Viking Economics: Learning from Scandinavia

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Spring 2018
Credits per quarter

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With consistently high rankings in quality of life surveys, public health statistics, educational attainment, and entrepreneurship, Scandinavian democracies routinely outperform the United States in many measures of socioeconomic success. Sweden, Denmark, and Norway all made the top five in a recent US News list of countries with “best quality of life” (The US was eighteenth); the World Economic Forum ranks these countries, along with Iceland, in the top six “most inclusive economies,” while Forbes puts Sweden and Denmark ahead of the US in its list of “Best Countries for Business”; Norway, Denmark, and Iceland take the top three slots in the UN’s 2017 World Happiness Report ; and a 2017 study in the medical journal The Lancet puts four Scandinavian countries in the top spots for best health care. The modern-day descendants of the vikings are flourishing!

People interested in political science, geography, and political philosophy should join us for this one-quarter program, in which we pose the questions: how do these countries achieve such positive results, what can we learn from them, and why do these Scandinavian models seem to be so difficult for us to envision for the U.S.? To find answers, we will study the roots of modern liberal thought, focusing on a crucial division within it. To understand Scandinavian politics better, students will join an affinity group focused on a particular country and conduct research, writing a paper and participating in a student-led final presentation on the social democratic institutions of that country. The group presentation will be substantial, and each group will design a full evening’s activities to teach their findings to the class. Faculty will provide structured support to prepare students for the end-of-quarter symposium, including workshops on student research and writing skills, as well as lectures and seminars designed to provide important intellectual contexts in human geography, political science, and philosophy.

Credits may be awarded in regional geography, political economy, and political science/philosophy.

This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in: Government, politics, and education.

Online learning:
  • Enhanced Online Learning - This offering requires access to web-based tools, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.

Scheduled for: Evening

Located in: Olympia

Final schedule and room assignment:


Advertised schedule:

Mondays and Wednesdays, 6-10 pm

2018-03-15Program is now accepting Freshman