The US Declaration of Independence affirms that every person has the right to "the pursuit of happiness," and many other countries are monitoring the happiness of their citizens as a key parameter for progress. At the same time, sustainability has often been framed as implying a way of life that could compromise freedom of choice and constrain individual lifestyles. This notion implies that sustainable living and happiness are inherently incompatible: since people want healthy and safe environments for themselves and future generations, but at the same time do not want to compromise their quality of life, they face a difficult choice. How to resolve this dilemma? This Dialogue offers you an opportunity to explore this fundamental question in the happiest place on Earth: Northern Europe. While no Scandinavian country has ever appeared outside the top ten in the World Happiness Report, and many lead on sustainability measures, not all happy countries are alike. Our journey includes Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Norway and Iceland, where we will investigate the various ways by which companies and policymakers work to enable happiness while building a sustainable future.

Summer is the best season to visit Nordic countries - enjoy many hours of daylight and stunning diversity in scenery and landscape. Our visit to each city will include a taste of the region's culture and history, as well as interactions with local organizations, scholars and practitioners.

Application Procedure

  • Application Open: November 1, 2019
  • Application Deadline: December 3, 2019
  • Application Extension Deadline: January 15, 2020
Submit to GEO
  • GEO Application: All applicants must complete the GEO application. This is the first step for applying to any program.
  • $500 non-refundable deposit: Deposits must be paid through NUPay. Be sure to select the appropriate summer term.
  • Photocopy of Passport: This is to be given to your faculty leader after acceptance.
  • Faculty Interview: Faculty will schedule interviews with applicants of interest to determine acceptance. The interviews can occur anytime before the final deadline.
  • Essay Questions: Answer each question in 2-3 paragraphs (completed online via GEO application).
    • What are your personal and academic reasons for wishing to participate in this Dialogue of Civilizations program?
    • How will the program further your academic and career goals?
    • What is your previous travel and language experience, if any?
    • What courses have you taken which are directly relevant to the program?
    • Despite having a very strong economy and relatively low crime rates, the US dropped in the rankings for the third straight year and is now only the 19th happiest nation on Earth – why? (thank you for offering your own, personal thoughts on this, without using any online sources)

Applications are not considered complete until deposit is received. This deposit will be applied to the full cost of the program.

Update My Travel Plans on myNortheastern
Once you have been accepted into the program and your the flight and accommodation details have been shared with you, you are required to create an entry in My Travel Plans for the trip. Please be sure to enter the following pieces of information:
  • Personal and Emergency Contact Info
  • HealthTravel Info: Dates, flight and accommodation details, etc.
  • Passport Details: Passport number, Expiration date, Passport Country of issue, etc.

Please refer to this step-by-step user’s guide for directions on how to navigate the My Travel Plans system.

Should you fail to complete this step as directed, you may be prevented from traveling, may not receive credit for courses, and/or may be excluded from participating in other Northeastern global programs.

Eligibility Requirements

Studying abroad requires a valid passport. You may also need a visa and/or other travel documents. It is your responsibility to ensure that all your documents are valid and appropriate to the nature of your program.

Minimum Requirements
  • Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.00
Other Requirements
  • Honors: Must be an Honors student in good standing.
  • Possible Student Challenges: Expect walking up to several miles a few times a week, on our field trips and guided tours around the cities.


The primary goal of this Dialogue is to engage students in learning about how different societies and cultures approach happiness and sustainability. Students will develop a variety of perspectives and skills on how to design and implement corporate and public policies in pursuit of these goals. These skills will enhance the students’ educational paths by enabling them to be more effective change-making leaders in whichever field they choose to pursue in their careers.

You will learn how culture interacts with happiness and sustainability, as well as develop deeper understanding of cultural factors underlying societal developments in Nordic countries.

  • HONR3309 - Happiness in the Nordics : Introduces students to the science of happiness, focusing on the intersection between economics, psychology, and public policy. Through experiential learning and reflection, students gain the necessary tools for developing sustainable happiness and increased life satisfaction, as well as enhancing their effectiveness in various professional contexts. Focuses on the Nordic countries.
  • HONR3309 - Sustainability in the Nordics : Introduces students to the divergent goals and complex processes associated with sustainable development from a European perspective. Specific focus is given to the interplay between social, political, and economic issues and environmental concerns. Explores the interaction of global sustainability and human psychology, examining how the environment influences cognition, behavior, and emotional well-being. Focuses on the Nordic countries.


Northeastern Tuition: Summer term tuition as published by Northeastern
Dialogue of Civilizations Fee: $2,500
  • DOC fee includes accommodations for program duration, international security and emergency support, and program related expenses (local transportation, field trips, excursions and group meals). Eligible Honors students will have their DOC fee covered and individual flights (up to $1000 for a roundtrip economy ticket) reimbursed. Students earn eight Northeastern credits and are responsible for tuition.

Additional Expense - International Airfare: $500-800
  • The Northeastern Tuition and DOC Fee does not include round-trip airfare from Boston. For this program, students are individually responsible for booking and paying for their flights. Students should not purchase their airfare until they receive further information from their faculty leader instructing them to do so. Eligible Honors students will have their individual flights (up to $1000 for a roundtrip economy ticket) reimbursed.

Additional Expense - Meals and Incidentals: $900-1,200
  • Students should anticipate spending this estimated amount during the program for meals and incidentals.

    If necessary, students may incur additional fees for visa costs and travel to consulates or embassies to obtain the visa. If you have questions about costs you may incur while participating in this program, please ask your GEO advisor.

GEO offers scholarships and grants for students studying abroad on Dialogue of Civilizations programs. Please visit our Scholarships page for more info!


Additional Resources


We will visit six European cities, the capitals of Nordic countries demonstrating excellence in happiness and sustainability metrics. All cities have reliable and safe travel infrastructures and feature multiple fascinating attractions. We start our journey by spending a week in Copenhagen, before taking a train to Stockholm. An overnight ferry will then take us to Helsinki, which is connected by a short ferry ride to Tallinn. Our final destinations are Oslo and Reykjavik – once the program is finished, you are welcome to continue exploring the beauty of Iceland on your own.


  • Hostels: You will be staying in hostels in city centers, near grocery stores, cafes, and restaurants. Each accommodation has a common kitchen, microwave, laundromat, fridge, and wifi access.
Faculty Advisor