UW Today

This is an archived article.

November 8, 2001

Inner Workings: Scandinavian Studies

Department Chair’s Name: Terje Leiren


Department Location: Raitt Hall


Number of Faculty: 12, including two lecturers who are partially funded by the governments of Finland and Denmark


Number of Students: 16 graduate students and 81 undergraduate majors; department teaches about 2,000 students a year.


Description of the Field: Students focus on the language and literature of one of the five Scandinavian countries – Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. They also take classes in the whole area’s history and politics. In addition, the department has a Baltic Program focusing on the language and culture of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. The UW is the only place in the country where all three Baltic languages are offered. Scandinavian Studies was established by an act of the legislature in 1909 and is one of only four such departments in the country. There are about 40 programs within other departments, such as Germanics.


Typical Jobs for Graduates: Most undergraduates double major, and the other major often determines the job. Many majors, for example, earn the international certificate in the business school and go to businesses that have dealings with Scandinavia. Others enter the foreign service. Most graduate students go on to work in academia.


Special Aspects of the Department: The two shared lectureships bring to the University scholars from Denmark and Finland, allowing students to work with natives of those countries. Students have served internships at the Nordic Heritage Museum and at the Swedish and Norwegian American Chambers of Commerce. There are exchange programs to Scandinavian universities.


Insider’s Comment: “Especially these days, the need to understand other cultures is imperative. Although Scandinavian cultures are clearly not as alien to Americans as some others, they are different. Our department gives students an opportunity to have international, multicultural experiences.”


-Terje Leiren


Would you like to see your unit in the InnerWorkings spotlight? Send e-mail to uweek@u.washington.edu for a questionnaire.