The Nordic Studies Program at the Institute of European Studies was established in 2015. The program began as The Finnish Studies Program in 1995. The Nordic Studies program fosters cooperation between the University of California, Berkeley and the Nordic Countries.
The Nordic countries have not only largely escaped the economic issues that pose a problem for many European countries; they have also generally succeeded in avoiding the social ills that are present in most of the world. When measuring the health of a society—including productivity and innovation as well as inequality and crime—the Nordic countries rank near the top. They are also acknowledged for the honesty and transparency of their governments. Due to their position up north and tchallenging weather conditions, pragmatism in the Nordic countries is a necessity. Pragmatism also explains why the Nordic governments are continuing to upgrade their model by introducing structural reforms. They are doing all this fairly successfully without sacrificing the Nordic model: the ability to invest in human capital and protect people with built-in social services. All this has made them among the top five in almost any survey – the happiest countries, the countries with least corruption, most livable cities, the highest levels of income equality, of gender equality, of common tax-covered lifelong educational opportunities, working on reversing the effects of climate change and high participation in political democratic processes.
In regards to Nordic culture, new technologies have leveled the playing field, and the Nordic countries now offer innovative new cultural trends: crime novels, video games, healthy Nordic cuisine, and the much praised Finnish education system. Globalization and immigration enrich the Nordic cultures and cause them to constantly evolve. “Open source” cultural happenings are one of the newest inventions. Originally inspired by the Linux operating system, they are now spreading into citizen-led innovations, such as pop-up restaurant days, teaching days, etc.
With many excellent political, social, and cultural models and a population that can boast high-level English skills, Nordic countries have a lot to offer as a strategic academic research partner of UC Berkeley.
The Nordic Studies Program will support a wide array of scholarly, cultural, professional and educational activities to encourage cooperation between Berkeley and Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. The Program has the following objectives: