Course Syllabus

Cultural Diversity and Integration

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Semester & Location:

SPRING 2020 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours: 

Gothenburg (Short Tour), Rome (Long Tour)

Major Disciplines:

Anthropology, Ethnic Studies, Sociology

Faculty Members:

 Stine Laursen

Program Director:

Neringa Vendelbo -

Program Assistant:

Julia Magnuson -

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays 10:05-11:25, N7-B12

ACADEMIC ORIENTATION: January 15, 11.00-12.00

Description of Course

Globalization, they say, has torn down walls, dissolved old hierarchies and brought us closer than ever before. But the proximity and equality have often led to anxiety, confrontation and violence, rather than dialogue and multicultural understanding.

More locally, neighborhood surveys from the US and around the world show that in neighborhoods of high cultural diversity, the level of trust is lower than average, volunteering and community engagement rarer, levels of voluntary fundraising and collective infrastructure maintenance are low, micro-credit default rates are high, cheating in games is more prevalent and friends fewer. Cultural diversity brings out the turtle in us. That is, cultural diversity seems to be negatively correlated to so-called ‘social capital’ or the social cohesion of a society.

Historically, Denmark has enjoyed a strong sense of social cohesion. Here we find very high degrees of trust, happiness, life satisfaction, and felt social justice. We also champion very low degrees of corruption and socio-economic inequality. The worry amongst many now is that immigration and rising levels of cultural diversity will change that for the worse.

In Sweden, a country similar to Denmark in many ways, the approach to immigrant integration has been very different. In contrast to Denmark’s perceived nationalist response, Sweden appears to have remained welcoming, and openly multiculturalist. The current refugee crisis brought some changes in the countries ‘welcoming approach’ though.

Italy is dealing with a large influx of migrants and refugees because of its proximity to Africa. The country has not yet adopted adequate immigration and integration laws and policies. Therefore immigration is not efficiently managed, especially in the height of the refugee crisis.

This class will compare and contrast these three countries on the relationship between cultural diversity and social capital, whilst invoking comparative case-study material from around Europe and the US. You will get to develop your analytical and critical thinking in this field of growing importance in ever more culturally diverse societies all around the world.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, you will gain first-hand knowledge of the relationship between cultural diversity and social capital in Denmark, Sweden, and Italy as well as some comparative material and sociological tools to analyze and competently evaluate the social, cultural, and political mechanisms that underlie this relationship.

Specifically, you will:

  • Engage with and think critically about key methodological issues in an area of the social sciences often permeated by political motivations of all sorts. 
  • Develop your capacities for critical thinking on two levels:
    • On the sociological empirical/explanatory level through a multi-faceted approach to what the exact challenges stemming from ‘integration’ in Denmark & Sweden and ‘cultural diversity’ in Italy are, and why they seem to be such recalcitrant challenges.
    • On the political theoretical level of appreciating the complexity involved in coming up with apt and viable recommendations (both strategic and specific) to address these challenges.

In module one, you engage directly with the relationship between cultural diversity and ‘social capital/cohesion’ in Denmark and Sweden and learn how concepts and phenomena such as ‘inclusion’, ‘integration’, ‘assimilation’ and ‘citizenship’ are invoked to address both ground level challenges and the psychological, sociological and political mechanisms that influence this relation. The immediate context of this exercise is a comparison of the very different Danish and Swedish responses to the recent introduction of cultural diversity through immigration in Scandinavia.

In module two, you will learn how the relationship between cultural diversity and social capital informs Italy’s politics and society. You will learn about all of the topics, but each of you will get the chance to focus in depth on one topic through reflection on the different perspectives introduced in class and on our study tour to Rome. On the basis of research into the historical and social background of the different groups, and the first-hand experiences and subsequent research into the Italian society and culture, you will be asked to create a group project on a chosen topic.

In sum, this course will have you engage with and gain a deeper understanding of the social, cultural and political mechanisms that underlie the relation between cultural diversity and social capital in order to provide you with a sharpened judgement in this field in a globalized world where cultural diversity is on the increase in almost all societies.


Stine Laursen 

Cand. Scient. Soc. (University of Copenhagen, 2010). BSc and MSc Political Sociology (London School of Economics, 2006). Currently specializing in irregular migration in Scandinavia. Research experience in the area of migration and immigration, including projects in East and Southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. With DIS since 2013.


There is no textbook for this course.

  • Denmark in The Almost Nearly Perfect People: behind the myth of the Scandinavian Utopia, 2015, chapters 1-7.
  • Algan, Y., Bisin, A., Verdier, Th. 2012. Perspectives on Cultural Integration of Immigrants: An Introduction, in Cultural Integration of Immigrants in Europe, Algan, Y., Bisin, A., Mannang, A., Verdier, Th., (Eds.), MPG Books. Peter Nannestad, Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen & Gert Tingaard Svendsen. 2008. Bridge Over Troubled Water? Migration and Social Capital, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 34:4, 607-631. 
  • Portes, Alejandro. Social Capital: Its Origins and Applications in Modern Sociology Annual Review of Sociology Vol. 24: 1-24 (Volume publication date August 1998) dernSociology.pdf 
  • Sweden: The Flagship of Multiculturalism; K. Borevi in Brochmann Grete & Anniken Hagelund (eds). Immigration Policy and the Scandinavian Welfare State, 1945-2010. Palgrave, Macmillan. 
  • Denmark; a National Welfare State Meets the World; H. Vad Jønsson & K.Petersen in Brochmann Grete & Anniken Hagelund (eds). Immigration Policy and the Scandinavian Welfare State, 1945-2010. Palgrave, Macmillan.
  • Uhnoo, S. 2015. Within ‘the Tin Bubble’: the police and ethnic minorities in Sweden, Policing and Society: An International Journal of Research and Policy, 25:2, 129-149.
  • Armillei, R. (2015) A Multicultural Italy?, Chapter 9: 
  • Tassinari, F. (2016) The Disintegration of European Security: Lessons from the Refugee Crisis, FEATURES, PRISM 6, No.2, 71-83. 
  • Caneva, E.(2014). The integration of migrants in Italy: an overview of policy instruments and actors. Research Report, INTERACT RR2014/05. 
  • The social situation concerning homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in Italy, Report, Danish Institute for Human Rights, March 2009.  

 Field Studies

  • Field Study 1: February 12th, 13.00-17.00

  • Field Study 2: April 22nd, 8.30 - 12.30 


Guidelines for assignments*: All assignments must be double-spaced, Times New Roman 12-point font, 1-inch margins. At DIS, one page equals 300 words.

You are expected to use correct citing formats (either APA or MLA) on all assignments. See for guidelines concerning the two different citing formats. Papers not adhering to these guidelines will be deducted points.

 * Detailed information about the assignments will be presented in class.

Engagement :

  • Engagement and contribution to the class are critical for both individual and class success. To prepare for each day, you are thus required to read all assigned material and thoughtfully consider preparation questions.  In class, you are expected to contribute value-added knowledge and insights, actively participate in class discussions, engage with outside speakers, and ask good questions.
  • Leading Discussion –
    • During the first module of the course focusing on cultural diversity and integration issues in Denmark and Sweden, each student is responsible for leading a class discussion throughout the semester. Students will be assigned groups and topics they will be responsible for at the beginning of the semester. The presentation basically involves an introduction and brief overview of the subject matter. Leading the discussion involves careful reading of the material and thoughtful construction of questions. The class will submit additional questions for your consideration and will commit to participating in the discussion. Your participation and (especially) your discussion leadership will be evaluated as part of your course grade. Your grade will be based on the quality, thoughtfulness, and types of questions asked; the effectiveness of the organization; the depth of analysis, and each discussion leader’s command of the material and participation guiding the discussion. You will be asked to submit your questions or notes to me on the day of your presentation, which will be added to your portfolio for the course.
    • During the second module of the course focusing on cultural diversity and integration issues in Italy before each class, each student will be asked to submit a short summary of take away points from the assigned readings and questions for class discussions. 
  • Filling out study tour booklets - when on tours you will be asked to collect information, complete some task and reflect upon relevant topics in booklets that will be handed out to you before a study tour and collected after. In your booklets, I will look for the quality, thoughtfulness and reflective insights of your written entries, as well as the abilities to make connections between the various visits, your personal experiences and the class material. 
  • Engagement also means meeting the deadlines of all assignments and arriving on time to class!

Your grade will also reflect the level of your participation in the following oral / written components of the class:

  • Midterm exam after the short study tour to Sweden,
  • Study tour wrap-up sessions where you present your experiences and reflections upon academic activities,
  • Must visit assignment. 


Assignment Type Pages Deadlines


Engagement Individual N/A Ongoing


Midterm exam



 19 Sept


Must visit presentation

Group and Individual 


 4 Nov


Final Project

Group Project and Individual Academic Reflection


 27 Nov


Study Tours:

Core Course week and study tours are an integral part of the core course as we take the classroom on the road and see how theory presented in the classroom is translated to practice in the field. You will travel with your classmates and DIS faculty/staff on two study tours; a short study tour during Core Course Week and a long study tour to a relevant European destination.

Expectations for study tours

  • Participate in all activities
  • Engage in discussions, ask questions, and contribute to achieving the learning objectives
  • Respect the destination, the speakers, DIS staff, and your fellow classmates
  • Represent yourself, your home university and DIS in a positive light

While on a program study tour DIS will provide hostel/hotel accommodation, transportation to/from the destination(s), approx. 2 meals per day and entrances, guides, and visits relevant to your area of study or the destination. You will receive a more detailed itinerary prior to departure.

The dates for core course week, including short study tour, and your long study tour are below for your reference.

  • Core Course Week: 3-5 February (Copenhagen)  6-8 February (Malmø and Gothenburg) 
  • Long Study tour to Rome: 15-20 March

Core Course Week: 

The first part of the core course week in Copenhagen and short study tour to Southern Sweden focuses on the issues of immigration and integration in a comparative perspective between Denmark and Sweden.

Examples of previous visits include: The Trampoline House for asylum seekers, a talk with representatives from the Center for Inclusion and Employment of the Municipality of Copenhagen,  a Muslim Private School & Mosque in Malmö, the Göteborg Museum of World Culture, and a visit with the nationalist Sweden Democrats to gain first-hand knowledge for your reflections on Denmark vis-á-vis Sweden in this area.

Long Study Tour:

Few cities can rival Rome’s astonishing historical and cultural heritage. It is a multicultural city, historically known as a host for many foreigners, who have in turn contributed to the city’s cultural and economic growth. Yet coexistence of different cultures and ethnicities – coesisteza, as it is known in Italy – does not come without obstacles. At the core of the current political and public agenda are immigration and integration, which are referred to (by some) as national problems and even emergencies. Migration flows are not efficiently managed, especially in the height of refugee immigration, and Italy has not yet adopted adequate immigration and integration laws and policies.

During this study tour, you will look at the treatment of migrants and minorities in Italy, learn about how immigration and integration are implemented in two contrasting parts of Europe, Italy, and Denmark, and develop perspectives on the EU’s attempts to implement a common solution for handling the refugee crisis.

Possible activities:

  • Visit the Joel Nafuma refugee center, the Migration, Asylum, and Social Integration Center, and meet with representatives from a right-wing political party.
  • Hear a lecture and have a discussion with leading researchers on multiculturalism in Italy, and meet with local university students.
  • Visit Saint Peter's Basilica and see the astonishing frescoes in the Vatican Museum, and enjoy a top view of the impressive Colosseum and walk around the Roman Forum.

Travel Policies: You are required to travel with your group to the destination. If you have to deviate from the group travel plans, you need approval from the program director and the study tours office. You are free to return to Copenhagen on your own at the conclusion of the tour at your own expense, but please let your tour leaders know, and send your travel itinerary to beforehand.      

Laptop Policy: At the beginning of the term, we will discuss acceptable use of laptops in class. 

Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:



DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -



Course Summary:

Date Details