SLIS students experience Denmark’s culture


Students in Denmark pose for a group photo during a study abroad trip to study international children literature in June 2014.

Jennie Barr

Seven Kent State graduate students traveled to Denmark for a 13-day, study abroad program to gain hands-on experience through the School of Library and Information Science.

The graduate students arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 3 and spent a few days traveling to Sweden and Viborg. Seminars, tours, and lectures took place in various locations, including the Royal Library School, Rosinante, Animation Workshop School in Viborg, and the Louisiana Museum.

SLIS Assistant Professor Marianne Martens, originally from Denmark, instructed the graduate level course, International Children’s Literature and Librarianship. The course was designed to provide the students with a hands-on perspective of Danish culture.

“A class like this almost has to be taught in another country,” Martens said through a Skype interview during one of the last few days of the 13-day trip.

The students said they noticed that Denmark’s children’s books are not like American children’s books. Many of the Danish children’s books have sad endings and the culture has a different take on fiction and non-fiction.

Library and Information Science graduate student Christina McTighe said she noticed differences in the relationships with children in the Danish culture.

“Denmark is a western country and it’s very advanced, both socially, technologically, and industrially. But there are still very wide differences in culture, especially with its relationships with children,” McTighe said, “(and) how they are treated and what’s expected to know from them value wise.”

The course was also designed to use Denmark as a case study to examine how different cultures construct childhood.

“It’s really great in the states to sit there and read books from all over the world, but to be immersed in a different culture while you’re reading or looking at those books just turns everything completely upside down. It gives everyone a really different perspective that you just can’t get,” Martens said. “If you have the opportunity to travel while you’re reading those books, I think it really deepens the exposure and the context.”

As a new course, the students were exposed to much more than different libraries and museums. Sophia Louise Van Der Schyf, library and information science graduate student, said she saw different perspectives by studying in a different culture.

“International conversation is very important,” Van Der Schyf said. “That is what this course has shown me.”  

With the students’ schedule being filled almost every minute, the students said they made good use of their time and were able to leave with many Danish impressions.

“We have a personal connection to Denmark now,” Van der Schyf said.

Contact Jennie Barr at [email protected].