The Crossroads Childhood and Parenthood in Scandinavia Summer 2019 course is an intensive 3-week, 3 credit course in Copenhagen and central Denmark administered in collaboration with DIS, a study abroad organization in the Copenhagen. This course is an intense in situ sociology course dedicated to understanding children’s and parents’ lives in Scandinavia, with a particular focus on Denmark and most of the course time spent in Copenhagen. Because of its explicit focus on comparative sociology and cross-national understandings of childhood and parenthood, as well as because of its field visits and guest lectures, the course promotes global understanding and emphasizes the importance of place.

The course includes a three-day excursion to Central Denmark to learn about urban-rural differences in family life, as well as visit the site of LEGO headquarters to understand how markets and material culture play roles in the definitions of childhood and parenthood. Field visits to family-and child-centric locations, homestays, and face-to-face interactions with local individuals are integral to the course projects, discussions, and objectives.

Program Dates:

  • May 19-June 8, 2019


  • Copenhagen, Kolding, and Billund, Denmark

Program Itinerary*:

  • May 19: Depart from Seattle
  • May 20: Arrive in Copenhagen
  • May 21: In-country orientation and first day of class
  • May 22-26: Intensive study of childhood and parenting in Denmark
  • May 27-29: 3-day excursion by bus to Kolding and Billund, Denmark
  • May 30-June 7: Continued intensive study of childhood and parenting in Denmark
  • June 8: Depart from Copenhagen

*dates are tentative

Who is this course suited for:

This course has no prerequisites, and is designed for any student interested in engaging with sociology and the specific course content in an intense off campus experience. No Danish language experience is required, as most people with whom students will interact, and all host families, speak English. 

Course Title: SOC 294: Childhood and Parenthood in Scandinavia
Credits: Three (3) credits
Counts as:

Major Credit:

Distribution Credit:
   Social Sciences
   Cultural Pluralism
   Global Studies

Prerequisite: None

Course Description:

In this three-week Crossroads course, offered in Copenhagen and Central Denmark, students will gain comparative understandings of childhood and parenthood in Scandinavia through a sociological lens, with a focus on political and historical contexts in which childhood and contemporary parenting roles in Scandinavia have emerged and continue to be shaped. Topics covered by readings, lectures, site visits, research assignments, and class discussions include: comparative sociology; qualitative research methods and ethics; gender and parenting; the cultural construction of childhoods; immigration and families; the role of the marketplace in family consumption practices; education and schools; family policies; and material culture, design, and the public and private spatial geographies of childhoods and families. Included in the course are guest lectures from local scholars and practitioners, as well as field site visits and a multi-day visit to central Denmark to investigate rural childhoods and families. Student learning will be assessed via discussion participation/leading, reflection papers, site visit responses, and field research projects. Students will spend part of the course living with Danish families.

The major objectives of this course are:

  • Critically examine childhood and parenthood from a cross-cultural perspective in the Scandinavian context
  • Conduct ethical and in-depth qualitative social research, which includes the ability to: frame a research question that is integrated in scholarly work; collect and analyze data; interpret findings; and recognize limitations
  • Demonstrate recognition and openness regarding diversity in family formation, roles, and experiences
  • Understand their own experiences in light of a larger socio-historical and geographic contexts
  • Gain independence and skills in communication, time management, and ability to work productively as part of a team

Assessment of Student Learning:

  • Field Trip Facilitation (FTF) Assignments (10%)
  • Reflection Assignments (25% total)
  • Class Participation (15%)
  • One-on-One Check-In Meetings (10%)
  • Childhood and Parenthood in Scandinavia Project (30% total)
  • Connecting Homestays and Student Learning Conversation (10%)

Pre-course Orientation:

  • Prof. Janning will hold 3 or 4 mandatory predeparture meetings with students during the Spring semester. Pre-Trip Orientations will cover homestay host family etiquette, travel logistics, introduction to Danish language and culture, DIS facilities overview, the course syllabus and itinerary, student roles and responsibilities, and pre-trip readings.

Dr. Michelle Janning is Professor of Sociology and Raymond and Elsie DeBurgh Chair of Social Sciences. She specializes in family studies, historical and social dimensions of childhood and parenthood, and the social significance of space, place, and material culture. She has lived and led courses and projects in Denmark over the last several years.

Jennifer Duncan-Bendix received her MA in Dagtilbuds- og Indskolings Didaktik (Education) at Aarhus University in 2014, and her BA in Human Development and Family Studies – Early Childhood Development and Education at the University of Connecticut in 2006. She has served as DIS Program Assistant (2007-2008), and Child Development and Diversity Program Assistant (2011-present). She also has worked as a Pædagog in the International and Danish communities in Copenhagen (2008-2010).


Students will live with Danish host families (usually 2 students per family) in Copenhagen or its suburbs for most of the course, with the exception of a 3-day trip to Central Denmark, where they will stay in a hotel or hostel in Kolding or Billund. A transportation pass that covers the length of a student's daily commute in Copenhagen from the host family home to DIS will be provided.


Students will be provided with three meals per day in their host families. Students may need to prepare and pack their own lunch each day. Group meals will be provided during the 3-day excursion.


Childhood and Parenthood in Scandinavia welcomes applications from all Whitman undergrad students who:

  • are in good academic standing
  • will be continuing students in Summer 2019 (May 2019 graduates are ineligible)
  • are registered for classes at Whitman in Spring 2019 (ie students who are off campus on a Leave of Absence or on Off-Campus Studies during the Spring 2019 semester are ineligible)

No Prerequisites:

  • This is an introductory intensive course. There are no pre-requisites for this course. All class levels, including freshman, are encouraged to apply.
  • Knowledge of Danish is not required

How to apply:


  • Applications will be accepted thru Monday, November 26, 2018. This is not a rolling deadline and applications will be reviewed following the application closing date of Nov 26, 2018.

Group size:

  • Space is limited to 14 students


  • Applicants will be interviewed by the Faculty Director and an Off-Campus Studies staff member as part of the selection process at the beginning of December (on or directly following the last day of classes).

Admission Notification:

  • Students will be informed of the status of their application in early January.

Enrollment Deposit:

  • Students admitted into the Crossroads program will be expected to pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $500 within two weeks of acceptance. The enrollment deposit will be counted towards the course fee.

Program Fee: $3,700 (not including international airfare)

The program fee covers the following:

  • Tuition for 3-credit course and course materials
  • Room and meals
  • Transportation pass for Copenhagen
  • International Medical insurance
  • Group travel within Denmark, course field trips, and program excursions
  • Pre-departure meetings and in-country orientation in Denmark
  • Phone SIM card for Denmark (students take their own unlocked phone to Denmark)

International Airfare: $1,700 (estimate)

  • The program fee does not cover international airfare to and from Denmark, meals, passport fees, U.S. medical insurance, or incidental expenses such as laundry, stationery items, souvenirs, entertainment or independent travel.
  • International airfare is separate from the program fee and estimated at $1,500-$1,700.  A group flight option will be available.

Total Estimated Costs:

$3,700 Program Fee
$1,700 International Airfare (estimate)
$5,400 Total

Enrollment Deposit:

  • Students admitted into the program will be expected to pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit of $500 in mid-January, within 2 weeks of acceptance to the program.  The enrollment deposit will be counted towards the course fee.

Scholarships and Financial Aid:

  • Students with financial need are encouraged to apply for funding.  Need-based scholarship assistance is available through Whitman Crossroads funding.  Both partial and full scholarships may be awarded.
  • Students will be notified of their aid awards in their course admission notification letter.