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Extended Study to Denmark

WMST 324 ES: The Scandinavian Welfare State: A Gendered Perspective

On-campus class followed by four weeks in Denmark

Director: Professor Ulla Grapard, Department of Women's Studies
On-campus course: Spring 2012
Tentative travel dates: May 16 - June 13, 2012
Course credit: One credit



Information sessions: Thursday, October 13, 4:15–5 p.m.; Monday, October 17, 6:15–7 p.m.; Women's Study Center Lounge, East Hall
Application deadline: Tuesday, November 1, 2011; applications to Letta Palmer in 120B East Hall

Course Objective

This extended study course explores how citizens in Scandinavian societies (primarily Denmark) negotiate the balance between work and family and examines how their choices are influenced by public policy. The course focuses partly on the historical development of these relationships and partly on the current renegotiations taking place as a result of economic, political, and cultural change (technological change, globalization, changing labor markets, immigration, changing class structure, the women's movement, democratization of higher education). We will be particularly interested in understanding changing gender roles, how gender structures the labor market, and how family life is affected by the activist intervention of the state. Through the contrast with European examples, this extended study also enhances students’ understanding of the gendered economic, social, and political environment of the United States.

Copenhagen has a rich and active cultural life, and we will take full advantage of the opportunities to enjoy this side of springtime in Denmark.

Participants and Prerequisites

The course, WMST 324 ES, is designed for 12-14 sophomores and juniors. The exceptional first-year student may occasionally be admitted. Seniors cannot participate. There are no prerequisites. The course is interdisciplinary in nature, and course material comes from across the social sciences and women's studies.

Students will be expected to take both the on-campus and the off-campus component of the extended study. Students who have not taken the on-campus component cannot join the off-campus extended study component segment in Denmark.

Academic Program

On campus, the class will meet once a week for 90 minutes. In Denmark, students will attend classes led by the director five days a week for three weeks in Copenhagen. Danish social scientists with expertise regarding questions of gender, social policy, and the welfare state will complement our regular classroom lectures and discussions. We will also visit several institutions in Copenhagen: Kvinfo, the center for information on women and gender; The Workers’ Museum; Dannerhuset, a shelter for battered women; a nursery school; an elementary and middle school; an alternative community, Christiania; and art museums in and around Copenhagen.

There are several regional universities deeply involved in gender and public policy research - each with a somewhat different research program and profile. We will travel to universities in Roskilde, Aarhus, and Aalborg where Colgate students will have an opportunity to talk to a number of scholars directly involved with research of gender and the welfare state. The research produced by some of these scholars is part of the curriculum we study during our on-campus component, and this part of the program is truly exciting; we will also have a chance to exchange ideas, concerns, interests, and expectations with Danish students. A visit to the Theological Faculty at Aarhus University gives us alternative perspectives on the role of Islam and immigration in Denmark.

The trip includes an overnight visit to Skagen, the northernmost tip of the Jutland peninsula, where we will study the work and the environment of the 19th century artist colony known as the Skagen-painters, with particular emphasis on the egalitarian artist-couple Anna and Michael Anker (Danish Impressionists.)

Course Credit

The extended study course with an on-campus component will receive 1 course credit. It will be listed as a Women’s Studies course, WMST 324. It will count toward graduation credit and it will count as concentration credit for students majoring or minoring in women’s studies.

Course Requirements

On campus: The course will be run as a seminar. Students will prepare written assignments on the readings for each class, and write short reaction papers based on readings and class discussions. Students will be responsible for presentations and discussions in the classroom. Towards the end of the semester, students will write a five-page Prospectus which focuses on a particular area of research they are interested in pursuing in Denmark. Each student will formulate a set of questions and discuss possible methods for finding answers. To the extent possible, projects will be coordinated with the research areas represented by the group of scholars and practitioners we will meet in Denmark.

In Denmark:
For each meeting, selected students will present highlights from the assigned readings and prepare a short list of questions for class discussion. All students will write a daily journal that will be turned in at the end of each week and that will be evaluated as part of the work for the course. In addition, an eight to ten-page final report on each student’s special project will be turned in at the end of the extended study. During our travels and site visits, students whose project give them a particular background and interest in the subjects under discussion will take on the role of ‘primary investigator’ in our interaction with our speakers or hosts.

Classrooms and Housing

In Denmark, we will borrow a classroom from the Department of Sociology at the University of Copenhagen in the center of the city. Students will stay in bed and breakfast accommodations within 20 minutes walking distance of the classroom. Public transportation is also convenient.

Financial Aid

For details about financial aid in relation to this extended study, please contact the Office of Financial Aid.


Interested students will attend an informational meeting prior to pre-registration. At registration, all students who would like to participate in the course will be put on a waitlist for the course and will only be properly registered with the director's permission after a successful application and a personal interview.


Colgate's off-campus study policy