Program Information

The United States in a Multicultural World

When Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the prospect of the first African American President filled the country and other parts of the world with hope. His first four years, however, have been filled with divisiveness and have not brought the change some people were expecting. Many, including Governor Romney,  thought that he might not be re-elected. Obama's 2012 victory highlights, among other things, the increasing role of Latinos, African Americans and other multicultural citizens in the United States and signals the change in population that will occur in less than three decades, when white Anglo-Saxon Protestants will no longer be in the majority. How will the country respond?

As in previous institutes, this institute will examine America's current political, economic and social policies. The lectures and site visits will present some of the challenges and possibilities of American society as its 44th President, Barack Obama, tries to unite a country divided about the issues of war in Afghanistan, health care, immigration and a struggling global economy, among others.

In lectures, readings, films, and structured discussions supported by on-site visits, participants will learn to appreciate the complex social fabric of the United States. Our institute, based at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa (the state where it all began for Obama and where he spoke in the summer of 2011), will be framed by visits to the cities of Chicago and Madison, Wis.

The two-week program emphasizes challenges, obstacles, and opportunities in contemporary American life and attempts to portray the nation and its people objectively—the successes and the failures, the problems and possible solutions.

Participants who attend at least 90 percent of program lectures and activities will receive a certificate of participation upon completion of the program. A limited number of scholarship stipends are available from the Institute and from associations in the various Nordic countries.

Country Dance at Seed Savers farm.
2011 participants at Mississippi River.
Flora lecture at Hayden Prairie