• UNI students with Stockholm skyline in background

    Capstone in Sweden

  • Colorful wall at a Swedish company

    Capstone in Sweden

  • Group in front of a wall that explains democratic design

    Capstone in Sweden

  • Painting of boy fishing on a bridge

    Capstone in Sweden


This program is tentatively planned to run again in summer 2021. 

Experience the world of democratic design and the entrepreneurial spirit in Sweden. 

Students will interact with Swedish designers, entrepreneurs, cultural ambassadors, and community activists in order to gain an in-depth perspective of the course topics and current Swedish culture. Through these experiences, students will learn how different cultures use strategies to address challenges they face at the individual, home, community, and societal levels. Visits include the headquarters of IKEA!


Course Leaders

William Michael Fleming, Associate Professor
Department: School of Applied Human Sciences (Family Services)
Phone: 319-273-6301
E-mail: michael.fleming@uni.edu
Campus Address: LAT 221

Michael Fleming has enjoyed working with students to understand how issues, theories, approaches and frameworks studied in the classroom get applied and carried out in the “real world”—and how challenges and issues in the real world can be addressed collaboratively between campuses and communities.  Having worked with colleagues from Sweden for several years, he is excited to lead this trip as we gain a Swedish perspective and approach to challenges and issues facing communities and families.

Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi, Professor
Department: School of Applied Human Sciences (Interior Design)
Phone: 319-273-2603
E-mail: betrabet@uni.edu
Campus Address: LAT 213

Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi has enjoyed taking students on many design study trips in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, and Nevada. In 2019, she led led the Capstone in Sweden program and looks forward to helping future groups make the most of their study abroad experience. Her personal and professional conference-related travels have led her to Austria, Canada, India, Italy, and Sweden. 


CAP 3550: Constructing Cross-Cultural Bridges (3 credit hours)

This interdisciplinary course incorporates a variety of learning experiences that explore the cultural relationships among social values and practices. Students will gain a unique understanding of how individuals across cultures work together in order to enhance their lives in sustainable ways.

Students in this course will be able to achieve the following objectives through readings, discussions, site visits, and conversations/interviews with people in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo community and in Sweden:

  • Develop a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective on design, social justice, and family development
  • Learn how different cultures use strategies to address challenges they face at different levels of the socio-ecological model (e.g., self, home, community, society)
  • Understand problem-solving strategies and community capacity using interdisciplinary tools and frameworks
  • Understand how to use the lens of creative enterprise as an empowerment strategy to frame and assess solutions to problems.

To view the course syllabus, click HERE

Participation in this program requires several class meetings throughout the spring semester, although the capstone course is scheduled as a summer course. The Study Abroad Center will direct enroll participants in the capstone course during the spring semester. Please contact the program's course leader for more information on academic requirements.  

Students Pursuing a Certificate in Sustainability: The Certificate in Sustainability consists of 15 total hours with one required course and 4 electives. TECH 1015 (required) provides a conceptual and theoretical framework for understanding how society addresses sustainability issues. In addition, students choose 4 classes from 6 specialized content streams pertinent to their personal goals and/or professional interests. This capstone course satisfies the Content Area 6:  Social, Philosophical, and Political Dimensions of Sustainability


  • In order to receive Capstone credit, program participants must have completed 60 credits hours prior to the program's course start date (i.e. be of Junior standing). Students who participate in capstone programs without meeting the credit hour prerequisite will receive elective credit. In this instance, students should consult with their academic advisor(s) regarding how the elective credit fits into their specific plans of study.
  • Students planning to participate in the spring commencement ceremony in May can enroll in this summer term program, however, their degree will not be conferred until the end of the summer term and is contingent on the successful completion of the program and all required coursework.
  • Students attending colleges and universities other than UNI are welcome to participate in this program. If you are not currently a UNI student, but would like to participate in this program, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.
  • Capstone courses cannot be repeated. If you have previously taken this capstone course, please contact the UNI Study Abroad Center prior to starting your program application.


Sample itinerary is subject to change. Tentative travel dates abroad: May, 2021. 

Day 1: Arrive in Copenhagen, Denmark 

Day 2: Canal boat tour of the city, explore Rosenberg Castle, and finish the night at Tivoli Gardens, the second oldest amusement park in the world

Day 3: Free day for exploration

Day 4: Travel to Almhult, Sweden, and visit IKEA headquarters and museum

  • Topics to be explored: democratic design principles, democratic way of life and its connections with sustainability, IKEA's work-family spillover policy, how corporate culture influences family life, interdisciplinary collaboration in researching and creating products for everyday life, how IKEA works from family needs and shared family

Day 5: Visit the Swedish Textile Institute in Borås in order to hear from developers about the challenges and successes of revitalizing the community

Day 6: Visit Science Park Research Center and Textile Museum in order to learn about smart textiles and smart housing, and how these are used while working with new demographics and refugees; travel to Stockholm in the evening 

Day 7: Day trip to Botkyrka in order to learn from community officials about topics such as sustainability of culture, how culture is a resource for sustainable development of youth, their Urban Art Program and their collaboration involving hip-hop/creative space with local producers and artists

Day 8: Stockholm boat tour; then visits with local organization regarding course topics 

Day 9: Visits with local organizations 

Day 10: Free day for exploration 

Day 11: ​Departure 


Housing & Meals

Students will stay in hotels and hostels arranged by the Study Abroad Center and paid for before departure.  Most meals will be paid for by students out-of-pocket while abroad. Only a few meals are built into the cost of the program.  Students are encouraged to try the local foods.

Program Costs

Dates & Deadlines



The Study Abroad Center reserves the right to determine participants' eligibility to Study Abroad. Students must meet all of the following in order to be eligible to Study Abroad:

  • Have a cumulative 2.5 GPA or higher at the time of application and maintain this cumulative GPA prior to departure and throughout the study abroad process
    • If your cumulative GPA is lower than 2.5, submit the following to the Study Abroad Center (103 East Bartlett):
    • Letters of reference from two academic contacts (e.g. academic advisor and former or current professor) supporting your pursuit of study abroad. If you are attending a faculty-led study abroad program, one of the letters must be from a course leader. However, if the program has two course leaders, only one of the letters can be from one of the course leaders.
  • Must be over the age of 18 years old
  • Must meet the course prerequisites (participation in the program is dependent upon meeting these)
  • Must be in good standing with the University
  • UNI's partner institutions may require additional eligibility requirements to be met, these vary from institution to institution. Please consult with the Study Abroad Center staff to discuss these additional requirements if applicable.
  • Applicants traveling to a region of a country or a country with an overall Travel Advisory Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) or 4 (Do Not Travel) will not be eligible.
  • All study abroad applicants must pass the Study Abroad Applicant Assessment with a score of 70% or greater.
  • Applicants may be selected for an in-person interview before being accepted. Selection for an interview does not guarantee acceptance into the program. You will be contacted directly by the Study Abroad Center if selected for an interview.