Oh, what awaits you! The long days and cool nights overlooking the fjord in Oslo, the slap of the waves on the canal walls outside the front door of Bethel Hotel in Copenhagen, and the quaint shops and cobblestone streets of Gamla stan in Stockholm, harken as you prepare to explore Scandinavia. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the history, majesty, and culture of the Nordic countries as you fly, float, bus, train, and walk through an unforgettable expedition. I am excited to be one of your “sociological tour guides” as we ask why Scandinavians are the happiest people on the planet. Therefore, I challenge you to consider this question each day as you compare and contrast the beliefs, values, norms, and material artifacts of Scandinavians with the American culture. Let’s leave ethnocentric views, (the belief that one’s culture is superior to others) at the DFW airport and critically analyze the social structures and conditions that provide the framework for three nations that emphasize equality and egalitarianism, which seemingly correlates with happiness at the societal level. Yes, we are “vacationing” but realize every encounter with a person or place is an educational piece of the puzzle that will ultimately reveal a component of the answer to our question. Thanks for letting an old sociologist tag along with you and hopefully I can augment your experience with a few insights into one of my favorite destinations on our planet. Best, Dr. W.
Between July 17 and August 1, 2016, 16 TCU Chancellor’s Scholars will explore Oslo, Norway, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden. Check back here to follow the journey.