Course Syllabus

Children in a Multicultural Context

Draft Syllabus

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Various children's spaces in Copenhagen. Photos by S. Aykut Öztürk 

Semester & Location: 

Summer 2024, Session 3 - DIS Copenhagen

Type & Credits:

Core Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines: Child Development, Education / Educational Studies, Human Development
Faculty Members:

Salim Aykut Ozturk

(current students please use the Canvas Inbox)

Time & Place:

See course schedule for class times

Classroom: TBA

Description of Course

Denmark is often praised for its outstanding programs and services for children and families, characterized by respect for children’s ideas and rights, freedom to play and make decisions for themselves. It is believed to be an idyllic moment in life - in comparison to not only those children coming from the developing world but also those from the most developed parts of the world. However, what are the political agendas and the cultural tropes that make us understand Danish childhoods in this specific way? In this class, we will try to examine both the negative and the positive sides to upbringing and child education in Denmark. For instance, what are the very physical/material qualities of space that make it an idyllic childhood? On the other hand, who are possibly left out in having such childhoods? 

Today approximately 14% of the Danish population is of another ethnic background than Danish, with the highest representations from Turkey, former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Poland, Germany, Afghanistan, and Somalia ( Are the long-standing child-centered traditions in Denmark being challenged by this rapid shift toward multiculturalism? How are Danish immigration and integration policies affecting childcare institutions, schools, social service programs, and children themselves? How are children in Denmark being influenced by adult, peer, and media representations of newcomers, especially those with non-Nordic appearance, various languages and religions, and different cultures and traditions?  What is life like in the home countries of Denmark’s refugee and immigrant children? And how are these global issues and trends shaping social and education policies and practices in Denmark? 

The concept of Nordic childhoods will serve as our entry point for examining these questions. We will investigate complex and fascinating multicultural processes in Denmark and other parts of the world. Reflecting on diverse theoretical and personal perspectives, we will examine the language of multiculturalism, immigration, social inclusion, equality, and children’s rights. A number of themes will frame our three-week study of children in multicultural contexts. They include the Scandinavian notion of "the good childhood,” the child as "being," the benefits of selected educational and philosophical approaches, networks and systems of support for children of different ethnicities, and the challenges for children from minority and marginalized communities in Denmark and around the globe.

Learning Objectives

  • Critically engage with the overladen concepts of culture, identity and belonging. 
  • Enhance our knowledge about diversity, intercultural pedagogy and multiculturalism. 
  • Discuss the different traditions in Nordic childcare and education. 
  • Closely examine the institutionalized practices that define childhood in Denmark. 
  • Explore various representations of childhood in arts and sciences. 
  • Think through voice, politics and power in the context of childhood. 
  • Observe various real-life situations for children through study tour and field study visits.
  • Examine various children's spaces in Denmark - specifically in relation to the material components of feeling and being safe. 
  • Gain knowledge on children's rights within in the context of Denmark and beyond. 
  • Prepare for our future professions and device ourselves with the necessary tools for conducting ethical and scientific research. 

Readings (Available under Files tab)

Brostrøm, Stig. (2006) Children’s Perspectives on their Childhood Experiences. In: Nordic Childhood and Early Education.  Age Publishing, pp. 223-255. ISBN: 1593113501. (310p.). 

Children's Places of Belonging in Immigrant Families of Caribbean Background. In Children's Places: Cross Cultural Perspectives, Karen Fog Olwig and Eva Gulløv, eds. London: Routledge, forthcoming.

Education of ethnic minority children in Denmark: monocultural hegemony and counter positions, by Christian Horst & Thomas Gitz-Johansen, Intercultural Education, (2010), 21: 2, p. 137-151. (URL:

Gilliam, Laura (2013): Being a good, relaxed or exaggerated Muslim. Religiosity and masculinity in two Danish Schools, in Making European Muslim : Religious Socialization Among Young Muslims in Scandinavia and Western Europe ed. Mark Sedgwick, Routledge.

Gulløv, E. and Bundgaard, H.: “Children of Different Categories”. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 32:1, 2006. Pp. 145-155.

Jaffe-Walter, Reva (2013): Who would they talk about if weren’t here? Muslim Youth, Liberal Schooling and the Politics of Concern, Harvard Educational Review 83 (4), pgs. 613-635. 

MacNaughton, Glenda (2005): Doing Foucault in Early Childhood Studies: Applying post structuralist ideas, Routledge, Oxon. 

Parekh, B. (2000) Rethinking Multiculturalism. Cultural Diversity and Political Theory. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, chapter 5, pp.142-178.  ISBN: 0-333-60882-8 (379p.)

Olwig, KF 2011, ' Children's Sociality: The Civilizing Project in the Danish Kindergarten ', Social Analysis , vol 55, nr. 2, s. 121-141.

The Question of Integration: Immigration, Exclusion and the Danish Welfare State (2011), Eds. Karen Fog Olwig and Karsten Paerregaard, Cambridge Scholars, UK (Introduction, chapter 7 and epilogue by Jenkins)

Wagner, J. T. (2006): “Fishing Naked – Nordic Early Childhood Philosophy and Practice in Nordic Childhoods and Early Education.  Information Age Publishing.  ISBN: 978-1593113506 (324p.)


Salim Aykut Öztürk

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.

Approach to Teaching

I have a non-punitive approach to teaching. If you attend my class, I understand that you choose to be in my class - that is; all readings are provided for you to read and all the activities are designed for you to explore the most of this course's objectives. It is up to you to decide and become a spectator or an active participant. There are rules and regulations we are all expected to follow in class and during our study trips - and I will draw our attention to those whenever necessary - and I expect the students to respect those not because they feel fear but because they know that the course is designed in a specific way to inspire them. 

We will have a combination of lectures, class activities, exercises, fieldwork, experiential learning, team work and presentations. You will be still expected to complete all reading assignments thoroughly and critically prior to coming to class so that you can contribute to class discussion and group activities. It is recommended that you keep a journal/logbook for reflective work after the practicum visits. In this course, we will take a lot of time on bringing about "thick description" in a way to locate our scientific analysis in relation to our  prejudices and subject positions. This is also why I strongly encourage the students to use the I-pronoun (whenever and wherever they feel comfortable about it).  

Expectations of the Students

All students are expected to be independent learners/thinkers, attentive observers and critical researchers. The academic content of the lectures will be substantial but the learning objective is primarily to translate that academic knowledge into usable applicable knowledge using Copenhagen and London as urban laboratories. Students are expected to conduct individual observation exercises, as well as story telling exercises and what-if-scenario assignments. Students are expected to be creative and imaginative in relation to the exercises and assignments as well as sensible and sensitive in relation to lectures and field trips. There are times to discuss and create and there are times to look and listen.

Team spirit: All students are expected to be helpful and pay attention to your fellow classmates, especially in relation of the field trips and observation exercises.  Sharing information and experiences is very much encouraged in class room: together we know more.




You are expected to attend all DIS classes when scheduled. If you miss two classes the Director of Teaching and Learning, and the Director of Student Affairs will be notified and they will follow-up with you to make sure that all is well. Absences will jeopardize your grade and your standing at DIS. Allowances will be made in cases of illness, but you will need to provide a doctor’s note.

Academic Honesty

DIS expects that students abide by the highest standards of intellectual honesty in all academic work. DIS assumes that all students do their own work and credit all work or thought taken from others. Academic dishonesty will result in a final course grade of “F” and can result in dismissal. The students’ home universities will be notified. DIS reserves the right to request that written student assignments be turned in electronic form for submission to plagiarism detection software. See the Academic Handbook for more information, or ask your instructor if you have questions.

Electronic Devices in the Classroom

The use of electronic devices is restricted to note-taking during lectures and field studies.

Assignments and Late Policy

Our priority for assignments is for students to gain knowledge and master skills that will make you adept at understanding the visuality of the urban environment around you. The assignments reflect topics covered in class.

The professor aims to assist you in mastering these skills through personal feedback and/or class discussions with each assignment. Both will be critical to your success throughout the semester. Assignments that are not submitted by the due date will receive a grade deduction.

Disability resources

Any student who has a need for disability accommodations should contact the Office of Academic Support ( to coordinate this. Upon DIS approval, students should inform the instructor of accommodations within the first 2 weeks of class.

Class Schedule
This schedule (including required reading) is subject to change.

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