Sweden: Swedish Social Democracy in Action!

Sweden: Swedish Social Democracy in Action!


Program Description 

Welcome to Sweden! The land of free universal healthcare, free public education from pre-school through university, 8 weeks paid vacation, two and a half years parental leave, guaranteed pensions, and more. How do they do it? Social democracy.

Learn about the Swedish political system and the social democratic model while earning 3 elective units in POLS199. Guest lectures from Swedish faculty, elected officials, and community leaders will focus on the Swedish welfare state, areas of social policy, and issues related to immigration and integration. Students will choose one policy area to research in depth in comparison to the US (e.g., health care, education, employment, immigration).

This program will visit Trollhättan (home of our partner institution University West), the west coast town of Hunnebostrand, Gothenburg (Sweden's second largest city), and the capital city Stockholm (nicknamed the "Venice of the North").

Program activities include:

  • Tours of the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) and Stockholm City Hall (site of the Nobel Prize Dinner)
  • Field trips to museums (e.g., Nobel Museum, Vasa Museum, Swedish History Museum)
  • Guided city and neighborhood tours (Trollhättan, Gothenburg, Stockholm)
  • Boat tours of the west coast archipelago and Stockholm harbor
  • Celebration of Midsommar, Sweden's premier national holiday
  • Optional travel throughout Europe after the program


POLS 199 Current Political Issues (3 units)

This course will introduce students to Swedish politics and contemporary social issues with a focus on social democracy in practice. In what is widely regarded as the most generous welfare state system in the world, Swedish citizens enjoy universal national health care, free public education from pre-school through university, over two years of paid parental leave, 8 weeks paid annual vacation, guaranteed retirement pensions, and other social benefits. How do they do it? And will this model be sustainable under the increasing pressures of globalization and changing political attitudes?

We will investigate these questions in this FLP that will visit four locations in Sweden. Our journey will start at University West (Högskolan Väst) in Trollhättan, a regional university in western Sweden with a similar mission and student population to SJSU, where Professor Jackson spent the Spring 2017 semester teaching as a US Fulbright Scholar. We will then move to the small west coast town of Hunnebostrand where we will learn about Swedish politics at the local level. Next we will visit the west coast city of Gothenburg, Sweden's second largest city and home to one of its premier research universities. Finally, we will travel by train to the Swedish capital Stockholm where we will visit the Riksdag (Swedish parliament), meet with representatives of Swedish political parties, and visit the Nobel Museum and Stockholm City Hall, along with other historic and cultural sites. Throughout our travels we will learn about Swedish politics and culture through guest lectures from Swedish faculty, meetings with government and political party officials, and discussion with leaders of community organizations. We will also join in the celebration of Midsommar, Sweden's premier national holiday. Students will choose one social policy issue to research in depth through readings, observation, and interviews during the study abroad period, which will form the basis for the final course paper. Prepare to soak up the midnight sun and learn why Sweden is held up as a model of social democracy throughout the world!



melinda jacksonProgram Leader: Melinda Jackson

Dr. Jackson is currently Chair of the Political Science Department at SJSU. She has been at SJSU since 2005, where she teaches classes on US politics, political psychology, and research methods, and conducts research on public opinion and political participation.
Dr. Jackson spent the Spring 2017 semester as a US Fulbright Scholar living in Gothenburg, Sweden with her family, and teaching at University West in Trollhättan. She has visited 16 countries, and traces her love of travel and international education to her junior year of high school as an exchange student in Germany. She is excited to bring students to visit Sweden and introduce them to the workings of the social democratic welfare state in practice.

Email: melinda.jackson@sjsu.edu 


It is important to note that each program's total cost will vary depending on the location and the package it offers.  

$750 SJSU Special Session Tuition ($250 per unit)
$200 Administrative Fee 
$2,415 Program fees, lodging, class materials and class related tours approximately*
$3,365 Total Program Cost


* Airfare is not included. Students will need approximately $400-$500 for meals. 




Check out these additional resources for your program.

  • Itinerary
  • Info sessions