Duke in Denmark


Human Civilization, Climate Change, and Danish Culture

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This course seeks to provide an in-field, in situ, opportunity to explore the geology, ecosystems, history, archeology, and culture of Denmark through the lens of past and present climate change. Denmark preserves unique and important geological remnants of the glacial geology and landscape of the last Ice Age. Archeological sites tell the story of early Mesolithic cultures adapting to the changing climate of post-Ice Age Europe through the Bronze and Iron Age. Denmark was part of the original Viking homeland, from where this seafaring culture, enabled by the specific climatic conditions of the Medieval Warm period, set out to discover and settle Greenland, Europe, and even parts of North America. Climate and Danish history and culture are intricately intertwined. With 5400 miles of coastline, no point further than 32 miles from the coast, and an average elevation hovering slightly above sea level, Denmark provides unequaled access to study both historical and contemporaneous examples, challenges, and solutions to climate-change-driven sea level rise, shoreline development, and coastal conservation. Being surrounded by both saline and brackish seas, has created a unique floral and faunal ecosystem that blends cooler Scandinavian with more temperate central-European biomes.

Through field-explorations of relevant natural and cultural sites, combined with visits to scientific collections, museums, and zoological and botanical exhibits, this course provides students with an interdisciplinary experiential opportunity to learn about civilization’s deep, inseparable connection to the Earth’s climate. Given this social and scientific perspective, students will come face to face with the major challenges of modern climate change, from sea level rise to the biodiversity crisis, using Denmark as their natural and cultural laboratory.


Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Term: Summer II

Dates: June 28 - July 28 (tentative), 2022

Application Deadline: Extended to March 1st

Academic Theme(s): Earth & Climate Sciences, Biology, Cultural Anthropology, History, Environmental Science

Credit Type: Duke Credit

Eligibility: Open to all majors. No prerequisite. Non-Duke students are welcome to apply.

Duke Affiliation: Division of Earth and Climate Sciences, Nicholas School of the Environment

Housing: Dormitory-style rooms, with shared kitchens and bathrooms; hostel and backpacker-type accommodations on overnight trips

GEO Advising: Request an appointment 

  • Danish seals sunbathing 

  • Windy shores of Denmark

  • Herd of Fallow Deer

  • Nyhavn Canal, Copenhagen


All students will enroll in the signature course offering one Duke credit. No pass/fail option or auditing is permitted.



Climate Change and the Human Experience in a Danish Context
(NS) 1.0 Course Credit
Instructors: Drs. Alexander Glass

Prerequisite: None. No prior course work in these areas is assumed or required.

Course work consists of field studies supplemented with readings, exhibit exercises, videos, thematic quizzes, exams, and class discussions. You’ll gain firsthand knowledge of the glacial geology of Denmark, its Stone-, Bronze-, and Iron Age archeology and history, the development of Viking culture and their climate-driven explorations of Europe, the evolution and nature of Northern European biodiversity (flora and fauna, terrestrial and marine), and the challenges Denmark faces with regards to rapid modern global warming (sea level rise, shoreline protection, biodiversity crisis).


From the Faculty Director

A detailed course website is maintained by the program's faculty director and updated each year: https://sites.duke.edu/dukeindenmark2022/

Course Content

Syllabus (provided on request)

Required Readings

The Great Warming: Climate Change and the Rise and Fall of Civilization by Brian Fagan (2010).

Supplemental Readings (course package provided)

Single specific excerpts/chapters from (tentative and incomplete list):

  • The Little Ice Age: How Climate Made History by Brian Fagan (2019)
  • Growing Up in the Ice Age: Fossil and Archaeological Evidence of the Lived Lives of Plio-Pleistocene Children by April Nowell (2021)
  • A History of the Vikings: Children of Ash and Elm by Neil Price (2020)
  • The Bog People: Iron Age Man Preserved by P.V. Glob (1973, classic but will be supplemented with more recent research papers)
  • In Search of the Immortals: Mummies, Death, and the Afterlife by Howard Reid (2014)
  • The Anatomy of Denmark: Archaeology and History from the Ice Age to the Present by Klavs Randsborg (2009)
  • After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000BC by Steven Mithen (2003)
  • The Ice Age: A Very Short Introduction by Jamie Woodward (2014)
  • Eurasian Arctic Land Cover and Land Use in a Changing Climate by Gutman and Reissell (ed). (2010)
  • The Development of Denmark's Nature since the Last Glacial (Geology of Denmark III) by Johannes Iversen (1973) - another classic
  • The Ecology of Early Settlement in Northern Europe: Conditions for Subsistence and Survival by Persson et al (ed) (2018)
  • Early Economy and Settlement in Northern Europe: pioneering, Resources Use and Coping with Change by Hans Blankholm (ed) (2018)
  • Students will be viewing excerpts of various biological and historical documentaries.


Details forthcoming.


Costs below are estimates based on previous years’ programs and the current exchange rate. All costs are subject to change. 

Summer 2022

  Duke Students Non-Duke Students
Tuition $2600 $2600
Program Fee $5950 $5950
Transcript Fee N/A $120
Other Costs Other Costs Other Costs
TOTAL (Estimated) $11900 $12020

Explanation of Costs

Financial Aid

Duke students receiving institutional need-based grant aid are eligible for aid for this program; work-study funds are converted to grants. Students are individually responsible for making the necessary arrangements with the Karsh Office of Undergraduate Financial Support and the Duke Bursar’s Office.

Non-Duke students are not eligible to receive financial aid at Duke and should contact their home institutions for financial aid information.


This program offers the following scholarship opportunities:


Attendance is required at all classes, excursions, and group events. Given the intense nature of this program, late arrival and/or early departure is not permitted.

  • U.S. Departure: June 27, 2022
  • Arrival in Denmark: June 28, 2022
  • Departure: July 29, 2022

Housing Before/After

You will need to make your own housing arrangements if you will be arriving before the program start date or leaving later than the program end date.




US citizens and European Union members do not require a visa for travel to Denmark.

Other citizens.- Pay special attention to the visa requirements for your specific citizenship by contacting your country’s embassy. GEO can provide a letter that may be required as part of the visa application process. Please begin the visa process as soon as you have been admitted to the program to ensure you receive your visa in time for the program start date.



All participants must have a valid passport. Make sure your passport has at least six months of validity beyond the program end date to avoid unintended disruptions. For instructions on obtaining or renewing your U.S. passport, visit passports.state.gov.


International Student Identity Card

An International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is optional. ISIC is the only internationally recognized form of student ID, endorsed by UNESCO. If purchased in the U.S., the card also carries with it a supplemental insurance policy, which can prove to be very helpful in the event of serious injury. You may purchase this card through www.myisic.com. Processing of the card takes between 4-15 days. 


The program faculty director can assist with questions related to program academics, admissions, on-site needs, etc. For all other inquiries, please contact the GEO representative listed.

Alex Glass

Senior Lecturer in The Division of Earth & Climate Sciences

Alayne Wood

GEO Program Coordinator / Advisor


Deadline: Extended to March 1st

This program has rolling admission. Applications will be considered until the program fills; after that, qualified students are added to a waitlist and notified of openings. Applications must be received by the deadline to be considered. Application opens November 1.

Priority: Priority is given to applicants who apply early and perform well on the individual interview with the faculty director.

Minimum GPA: There is no minimum GPA.

Non-Duke students: Non-Duke students are welcome to apply for this program. You must be a degree-seeking student in good standing at an accredited college or university. Consult your university’s registrar and/or study away advisor for assistance with transfer credit. Students who are not matriculated at a college or university are not eligible to participate in Duke’s study away programs.

Physical Demands

Before applying to this program, please note that, despite being headquartered in the metropolis of Copenhagen, the majority of this program’s activities are spent outdoors on nature, history, and/or cultural hikes, as well as indoor and outdoor exhibits. This is primarily an outdoor, experiential experience course.


Start your application early to ensure that it is complete by the deadline! Incomplete applications will not be forwarded to the program directors for consideration.

Submit the following items using MyExperientialEd

  • Online application
  • Official transcript(s) from all colleges and universities attended. First-year students should wait for fall semester grades to be posted before submitting their transcript.
  • Personal statement, no longer than one page, explaining why you would like to participate
  • Academic letter of recommendation (one)

Interview: The program faculty director will contact you to schedule an individual interview.