Notes from the Nordic Summer University I

art, recent work, time-out

As July turned August, my Latvian Easter experience brought me further, to Oslo; from an intimate three days’ winter session, to one full week of intense exchange in a much larger group of practitioners and academics within the Nordic Summer University

It took two different trains, a replacement bus, and finally the ‘trikk’ (Norwegian for ‘tram’) to reach Rønningen folkehøgskole at the outskirts of Oslo.

The NSU is an independent academic institution, since 1950 nomadically alternating between venues in the Nordic and Baltic countries. Among its founders and early pioneers were Johan Galtung – principal founder of the discipline of peace and conflict studies – and Nobel prize laureate physicist Niels Bohr. Already in its beginnings, the NSU manifested the idea of interdisciplinarity; and to this day, it has remained open and playful, yet academically stringent; and (not least) with an interestingly democratic organization, free from carrying much administrative weight.

Glimpses from Rønningen folkehøgskole, run by the YWCA/YMCA of Norway

At this NSU Summer session, ten ongoing study circles gathered around themes such as Urban Studies: Between Creativity and Power; Nordic Environmental Ethics; Decolonizing Social Work... and The experiential in artistic practice and research: methods, knowledges and reflective processes – Circle 7, that is, where I took part. (The eleventh circle is the famous Children’s circle, where participants’ kids gather to have a good time too, and sometimes to contribute to the evening programme.)

Some random pictures from Circle 7

There was a full schedule almost every day of the week: for each circle, three lectures/workshops daily, followed by a common cultural evening programme, or the gathering of NSU’s General Assembly (where decisions were taken on next year’s activities and new board members and other in-charge functions were elected). In between, we could benefit from taking a walk in the surrounding areas, take a fresh swim in the river Aker… and for one day off, make excursions in the city.

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…to be continued…


Photo credit: Elina Saloranta

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