Course Syllabus

Cultural Diversity and Integration

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Holocaust Memorial, Thessaloniki, Greece. Photo by Salim Aykut Ozturk. 


Semester & Location:

Fall 2023 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Core Course Study Tours: 

Sønderborg and Danish-German Border (Short Tour), Athens  and Thessaloniki  (Long Tour)

Major Disciplines:

Anthropology, Sociology, Cultural Studies



Faculty Members:

Salim Aykut Öztürk 

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Time & Place:

Tuesdays and Fridays 08:30-09:50, Classroom N7-A23


Description of Course

Critical historical and anthropological research show that globally dispersed human populations have been in trade and other forms of exchange relationships longer than we could ever imagine. However, globalization - if ever a recent phenomenon - is widely imagined to dissolve old hierarchies and bring us closer than ever before. Coupled with the 'refugee crisis' of the past decade, the current political and popular discourses on anti-migration and -diversity have mobilized masses in different corners of the world. It is often argued that the promises of proximity and equality have 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. To compare, in other Scandinavian countries and especially in Sweden, however, the approach to immigrant integration has been very different. In contrast to Denmark’s perceived nationalist response, for instance, Sweden appears to have remained welcoming, and openly multiculturalist. 

On the south-eastern 'peripheries' of Europe, Greece has been historically a multicultural country with diverse ethnic groups. In the past decades, the country is also dealing with a large influx of migrants and refugees because of its proximity to major migratory routes. 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 Denmark and Greece on the relationship between cultural diversity and social capital, whilst invoking comparative case-study material from around Europe and the US. Thematically, there will be two points of entry into each country: the more recent public discourses on migrants and integration, and the more historical understandings of national unity. 

The students will get to develop 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, the students are going to gain first-hand knowledge of the relationship between cultural diversity and social capital in the political and cultural contexts of Denmark (and Scandinavia) and Greece (and the Balkans).  There is going to be considerable teaching and practice on the anthropological tools to analyze and competently evaluate the social, cultural, and political mechanisms that underlie this relationship.

Specifically, the students 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 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  and ‘cultural diversity’ in Greece 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.
  • Learn to design qualitative research on one of the most contested topics in anthropology/sociology
  • Improve presentation and ethnographic writing skills 

The course consists of two modules. In module one, the students engage directly with the relationship between cultural diversity and ‘social capital/cohesion’ in Denmark 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 responses to the recent introduction of cultural diversity through immigration in Scandinavia.

In module two, the students will learn how the relationship between cultural diversity and social capital informs Greek politics and society. Each student will also get the chance to focus in depth on one topic through the discussions in class and during the study tour to two major urban areas in Greece. On the basis of research into the historical and social background of the different groups, and the first-hand experiences and subsequent research into Greek society and culture, the students will be asked to create a group project on a chosen topic.

In both modules, the course approaches Denmark and Greece from both 'inside' and 'outside'. For this reason, in each module, there will be two different phases of research, in which students are expected to (1) reflect on the wider public and political discussions on migration and integration by way of specifically interviewing people, NGOs and possibly representatives of other institutions and (2) account for the historical understandings of national unity by way of participant observation during short- and long-study tours that will pay special attention to border zones. 

In sum, the students will engage with and gain a deeper understanding of the social, cultural and political mechanisms that underlie the relation between cultural diversity - both as a historical and more recent phenomenon - and the subsequent public discussions on the future of integration. 


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.
  • Tassinari, F. (2016) The Disintegration of European Security: Lessons from the Refugee Crisis, FEATURES, PRISM 6, No.2, 71-83. 
  • The social situation concerning homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation in Italy, Report, Danish Institute for Human Rights, March 2009.  



Ph.D. in Anthropology (University College London, 2020). MA in Migration and Diaspora Studies (School of Oriental and African Studies, London 2010). MA in Political Science and International Relations (Bogazici University, 2009). BA in Political Science and International Relations (Bogazici University, 2007). Quantitative and qualitative researcher with work and field experience in Istanbul, London and Jerusalem. First book, “Mobility and Armenian Belonging in Contemporary Turkey: Migratory Routes and the Meaning of the Local” (London: IB Tauris) forthcoming in 2022. Currently working on a second book, “An Island that is No More: Politics and Placemaking in Istanbul.” With DIS since 2021.


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 the wider Scandinavian region, 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 Greece 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:

  • A group presentation after the short study tour to Southern Denmark,
  • An individual midterm paper after receiving comments and suggestions to your group presentation 
  • A group presentation after the long study tour to Greece (indicated on the syllabus as a Must Visit assignment)
  • An individual final paper after receiving comments and suggestions to your group presentation
  • Also, students are expected to make a short 5-10 minutes media presentation on a day of their choice once. 


Assignment Type Pages Deadlines


Engagement Individual  N/A Ongoing 


Core course week presentation Group N/A TBA


Midterm Paper

Individual  2-3 TBA


Must visit presentation





Final Paper







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: 2 days in Copenhagen and 3 days in Sønderborg and Flensburg located on the two sides of the Danish-German Border 
  • Long Study tour to Greece: 6 days in Thessaloniki, Greece  

Core Course Week: 

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

Examples of visits include: The Trampoline House for asylum seekers, a talk with the representatives of the Border Union,  a visit to German High School in Southern Denmark and a visit to a Danish newspaper in Germany. 

Long Study Tour:

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


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 Due