Department of English

Swedish Institute for North American Studies

The Swedish Institute for North American Studies (SINAS) conducts research, offers courses and promotes the study of North America. It is the only institute of its kind in Sweden. Founded in 1985, we are a section within the Department of English and work closely with our colleagues in American literature at the department. We offer a number of courses in American Studies.

We also serve as a resource for the larger community of scholars at Uppsala University interested in North America, and cooperate with scholars in education, the humanities, law, social sciences, and theology.


21 September 2017, 15.15-17.00

The Psychology of Presidential Decisions: The Trump Problem

Professor David A. Welch, University of Waterloo, Canada

How can political psychology help us understand Donald Trump? What should we expect of him? Does his presidency offer any opportunities for progress on important global issues, or is Trump himself a major global threat?

It is a matter of longstanding debate among scholars of International Relations and U.S. foreign policy just how much difference the personality of a president makes. Some would argue that the structure of the international system itself, or the institutions and procedures of policy making, largely constrain presidents. According to the strongest version of this view, who occupies the White House does not matter. Structure, not agency, dominates. But it is increasingly clear that personality does matter: presidents are not substitutable. Since personality matters, it is important to understand how specific presidents make decisions. Seen through this lens, Trump represents an unprecedented challenge not only to analysts, but to other global actors who must attempt to understand and anticipate his actions.

Moderator: Dag Blanck, Professor of North American Studies and director of the Swedish Institute for North American Studies (SINAS) at Uppsala University

Contact person and chair: Cecilia Albin, Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University

David A. Welch is CIGI Chair of Global Security at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Professor of Political Science at the University of Waterloo, and Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, where he has recently been working on Asia-Pacific Security.

His 2005 book Painful Choices: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change (Princeton University Press) is the inaugural winner of the International Studies Association ISSS Book Award for the best book published in 2005 or 2006, and his 1993 book Justice and the Genesis of War (Cambridge University Press) is the winner of the 1994 Edgar S. Furniss Award for an Outstanding Contribution to National Security Studies. He is co-author of Understanding Global Conflict and Cooperation, 10th ed. (Pearson Longman), with Joseph S. Nye, Jr. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1990.

Venue:  Brusewitzsalen Östra Ågatan 19, Uppsala University

Arranged by: The Department of Peace and Conflict Research and the Swedish Institute for North American Studies (SINAS) in cooperation with Uppsala Forum on Democracy, Peace and Justice, all at Uppsala University


SINAS is often represented in the media - see a selection of articles and media appearances.

Researchers Frida Stranne, Dag Blanck and Erik Åsard also contribute analyses of the American presidential election in the blog "Amerikaanalys".

Read the blog Amerikaanalys

Research Areas

A central research focus at SINAS is to explore the global relevance of U.S. culture and society. We investigate the significance of U.S. culture from a range of different perspectives, including the history of migration, American influences on the world, film history, and popular culture.

We pursue our studies of the United States by using a comparative perspective. In the 1990's, SINAS focused on issues of multiculturalism and how the U.S. and Sweden responded to questions of ethnic discrimination. One example of the work carried out at SINAS at that time is a research project on affirmative action in Sweden and the United States comparing the Swedish and American experiences of minority groups and the ways in which the two countries have sought to combat discrimination and to deal with issues of multiculturalism.

Scholars at SINAS focused on how affirmative action policies were discussed and implemented in the two countries, and why they differed so markedly.

Staff and Affiliated Researchers

Fulbright Chair

In the fall of 1996, Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Studies at Uppsala University was established at SINAS. The Chair is the only one of its kind in the country and brings senior scholars in the fields of American studies to SINAS. The holder teaches a course in his or her area of expertise, conducts research, and presents the annual public Fulbright lecture.

Fulbright Chair

Advisory board

  • Mikael Börjesson, Institutionen för pedagogik, didaktik och utbildningsstudier
  • Margaretha Fahlgren, Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen
  • Danuta Fjellestad, Engelska institutionen
  • Charles Parker, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
  • Cecilia Wejryd, Teologiska institutionen
  • Bertil Wiman, Juridiska fakulteten