Language Requirement: None
Academic Standing by Program Start:
Location: Europe, Denmark
GPA: 2.5
Program Overview

The study abroad program, Comparative Criminal Justice Studies, will be in Copenhagen, starting spring 2025. We will focus primarily on comparing criminal justice systems in the United States and Scandinavia.  Through three courses, students will learn about extreme differences in approaches to criminal justice.  Professor Scott will teach a course on the US system, known to incarcerate more of our citizens and racial minorities than any other country, in one of the most harsh and punitive systems in the world. A Danish professor will teach a course on the Scandinavian systems, which vary but are all based on humane, rehabilitative models that contrast sharply with the US approach to crime and punishment. The third course will also be taught by a Danish professor and will focus on human trafficking. The program includes two study trips—one within Denmark to examine field sites related to the criminal justice system, and a second to Sweden or Amsterdam, where we will learn about the approaches to human trafficking and incarceration in those countries. The study trips are included in the base price of the study abroad program.

This course would fulfill academic goals for Sociology majors and minors, Criminology Minors, GSS majors, Political Science Majors, and Legal Studies minors.

Dates and Deadlines
Term Year Final Deadline Arrival Date Departure Date
Spring 2025 November 15 March 31 June 6
Academic Details

Mass Incarceration in the US: Experiences Before, During, and After (4 credits)

Through ethnographic research, essays, memoir, and guest lectures we will examine mass incarceration and direct experiences of the criminal justice system in the United States. We will consider life circumstances and institutional inequality prior to incarceration, life inside, and finally we will look at the impact of incarceration on individuals and communities and by considering experiences of life upon release.

This course will provide students with theoretical and methodological tools to consider comparatively the systems of criminal justice in two contexts: the United States and Scandinavia.  We will examine systems that employ radically different approaches to questions of crime, punishment, and rehabilitation.  The Nordic system is one that is considered a model globally for its humane and rehabilitative approach, as well as for the better outcomes for formerly incarcerated individuals. The US system is widely critiqued for its punitive approach, incarcerating a greater proportion of our population and our ethnic minorities than any other nation in overcrowded and generally terrible prison conditions, with poorer outcomes overall. The other two courses with which this one is paired will focus on the Scandinavian criminal justice system and global human trafficking.

Criminology & Criminal Justice in Scandinavia (4 credits)

‘Open prison’ – does that sound like a contradiction in terms? In Denmark, open prisons are a cornerstone of the prison system and ‘normalizing’ prison conditions are preferred in the Danish social context. In this course, you study crime, crime patterns, basic criminological theory, and criminal justice policy in Scandinavia. 

This course is for the student who is curious about the role of crime in society and the reasoning behind the liberal Scandinavian criminal justice system and / or the student who wants to better their analytical skills.

Students with a background in the social sciences, especially criminology, should by the end of term have widened their knowledge with a Scandinavian perspective. As there are no prerequisites for the course, students with a social science background will get the chance to delve deeper into issues through readings. The teacher will aim to bring together students with a background in the social sciences so that they get to discuss these readings with other students. 

Human Trafficking (4 credits)

Globally, human trafficking ranks among the most profitable criminal activities. It is a violation of human rights, which manifests itself in ever-evolving ways of the exploitation of people. In this course you gain an understanding of the many types of human trafficking ranging from child trafficking, organ trafficking, to trafficking for exploitation in prostitution and labor. You also learn the most important elements of legal and policy frameworks addressing trafficking at the European and international level.

The course aims to provide students with a definition of trafficking in human beings as distinguished from related phenomena, and a basic understanding of the extent of trafficking in human beings in a global context. You will also be provided with an overview of current responses in legislation, policy and practice. Attention will be paid to trafficking in various forms as a violation of several fundamental rights of the individual and measures to protect the human rights of trafficked persons.

Course Equivalencies

UO students: please refer to the UO Course Equivalency Process and the UO Office of the Registrar Course Equivalency Database.

Non-UO students: Actual credit awarded is determined by the relevant department at your university in consultation with the study abroad office. Check with your study abroad advisor for more information.

Faculty and Staff

Ellen Scott

Professor Scott is a professor of sociology whose research and teaching focuses on social inequality, particularly the experiences of families and workers employed in low-wage jobs and living in poverty.  In her teaching, Professor Scott has an additional focus on the criminal justice system and the lives of people who are incarcerated or reentering after periods of incarceration.  For 14 years she has taught in the Inside Out Prison Exchange program, through which college students at UO take classes on social inequality and the criminal justice system with college students who are incarcerated.  Through this unique experience teaching inside prisons, Professor Scott has built long-term connections with people involved with prison education, as well as formerly incarcerated students who are working in criminal justice reform.

Anne Okkels Birk

Birk holds a Diploma in Criminology (University of Copenhagen 2007) and MA in political science from the University of Aarhus. Since 2007, she has worked as independent consultant arranging Nordic prison officer conferences (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019) and conducting analytical work relevant to prisons and crime. She's also a member of Danish criminal policy think-tank Forsete, Worked with the Danish Prison and Probation Service 2001-2006 and the Ministry of Food 1997-2000.

Campbell Munro

Campbell holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law from Lund University, and previously practiced as a barrister in London, specializing in refugee and immigration law. He is currently completing a PhD in International Law at the University of Copenhagen.