Good Life, The: Philosophy of HappinessSummer Course

Summer Study Tour
French Riviera
Major Discipline(s)
Literature, Philosophy
Location: Copenhagen
Session 3

In this course, we examine the foundations of ‘the good life’ as they surface in Danish and French philosophy, with particular focus on human freedom and the search for meaning, fulfillment, and happiness. While external conditions may bring satisfaction, as in a well-functioning state like Denmark, we quickly turn our attention deeper, to internal measures of human flourishing.

Our course takes us into the minds of 19th and 20th century European thinkers, writers, and artists, like Kierkegaard, Beauvoir, Camus, and Chagall, who were deeply troubled by the existential conditions of despair, anxiety, and meaninglessness, but who also saw these trials as occasions to examine how we live. With them, we inquire into our relationships, activities, and commitments; we wonder about the importance of personal responsibility and active engagement, and we ask whether freedom is key to happiness, and, if so, the freedom to do what? We may not discover the secret to happiness in this course, but we do partake in an age-old pilgrimage in search of the good life.

Related Discipline(s)

This summer course would also be of interest to the following discipline(s):
Religious Studies, Sociology


Anna Louise Strelis Söderquist

DIS Summer Faculty

Ph.D. in Philosophy, New School for Social Research, 2014. M.A. in Philosophy, New School for Social Research, New York, 2009. B.S. in Philosophy and Sociology, Northeastern University, 2004. Fulbright Alumni, US-Denmark, 2013-2014. Areas of specialization: 19th and 20th Century Continental Philosophy; Philosophy of Education; Philosophy of Dialogue; Ethics; Aesthetics; Modern Philosophy; Philosophy and Literature. With DIS since 2015. Currently on maternity leave.

Nan Gerdes

DIS Summer Faculty

Ph.D. (Comparative Literature, University of Copenhagen, 2017). Postdoc (w. diploma in educational theory and practice) and lecturer, University of Copenhagen, 2010-2018. Research stay at UC Berkeley, 2011-2012. Emphasis in research on relations – past and present – between literature, philosophy, politics, gender, and the making of identity and community. With DIS since 2018.