Academics at DIS

I know I’ve talked a lot about my core course, but I wanted to take this post to talk about my other classes as well as academic life at DIS. In addition to my core course, I am taking four other classes:

I love taking a range of classes because I never get tired of the material. In addition, I get to learn about Copenhagen and Scandinavia through my classes, which is a great supplement to not taking Danish Language and Culture (languages are not my strong suite, so I was more inclined to take classes on the cultural aspects of Denmark and Scandinavia).

For example, in my Criminal Justice class, I do a lot of comparative work between different Scandinavian criminal justice policies and U.S. policies. I’ve learned a lot about open prisons in Denmark, which I had never heard of before. Unlike in the U.S., a majority of Danish citizens who get convicted of crimes serve less time in prison. Moreover, these prisons can take on different forms, such as the open prison. These prisons grant their inmates relatively more freedom as inmates are able to go off the grounds for work and classes and they are given money to buy groceries.  This prison is symbolic of the Danish criminal justice system’s emphasis on resocialization, meaning they want inmates to be able to seamlessly reenter society by creating a life inside prison that closely resembles the real world.

In addition to studying Danish case studies to learn about sentencing and punishment, we watch documentaries and participate in group work to think about how we would act as policy-makers. Next week I’ll be visiting an open prison outside of Copenhagen with my class, which will be a really interesting experience. My professor, Anne, has a lot of knowledge about the criminal justice system here in Denmark, since her dad was a prison ward. Also, she brings us snacks.

One of my favorite classes is the History of Sexuality in Europe. Not only in my professor, Sara, amazing, kind, and funny, but the material is super engaging. I’m always excited for this class because it’s a mix of lecture where Sara gives us background info, that then leads into a class conversation on readings. We are encouraged to talk about our own experiences, which results in a very safe and open classroom environment. While we focus on historical events – like the AIDs crisis in the 80s and the sexual liberation efforts form the 40s-70s – we also do a lot of contemporary work. For example, we watch music videos and TV shows to understand how sexuality and identities are displayed in popular culture.

A class I decided to take that I have no prior experience in is Travel Writing. This workshop-based class has taught me how to critically think about travel writing and apply those learning into my own stories. I’ve had to interview a tattoo-artists, a drag queen/teacher, and some locals at a bar in Budapest. All of those experiences were super rememberable as I was pushed outside of my comfort zone and got to ask personal questions to complete strangers. In addition, this class has pushed me to challenge stereotypes and narratives presented in writing and our everyday life.

My last elective class is Urban Livability, which is taught by the same professor as my core course. While this class overlaps in material with my core course, it focuses more closely on what makes cities livable. We’ve looked at sustainability, gender equality, transportation, creativity, and happiness all within the city sphere. I’ve loved our field studies for this class as we got to go to the Louisiana Museum to see an exhibit on affordable housing and go a bike tour of the harbor ring in Copenhagen. Because of this class, I’ve grown really interested in the idea of livability in terms of accessibility, sustainability, and resiliency as this combines the physical, social, and economic aspects of city life.

There’s a strong emphasis on participation and collaboration in all of my classes at DIS. In all of my classes, participation is a big part of our grade, and there are a lot of opportunities in class to reflect on the readings and share personal experiences. I have also had several group projects in my classes, which have been a great opportunity to get to know my classmates better. In history of Sexuality, we had a project where we created our ideal sexual education curriculum. This involved what material we wanted to cover, who should teach, how often and the duration of these lessons, and the overall values that this curriculum would promote. For my Urban Livability class, we presented a guide to urban gardens across Copenhagen and also had to conduct research in public spaces in the city, noting who was staying in the space, what they were doing, and how long they stayed.

My maps and assessment of Isreal Plads using Gehl’s 12 Key Quality Criteria for my Urban Livability class

I’ve really enjoyed my classes at DIS, as the professor are all super friendly and I’ve been able to make friends in my classes, which is not always doable back at my home institution. Moreover, the workload is very doable. The readings are interesting and used effectively in the classroom. I’ve had several assignments over the course of the semester, all of which have been creative and manageable. For example, for my core course, I created a bike tour for Budapest where I mapped out a route and identified points of interest. For my criminal justice class, I utilized my critical thinking skills to manipulate data for different points of views.  

As the semester winds down (which is C-R-A-Z-Y), I’m started to work on my final assignments. While DIS has an official finals period, most of my works include reflection papers about my learnings from the semester. So, I am able to take time to think and reflect about my experiences and growth over the course of this semester, rather than cram for exams or stress out about 15-page papers.

If any of you are thinking about studying with DIS and have more questions about Academics, I’d be happy to answer your questions. Please feel free to visit my contact me page and ask!

Until next time,

Anthea

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