Core Course Week: Sustainability in Action (a photo essay!)

Alas, we’ve made it to the first study tour. This last week has been quite the journey with my core course class: Sustainable Development in Northern Europe. Imagine five days packed with field trips and site visits, and my course’s itinerary did not disappoint. What particularly stood out to me about DIS when selecting a study abroad program was its emphasis on traveling and learning in-the-field with classes. This week proved to me just how useful the “learning by doing” approach to education is, and I learned many useful lessons this past week that enhanced my understanding of sustainable development.

Here’s a breakdown of some of this week’s highlights, best shown through photos:

Monday (9/13): Energinet and Exploring Ribe

Started off our tour with a presentation at Energinet, Denmark’s national energy operator. Energinet has spearheaded Denmark’s nationwide transition to more renewable energies.
A photo of Energinet’s headquarters office in Fredericia. Danish companies love the UN SDGs.
Taken after a tour of Esjberg Harbor, this was our course’s first real-life encounter with wind turbines. Amazed by how tall these structures were, little did we know we were climbing a wind turbine up to the top later this week.
We ended the day in Ribe, a coastal town in western Denmark that happens to be the oldest town in Scandinavia. I was mesmerized by all of Ribe’s quaint, colorful buildings.

Tuesday (9/14): Digging in the Wadden Sea

Kicked off our Tuesday with a spontaneous photoshoot in Ribe.
We then headed over to the Wadden Sea Centre, where we learned about conservation practices and biodiversity at Wadden Sea National Park (Denmark’s largest national park!)
After learning about the history and biodiversity of the Wadden Sea, we put on rain boots and headed over to the mudflats.
We search for many different creatures in the mudflats, from worms to shrimp to crabs. It was awesome to look at these creatures close up in their natural habitat.
After a successful day of digging, we headed back to the sea centre. Still can’t get over how pretty the mudflats looked with blue skies reflecting off of them.
Concluded our long day with a yummy meal and wine-tasting at a local vineyard.

Wednesday (9/15): Meeting the Mayor of Fanø

On Wednesday, our class headed over to the small island of Fanø, the northernmost of the Danish Wadden Sea Islands. Once again, I was mesmerized by all the quaint houses and buildings we passed by.
Our class met with the current mayor of Fanø, and she discussed with us how the island has implemented numerous sustainability initiatives over the past several years. I was inspired by her emphasis on grassroots sustainable change, as her work as mayor has been instrumental to Fanø’s environmental movement.
This September, Fanø’s sustainability committee even hosted a month-long’s worth of sustainability programming and events for its residents. They also shared educational pamphlets with the community to spread awareness on the importance of local environmental action.

Thursday (9/16): Trekking to the Top of a Wind Turbine

Our class spent the remainder of the week back in Copenhagen. We started off at Lynettens Wind Farm, located in southeastern Copenhagen.
Plot twist: not only were were observing wind turbines today, we were actually climbing UP one of them. The journey up was daunting with many levels of ladders. But, we cheered each other on and blasted music on the way up, which made the climb quite fun.
Alas, we made it to the top! We squeezed onto this small platform at the top of the turbine and took in the views for a bit.
Can’t get over how insane this view looked from the top. We were staring at an endless sea of wind turbines.
Oh did I mention, we biked the whole day? This marked my biking debut on Copenhagen’s streets, which was a bit daunting at first but I got the hang of it after some time. Definitely a full workout today.
After hours of biking and ladder-climbing, our professor treated us to drinks and treats at the top of CopenHill – one of Copenhagen’s most iconic sites that serves as an artificial ski slope, climbing wall, and ultra-modern energy plant all in one. Talk about efficiency!

Friday (9/17): Local Perspectives in Christiania

Our final day was spent in none other than Christiania, a self-governing commune in Copenhagen known for its “alternate” way of living. (Think hippie culture.) Our free-spirited tour guide took us around his neighborhood in Christiania, and we learned how a community as unique as Christiania navigates environmental and governance challenges.
For Christiania residents, sustainability is inherently engrained in their lifestyle, and residents value preserving the local biodiversity in the area. While walking through the neighborhoods, we saw plenty of home gardens, such as this unique one here.
Appreciation photo for all of the amazing art that covers Christiania’s buildings and homes.
We ended the week with a delicious meal at Kontiki Bar, a boat restaurant that sources only in-season, local ingredients to cook its meals. Even our yummy cocktails were biodynamic. Cheers to a successfully sustainable core course week! -F

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