‘Managing Multicultural Scandinavia’ is Focus of Upcoming UMass Amherst Symposium

Keynote speaker Grete Brochmann of Oslo University
Keynote speaker Grete Brochmann of Oslo University

AMHERST, Mass. –The impact of immigration on Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland will be the focus of “Managing Multicultural Scandinavia,” a symposium being held Friday, March 31, 2-6:30 p.m., and Saturday, April 1, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Integrative Learning Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Organized and hosted by the university’s Scandinavian studies program, the program will feature experts from the U.S. and Scandinavia who will explore the present political, societal and cultural approaches to the situation, highlighting current and previous phases of immigration and debates surrounding them, to address the various countries’ philosophies, implementations and results, as well as the challenges that remain.

Less than a year ago the BBC announced that more than 160,000 asylum seekers crossed into Sweden in 2015, which is more per capita than any other country in Europe. Sweden’s prime minister then declared, “My Europe doesn’t build walls.” But only months later, Sweden introduced border checks as it struggled to cope with up to 10,000 new arrivals every week.

While all the Scandinavian countries are generous welfare states, their policies and practices regarding immigration differ—Denmark’s requirement that immigrants forfeit their valuables has received the most negative international attention, while Sweden’s open door policy has overwhelmed the country’s social services. President Donald Trump has made Sweden’s challenge part of his rallying cry for blocking immigration to the U.S.

Saturday's session takes place in 231 Integrative Learning Center (ILC) and Sunday's program is in 211 ILC.

The symposium is part of the Scandinavian Impulses series funded by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and sponsored by the German and Scandinavian studies program in the department of languages, literatures, and cultures at UMass Amherst. The event is free and open to the public.