The Nansen Humanistic Academy, in Lillehammer, Norway, was founded in 1938 as a protest against the totalitarian ideologies in Europe.
The Nansen Academy offers a one-year study founded on the Scandinavian Folk High School tradition. The interdisciplinary programme is mainly based on social and humanistic sciences. Historical, holistic and ethical perspectives are encouraged. The main aim is to inspire independent thinking and reflection, as well as creativity, as a basis for active participation in society.
All students attend classes in philosophy, international peace- and security politics and art history in addition to their chosen programme. We believe in the importance of engaging the students both intellectually, creatively, socially and politically. The students stay in dormitories on campus.
The Academy is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the great polar explorer, scientist, author and humanist, who’s great work embodied essential elements of humanism: active love of one’s neighbour and freedom of thought.
We understand humanism as values that unite people across religious, political and cultural divides. Humanism is based on the unique value of each human being. Human rights, freedom of expression and democracy continue to be the core values of the Nansen Academy.
The language of instruction is Norwegian. Therefore, good knowledge of Norwegian language is a condition for admission as a student to the Nansen Academy.
- Politics and philosophy: How do the politics of today relate to the history of political philosophy? The course seeks to encourage independent, critical thinking and active involvement in society.
- Ecology and Environment: Is there a conflict between the economic system’s aim of growth and the ecological system’s limitations? What can mankind do, and what can we as individuals do, to preserve the natural world?
- Literature and Philosophy: The course presents some of the most important novels in the history of literature, seen in light of various perspectives on human nature throughout history.
- International Politics: The programme focuses on international relations and peace processes. There is particular emphasis on relations between East and West, specifically on China, Japan, Korea, USA, Russia, Ucraine and the Balkans.
- Creative Writing offers training in creative writing. The different professors are all authors who write in different modes. The method of teaching is independent writing, workshops and tutoring.
- Creative Arts offers training in different artistic techniques. An important aim is to investigate the place of art in society. The professors are professional artists.
The Nansen Academy is located in beautiful surroundings near the centre of Lillehammer, a town of 25 000 inhabitants, approximately 2,5 hours from the capital Oslo. The town has a rich cultural scene with renowned museums such as the Maihaugen Outdoor Museum and Lillehammer Art Museum, as well as the Norwegian Literature Festival. The surroundings include forests, rivers, lakes and mountains. There are good opportunities for various sports and leisure activities, and the town hosted the winter Olympic Winter Games in 1994.
Peace- and Dialogue Projects
The Nansen Academy has a long standing tradition for active contribution to dialogue- and peace processes. In 1985 former Director Inge Eidsvåg initiated the first of several projects on inter-religious dialogue in Norway. In 1995, the Academy invited participants from the different sides of the wars in the Western Balkans to dialogue about the conflict and its causes. This project was the starting point for the Nansen Dialogue Network, which established Nansen Dialogue Centres in different parts of the Western Balkans. The Dialogue Centres specialise in dialogue in divided and war torn communities, in particular in ethnically divided educational institutions.
The Nansen Academy was awarded the«Free Word Prize» in 1987 for its work for humanism, tolerance and the free word, and Honourable Mention of the “UNESCO Prize for Peace Education” in 1998. Dr Steinar Bryn, who is a professor at the Nansen Academy, received “Amalie Laksow’s Human Rights Prize” and the “Bridge-builder Prize”, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize several times. In 2011, the Nansen Dialogue Center in North-Macedonia was awarded the Max van der Stoel Award for «its outstanding work to promote integrated education and improve co-operation between ethnic communities.»
Nansen Center for Peace and dialogue
The Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue (NCPD) was established as a separate part of The Nansen Academy Foundation in 2010, and has office facilities in the Nansen Academy. The center provides experience-based knowledge of ongoing conflicts and practical dialogue and reconciliation. The center’s draws its experience from peace education for diaspora groups (refugees) in Norway and dialogue work internationally, with particular focus on Afghanistan the Western Balkans.