This summer, DIS faculty member David Possen took the Environmental Philosophy course on a field study to Køge Bay Beach Park (Køge Bugt Strandpark), an artificial coastline southwest of Copenhagen. The Beach protects vital low-lying communities such as Ishøj, Brøndby Strand, and parts of Hvidovre from coastal flooding and storm surges.
When meeting with Per Kaalund, the former Member of Parliament and former Mayor of Copenhagen County told how the Køge Bay Beach Park project was brought to fruition, sharing photos and sketches of the planning, dredging, and landscaping work involved. As Kaalund explained, the idea had initially been proposed in 1933, but was shelved for decades due to the Great Depression and World War II. In the 1970s, Kaalund personally chaired the effort to design and build the Beach Park, with the help of expertise and funding from Hvidovre, Brøndby, Ishøj, Vallensbæk, Greve, Copenhagen, Roskilde, and Frederiksberg municipalities.
Following their meeting with Kaalund, the students visited a 3.6 MW wind turbine on the Hvidovre coast that is owned and operated by a local cooperative with thousands of member-shareholders. Here, they met with Erik Frølund-Thomsen, chairman of the cooperative, who described the role of such civic ventures in Denmark’s larger strategy for tackling today’s climate challenges through renewable energy production.
The local municipality was excited to share these initiatives with the group, and the local newspaper even sent a photojournalist to document the visit:
“A key issue we struggle with in the course is how much of a difference individual action actually makes when it comes to global challenges like climate change. Denmark is a great laboratory for exploring this question because there are unusual social and political mechanisms here that allow individuals like Per and Erik to bring thousands of people together quickly—and with very little red tape—in order to make changes to the local landscape that have a profound impact. These visits give us a big jolt, and I always look forward to the debates they spark when we return to the classroom.”
About the Course
Environmental Philosophy at DIS runs during fall, spring, and summer (Session 1) each year. The course explores environmental issues and sustainability from a variety of philosophical perspectives and with a Scandinavian twist. Through course-integrated field studies, students get to experience first-hand how Danes are adapting to the environmental challenges of today.