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The Pen and the Lens: student activists explore Scandinavia

A feminist pilgrimage to some of the most gender equitable countries in the world, The Pen and the Lens: Social Justice in Scandinavia provided students with the opportunity to meet with progressive policy makers in Scandinavia.

Under the leadership of sociology professor Kristjane Nordmeyer and art professor Naomi Marine, students on the May Term Study Experience explored gender and race politics through meetings with Sweden’s Feminist Initiative, an anti-racist and feminist movie theatre called Bio Rio, and the Danish Refugee Council. They also took a first-hand look at prison reform through a visit to an open prison on Bastøy Island in Norway.

“I chose to study public health because of learning about the Norwegian prison system and the creative problem solving that led to such success,” said Leah Weisgal, a public health major who went on the trip. “After having that inspire my studies, being able to visit that prison two years later was an experience I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”  

Visiting Scandinavia as a model country for problem solving in the states, many students said they left rejuvenated—but with a greater understanding of how much work the U.S. has left to do.  

“Seeing how progressive [the Feminist Initiative and Bio Rio Cinema] are in not only expanding women’s rights and roles in society but giving them positive visibility in the media as well was inspiring,” said Taeler Gannuscia, communication major. “I was amazed at how far ahead they were compared to where we are today with this fight. We have a long way to go, but it’s comforting to know that there are great strides being made that are bettering the lives of so many women.” 

Note: The author of this piece attended the Scandinavia May Term trip.

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Taylor is senior communication major and gender studies minor who is passionate about journalism, grammar and politics. In her spare time, the Salt Lake native enjoys the outdoors and hiking in the Uinta Mountains. Taylor brings five years of news experience to The Forum. She got her start reporting on city government for The City Journals, spent a summer exploring broadcast journalism at ABC4 Utah and most recently joined the team at The Salt Lake Tribune as a political reporter. Taylor is excited to spend her second year as editor-in-chief of The Forum further developing the news organization she loves.

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