Smithsonian Student Travel | Student Journey | New York & Denmark
All programs that visit New York are contingent on the reopening of Smithsonian Institution museums.
Explore the socially responsible design at the Cooper Hewitt museum
Hike around CopenHill, Denmark’s clean energy plant and ski hill
Participate in a day-long makerspace design challenge with Danish peers
Talk with LEGO Builders about innovation and the future of the LEGO brick
This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.
Arrival • Travel Day • Meet your student travel group and your trip leaders in New York City as the official start to your program.
New York City • 3 days • Begin your program with a deep dive into design in New York, a world-renowned hub of creative endeavor. Explore the ways in which New York’s creativity spills out from its artistic center into every fiber of design as you head off-Broadway for an improvisational theatre class, then explore how art and theatre blend temporary creations with sustainability and permanent change. Meet a local expert at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and immerse yourself in its collections, from art to fashion to architecture. With the guidance of a museum curator, establish a foundational understanding of the principles of design and the evolution of design trends through the ages. With this context, head out to experience the city through the lens of design—visit icons of architecture, explore how green space is embedded into the design of the city, and meet with an urban designer to discuss the future of land use and city designs that seek to incorporate concepts of community, connection, and sustainability. See how these ideas have been manifested with a walk along the High Line, an abandoned section of elevated railway that was converted into a public park and greenway, and then explore some of Brooklyn’s most creative rooftop farms.
Copenhagen • 3 days • Next, travel to Denmark to experience firsthand how the concepts of design and sustainability are inextricably linked in Danish culture. Nowhere is this link more readily apparent than in the capital city of Copenhagen, whose goal is to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. Often considered the world’s most bike-friendly metropolis, with more bikes per capita than anywhere else in the world, cyclists enjoy bike lanes designed with special signal lights, trash bins, and smart screen billboards with helpful traffic information. Learn how Danes have focused their sustainable ideals on everything from art to architecture to their food systems. Explore the famous CopenHill, a clean energy plant topped with a ski slope, playgrounds, and hiking trails as you imagine ways that your community could reclaim unused space to promote health and sustainability.
Odense & Aarhus • 3 days • Venture west and stop in Odense, home to the writer Hans Christian Andersen, and stretch your legs at Idrætspark, a sports campus awarded a gold medal by the International Olympic Committee for its playful, paradigm-shifting design work. Meet with the ambitious architect who built the site and is reimagining recreation and playground design throughout the industry. Continue on to Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, crowned Europe’s Culture Capital in 2017. Discuss the intersection of sustainable design and information technology with an eye-opening look at Dokk1, known as “the library of the future.” This otherworldly building is located right on the waterfront and uses seawater as a coolant and as a means to recirculate air in the ultra-efficient parking garage. Spend an afternoon at the Godsbanen Cultural Center with a local graphic artist, checking out permaculture cafes, skateboard rinks, and art studios which thrive in an urban village of yurts and cargo containers—and which will eventually be the new site of the Aarhus Architecture School.
Billund • 3 days • Travel south to the 1,000-year-old waterside city of Vejle, where high school students can major in marine biology next door to the award-winning “wave building” apartments. Explore the former textile factory, Spinderihallerne, now converted into a giant mixed-use space for theater, events, costume design, and a high-tech community makerspace. Then head inland to the small town of Billund, capping off your time in Denmark with a stay near the home of LEGO. Learn about LEGO’s efforts to develop plant-based sustainable plastics, and the important role of play in human development and creative achievement. Celebrate your journey with an adventurous day at the original LEGOLAND amusement park.
Return • Travel Day • Fly from Denmark to New York City with your group and a trip leader, then continue on to your final destination.
The local expert(s) highlighted below are examples of professionals that will join the group at various points throughout the itinerary to add their expertise and insight to the program theme.
Mike Sullivan, Educator and play expert
Mike, a native of New York, has lived in Denmark since 2013 with his family. He received his bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology from Amherst College and a master’s degree in public anthropology from American University, before spending several years designing exhibits at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and teaching English in Honduras. He has managed youth entrepreneurship programs in Washington, D.C., featuring the design and development of sustainable community gardens. Additionally, he has held a variety of exciting roles from wilderness camp director to school teacher. Most recently, Mike worked at the Denmark-based LEGO company as an expert in playful learning, where he developed workshops and programs for students and teachers. He is the founder of Anthroplayology, as well as the founding director of Denmark’s only pop-up junkyard playground, WhatBox. He has collaborated with MIT, Harvard, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Experimentarium, and is an expert on playful learning settings and strategies. Mike will spend time with our group in Billund.
Flemming Anders Overgaard, Architect, designer, and educator
Flemming, an award-winning architect, designer, and educator, received his Ph.D. from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design, and Conservation. He is the co-founder of Keingart, a Copenhagen-based design firm that creates “kinetic spaces” encouraging play, movement, and interaction, which received a gold medal for the best outdoor sports facility in the world from the International Olympic Committee in 2015. Among his other designs are the Bellahøj State Sports School, where students integrate exercise with their school day; a rope forest playground in Copenhagen; and a sports center in Aalborg that has a vertical maze and café. His work bonds urban environments with physical expression, using light and color to connect people with architecture. He has also been an instructor at the Royal Danish Academy’s School of Architecture, the Danish Construction Association, and the Danish Architects’ Association. Flemming will join our group in Copenhagen.
What to Expect
Physical Activity • This is a physically active summer travel program. You can expect to bike, hike, and explore by foot over the course of the trip. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.
Accommodations • Accommodations range from hip, centrally located hostels to small comfortable hotels and guesthouses, all with a different eye for design. Leaders stay with students throughout the program.
Climate • Summer temperatures in New York City are warm and humid, with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s °F. Danish summers are mild and pleasant with highs in the 60s and 70s °F, and occasionally brisker temperatures.
Meals • We enjoy meals at small, local restaurants and cafes with the occasional group picnic in the park.
Cuisine • New York City’s food scene is often touted as some of the best in the world. Cuisine is varied and reflects the city’s melting pot of cultures. Danish cuisine ranges from open-faced sandwiches and gourmet street hot dogs to hearty meals of meat and potatoes.
Language • Danish is the official language of Denmark. However, the vast majority of Danes speak English as a second language.
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