Danish Institute for Study Abroad
Established 1959 Director Anders Uhrskov Academic staff ~120 Admin. staff ~80 Students 650-790 (2010) Location Copenhagen, Denmark Affiliations University of Copenhagen Website http://www.dis.dk
DIS – Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) is a Danish study abroad program, founded in 1959, affiliated with the University of Copenhagen and funded in part by the Danish government. It is a non-profit organization promoting international university-level education and exchange. All classes are taught in English in three buildings on Vestergade in central Copenhagen.
The Danish Institute for Study Abroad is known for providing both an academically challenging and hands-on education with international students regularly involved in practical exercises that complement their study program. Students at DIS can choose single semester or full-year programs, while a shorter summer program is also an option. Currently DIS offers 15 academic programs encompassing over 150 courses taught across a wide range of majors. Courses are designed for upper-level undergraduates (3rd-4th year) but some DIS programs also admit graduate students.
A fairly unique feature of the Danish Institute for Study Abroad’s program is the inclusive Academic Study Tours, where students travel to academically relevant areas in Denmark or another European country to enhance their theoretical studies. These tours are credit-bearing, faculty-led, course-integrated academic tours, while students often choose to participate in other optional Study Tours or Adventure Tours or Day Trips organized by DIS.
Most students participating in the program are North American, with the vast majority from the US. DIS has over 160 partner universities (though students from other establishments are admitted) including: Columbia University, Cornell University, Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Brown University, Providence College, Pratt Institute, Goucher College, Knox College and Carleton College.
The program is organized around core themed academic programs across a wide variety of disciplines including international business and architecture. Instructors at DIS are sourced from Danish academia, as well as from the public and private sectors, where industry experts teach classes according to their expertise. A number of visiting professors from US universities, also teach classes at DIS.
DIS lecturers comprise a part-time faculty with most holding full-time positions in academia, government, business and the professions. The faculty is mostly Danish. Every fall, DIS invites some 25 instructors to participate in a ‘Danish Educators Workshop’ at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Teaching and Learning Services for training in modern teaching techniques focusing on student learning outcomes.
Programs and courses
DIS offers more than 120 academic courses spread across 14 different programs, all taught through English. The curriculum includes contemporary academic topics, such as the environment, ethnicity, inequality, urban issues, design, gender, child development and health care. DIS programs consist of a program core course and two course-integrated program study tours, usually a brief Danish study tour and a longer study tour to Europe.
DIS admits around 700 US students per semester. Most courses are 3 credits, while a few carry 1 or 6. Students must take at least 12 credits and may take up to 18, including no more than five 3-credit classes (or three 3-credit and one 6-credit class). All courses are designed for upper-division students, with the exception of Danish Language and Culture.
Programs at DIS are: Architecture & Design, Biotechnology & Biomedicine, Child Diversity & Development, Communication & Mass Media, European Culture & History, European Politics, Global Economics, Justice & Human Rights, International Business, Medical Practice & Policy, Migration & Conflict, Pre-Architecture, Psychology, Public Health, and Sustainability in Europe.
DIS places significant emphasis on program study tours as a fully integrated component of the academic program. Study tours are one of three types of tours offered, with optional study tours and outdoor adventure trips also organized by DIS. Participation in the program study tours is required, while optional study tours and outdoor adventure trips are optional. The program study tours involve visits to course-relevant sites such as famous art collections, European Union institutions, multinational companies, schools and kindergartens, architecture and design projects, university hospitals, media headquarters and NGOs.
The student body at DIS is mostly North American, but some students come from a few other countries. More than 700 students enroll at DIS in a typical semester. Of these, around 15 percent stay for the year. Summer enrollment is approximately 300-400 in the early as well as the late program. The average incoming GPA is an average 3.4. The female/male ratio is 59/41, and the private/state university ratio 80/20. On average, about 120 universities are represented in the program each semester. Courses are designed for upper-level undergraduates (3rd-4th year). Some DIS programs also admit graduate students.
Partner universities and admittance
DIS works in partnership with approximately 165 universities. 92% of enrollment comes from Partner institutions, of whom 79% are ‘most’ or ‘more selective’ institutions according to US News & World Report. DIS also works with non-Partner Institutions. Normally, a cumulative B average (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) is required, though applicants not meeting this requirement may be considered. A Partner approves DIS and forms a formal relationship through a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Partners are not obligated to send any specific number of students to DIS, and no fee is charged to obtain or maintain partner status. After a MoU is signed, DIS and the Partner university establish a mutual understanding of each institution’s expectations and requirements in regard to academics, admissions and administration.
The DIS application process varies by university. Most students apply to DIS directly from their home campus, typically through the study abroad office. Other students apply directly to DIS on a rolling basis, with deadlines of mid-April (summer), mid-May (fall/year) and mid-November (spring).
DIS students choose from a number of different housing options designed for various degrees of cross-cultural interaction with Danes, from maximum immersion (living with Danish host families) to minimum (DIS Residential Communities). Students live scattered around greater Copenhagen, which promotes integration into Danish society. Housing options arranged by DIS include: Host family stay (students stay with a Danish family), Kollegium (student residence hall), folkehøjskole (living on a liberal arts college campus with Danes between the ages of 19-25), Danish roommate (rented furnished room in an apartment), and DIS Residential Communities (DIS shared student residences).
Student life and cultural integration
Students at DIS are given several ways to integrate culturally and socially into Copenhagen and Denmark. The DIS Buddy Network initiative pairs students with young Danes to improve social understanding, while organized Intercultural negotiation games focus on negotiation competences, international leadership skills, and cross-cultural awareness. The Visiting Family Program gives students the chance to experience Danish family traditions and values, outside of the Family Stay Option. Students are also encouraged to join a volunteering program where they become involved in local organizations in Copenhagen that focus on the integration of immigrant youth and adults into Danish society, education through English, NGO work or social projects for the homeless. A sports program is also available, where students participate with local Copenhageners, while DIS stages a variety of different activities, ranging from an International Club that organizes international events over the semester, a DIS choir, a Film Club, café nights, beer tastings, cooking courses, and so on.
Founded in 1959, DIS – Danish Institute for Study Abroad is a Danish non-profit educational foundation governed by an external board of directors. It is tuition driven, but receives a subsidy from the Danish government. DIS is recognized by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation which appoints 3 members of the governing board. Remaining members are selected by the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, and the DIS faculty and staff (1 member each). An elected DIS faculty committee oversees consistency of quality, content and structure of the curriculum. DIS is recognized and subsidized by the Danish government, and governed by an external board of directors.
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