based on our scientific results. These handouts have already been tested in projects such as workshops for children in an orphanage in Cameroon, a training for teachers working with Ukrainian youth in Italy and classes for autistic pupils in the UK,” explains the laureate. “Throughout all these activities, we have met wonderful teachers who are passionate about preparing their pupils for the challenges of the modern world. Antiquity is a great instrument for this, because the questions that the ancients posed are still relevant, and the sense of community created by myths is a source of hope for the future. The Proof of Concept grant presents an opportunity to develop this vision.”


Mythology as an instrument of dialogue

The international programme, developed under the Proof of Concept grant, will focus on education in mythology understood as an instrument of dialogue. It will primarily address high school students, encouraging young people to seek knowledge on their own, making them aware of their local and global heritage and teaching them the rules of communication and respect for different cultures.


The handbook will also be available to participants of the Erasmus+ Pupil Mobility Programme. Selected sections may also be useful in the implementation of activities carried out by museums, children’s universities and teacher training centres.


The project has a non-commercial character – the programme will be published in free access. Schools in Poland, Cameroon, Germany, the UK and Italy will take part in testing the individual lesson units. Given the social potential of the project, it has been supported by important institutions involved in the study and popularisation of antiquity, including the Fédération internationale des associations d’études classiques, the Société Internationale des Amis de Cicéron and the Cambridge School Classics Project.


The project is scheduled to be launched in autumn 2023.

The ERC Proof of Concept Grant is made available to those who have already received an ERC award (Starting, Consolidator, Advanced or Synergy). It aims at maximising the value of the excellent research that the ERC funds, by funding further work to verify the innovation potential of ideas arising from the projects. The amount of funding is EUR150 000 for a period of 18 months.