Grant from Nordplus Horizontal

The Nordic Summer University has received a Nordplus Horizontal grant of 33.000 € for the project “The Nordic Summer University: Sharing and Developing Experience of 70 Years of Democratic Education”. We are looking forward to meeting in person again in Winter/Spring 2022 and are looking forward to interesting discussions and an exciting NSU Winter Symposia 2022.

The Nordic Summer University is an organisation led by volunteers. Each study circle is led by two or three leaders in their respective fields, who for three years commit to organise symposia in the Nordic and Baltic region (and beyond!) around one specific interdisciplinary topic. With this grant, in addition to the voluntary work put in by the study circle coordinators and NSU board members, several study circles will be able to fund participants and cover other costs involved with organising these symposia.

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Happy Funding News!

We are happy to convey the fantastic news that NSU has received yet another grant, this time from the Swedish Kungliga VItterhetsakademien! This makes it possible for NSU to add further ad hoc circles and continue offering traveling grants and scholarships. It will also make it possible for us to continue developing on ideas for new funding strategies, as well as hopefully reaching new NSU members. In addition, it feels great to know that there are funders who are willing to support NSU and what we do! There is hope for the future! The grants should encourage all members to engage with NSU and see to it that the money is well used.

Picture from the General Assembly 2021, during the October Session

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Grant from Swedish Academy

Today we received some great news. The Swedish Academy (Svenska akademin) has confirmed they offer the Nordic Summer University (NSU) a grant for the year 2022.

This grant will cover some of the costs towards the activities of the Nordic Summer University: the winter symposia and the summer session that combines several symposia. It will mostly go to the grant and scholarship program that is a core element of NSU: to realize our goal of making sure people with less economic means can also attend our activities. Another part is reserved for a special Baltic and West-Nordic travel program, to support people traveling from those areas to the NSU summer session.

After nearly two years of functioning completely online due to the pandemic, and after one year of having no external funding, as our previous funder canceled our long-term connection, this is most welcome news.

The Nordic Summer University is a voluntary organisation that organises around study circles. Presently there are nine study circle, and each study circle organises symposia for three years, around one specific topic – from Nordic Environmental Ethics to Bildung in Times of the Anthropocene, from Artistic Research to Feminist Philosophy and many other. This new grant from the Swedish Academy will enable us to invite new study circles to apply for funding.

This includes joining the NSU network right now by organizing a one-year program that would include a winter symposium and a symposium during the NSU Summer Session 2022. Information about application for new one-year (ad hoc) circle proposals will be sent out shortly. Please sign up for the NSU Newsletter to get the information as it becomes available.

In the meantime October 2021 is coming to an end, which means also the end of the 2021 October ‘Summer’ Session is coming to an end. There were many successful symposia, mostly online, for one or more days this month. Join us for the second meeting of the General Assembly still coming up this Saturday 30 October.

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Nordic Feminism Reconsidered – paper published about NSU by Valgerður Pálmadóttir & Johanna Sjöstedt

The Nordic Summer University started in 1950, as a place where people from different backgrounds could meet to explore new fields of interest. Valgerður Pálmadóttir & Johanna Sjöstedt, two coordinators of the NSU study circle on Feminist Philosophy; Time, history and the Transformation of Thought (that ran from 2017 to 2019), have researched the platform NSU provided for the development of women’s research.

Nordic Feminism Reconsidered: Activism, Scholarly Endeavours and Women’s Research Networks at the Nordic Summer University 1971–1990

In this article, we explore the Nordic Summer University (NSU), an independent and migratory scholarly organisation, as a platform for interaction and cooperation for the new women’s movements and an arena for the development of women’s research in the Nordic region. In several accounts, NSU is described as a pivotal context for the development of Nordic women’s and feminist research and frequently appears in memoirs by pioneers in the field, but it has never been the direct object of scholarly focus. In recent years, there has been a scholarly debate about the historical narratives concerning the history of academic feminism in the Nordic region, where both the connection to the new women’s movements in the 1970s and the notion of the ‘Nordic’ have been contested. This article intervenes in these discussions by exploring the ‘women’s circles’ within NSU as they appear in various sources such as historiographical accounts, reports and memoirs and thereby, thereby defending a hands-on archival approach. We argue that focusing on an alternative international institution for knowledge production such as NSU offers valuable insights into how feminism as a social movement and a scholarly project – politics and academic endeavours – have been negotiated.

Valgerður Pálmadóttir & Johanna Sjöstedt (2021) Nordic Feminism Reconsidered: Activism, Scholarly Endeavours and Women’s Research Networks at the Nordic Summer University 1971–1990, NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, DOI: 10.1080/08038740.2021.1973557

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General Assembly 2021 – are you a delegate?

Dear members and friends of the Nordic Summer University!!

What is a General Assembly? And why go to all that trouble? Why would I be interested? What can I expect when I become a delegate? Why is it important to be(come) a delegate? (And: YES! Where do I sign up?!!)

What is a General Assembly?

The Nordic Summer University started in 1950, and up to this day has been a self-organising, mostly hierarchical organisation. There are coordinators for each study circle who organise the symposia, there is a Board who manages the day-to-day affairs, and there is… the General Assembly. The General Assembly (GA) is the highest organ, making all decisions. It is made up of all the NSU members… the members together choose delegates (41 delegates in total). All NSU members are welcome to attend the GA, and can speak and be heard. Only the delegates get to vote. They get to vote for the new study program 2022 (which circles will be part of it??!!), decide on the budget for 2022, and also approve the (financial) reporting from 2020. And they will decide who is to be on the Board in 2022. (And some other things.)

But why go to all that trouble?

Democracy isn’t easy, but it is a nice way to make sure an organisation keeps in touch with the changes in society. NSU aims to “support the development of emerging research initiatives and communities” (NSU statutes), and to do that the community itself needs to decide on its direction and goals. The Board is merely there to facilitate the community, and to do what the General Assembly tells them to. 

Why would I be interested? 

Why would you be interested in democracy in practise? It is fun, exciting, frustrating, slow, ridiculous, amazing. Or, it can be all those things. Being a delegate is a nice way to experience a different part of NSU, and it directly supports to ensure the future of NSU. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been to NSU several years or that this is your first experience. All perspectives matter, the only way to bring in new voices and new directions, is when new members feel invited to join. Please let us know if you can think of any way to support you in this. Contact your coordinator if you have questions or doubts about any part of this process, or write directly to the Board. 

What can I expect when I become a delegate? 

There will be two main meetings: October 17 and October 30. (Register on Zoom here.) There is an agenda, where you can see what will be discussed, many documents have been already linked in the agenda for you to look at. Some items are presentations or open discussions, some require a formal vote. We will try to set up the voting in such a way that most of it can be done between the two meetings (through doodle). (But this is up to the tellers, two of the delegates who will volunteer to take care of this.) So even if you cannot attend both meetings, you will be able to vote. All the documents to vote on will be online and can be found in this Google Drive folder. This will be updated throughout the month. 

For most decisions, the Board will prepare a proposal, which the GA can discuss and change according to their wishes. Most of these discussions will take place at the first meeting, and then the Board will prepare new proposals based on the decisions of the GA. But other items like the proposal for the new Board that is being prepared by the Nominating Committee 2021 will be presented during the second meeting, and then voted upon. 

There is also an option for people to send in new proposals, which are not yet part of the agenda. All NSU members can do this. The deadline and information can be found in the agenda

Why is it important to be(come) a delegate?

If there is no active community to decide on the future of the Nordic Summer University (like in the case there are no delegates), then there is no future of the Nordic Summer University. 

YES! Where do I sign up?

Here is the list of delegates for the NSU General Assembly 2021. There are two types of delegates: regional (based on the region of your affiliation), and circle delegates. If you would like to become a regional delegate, please contact the Board ( If you would be interested in becoming a delegate for your circle, please contact your coordinators, as they will make sure three are chosen together to represent the circle. 

With warm regards, looking forward to seeing you and all delegates at the General Assembly!

Nicole des Bouvrie

Chair Nordic Summer University 2021

ps. Let’s make sure this pandemic is finished next summer, so that next summer we can hold the General Assembly in person, in Norway, and have a real party afterwards. 

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NSU October “Summer” Session Information!

Dear friends and members of the Nordic Summer University,

Summer is almost over, but the Summer Session of the Nordic Summer University is about to start! During the whole month of October, things will be happening (mostly online). Several symposia organised by the different study circles will take place, keynote lecture by Silvia Federici, and… of course also the General Assembly of the Nordic Summer University. (For dates and details… see the list below.)

Please invite friends, colleagues, those people you’ve always wanted to drag along to the remote island or venue where the NSU summer session normally takes place, as this year it will be very easy to join one or several of the events. 

Only requirement to join is to become a member. Memberships are available for 0, 10 or 25 euro. (And please contact the circle coordinators for information on joining the symposia of the different circles. Often it is possible to come as a participant and listen in, even when the call for papers has already ended.)

Looking forward to seeing you all during the Opening Session on Friday 1st of October!

With warm regards,
Nicole des Bouvrie
Chair Nordic Summer University 2021

Some highlights from the NSU October Session… more information and ways to sign up to follow soon, see for all information.

Opening Session

Friday 1 October, 18:00 CET 

Festive opening, with special guest Vivi Vold who will show parts of her film about the use of indigenous knowledge and decolonising academia, which will open up the discussion of the future of NSU and we will hold regional meetings, where we can discuss important points for the future of NSU from our perspectives and choose delegates for the NSU General Assembly. 

Register on Zoom.

Keynote: Silvia Federici

Friday 15 October, 17:00 CET

Register on Zoom [updated link!]

Future of NSU – Online Panel & Discussion

Friday 8 October, 18:00 CET
We will meet to discuss the future of NSU. As a base for our discussions we will use both the dialogue lead by Qivioq Løvstrøm and Vivi Volt around Decolonizing Academia and the information brought forth by Johan Söderberg from discussions with Karolina and strategic new funding possibilities. Discussions will be lead by Laura Hellsten and take place in breakout rooms.
Register on Zoom.

General Assembly Day 1 & Day 2

Sunday 17 October 2021 from 14:00-15:30 CET and 16:00-17:30 CET
& Saturday 30 October 2020 from 14:00-15:30 CET and 16:00-17:30 CET

See agenda (still being updated) – Register on Zoom

Study Circle Symposia

Circle 1 Symposium: The Urban Environment
23-24 October 2021 – Information

Circle 3 Symposium: Solidarity and the Political – Feminist thinking and the needs of today
23-24 October 2021 – Information

Circle 4 Symposium: Culture and the Impending Ecocatastrophe. Narratives of Ecology and Sustainable Futures
20 October 2021 – Information

Circle 5 Symposium: Racialization, Knowledge Production and Researcher Positionality
11-13 October 2021 – in Roskilde, Denmark & online – Information

Circle 6 Symposium: The urban, rural and wild: human-nature relations in the North
14-15 October 2021 – Information

Circle 7 Open Mic and drinks evening
12 October 19:00-21:00 CET – Information

Circle 8 Symposium: Education and the Human Other in the Anthropocene
15-17 October 2021 – Program & information

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2020 Annual report

Dear friends,

We’re pleased to let you know that the 2020 NSU Annual Report, plus the Financial Annual Report, can now be found on the website:

Despite the worldwide crisis, NSU has had a wonderful year, connecting to a lot of new and old participants. Almost all circles were able to continue its work, and the Board would like to thank all the participants, coordinators and other volunteers for their continued support and work to make NSU into the space it is – a place to meet new ideas, new collaborators and new possibilities.

Looking forward to all the winter symposia that will take place in the coming month(s)!

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Good news for Humanities in the Nordics – and NSU?

Ever since its start in 1950, the Nordic Summer University (NSU) has brought together people from natural sciences, humanities and social science — simply because innovation in thinking and action works best when getting inspiration from beyond your own field. NSU is not a regular university in that sense, nor does it aim to be. It focusses on being a seeding ground, bringing together people from various backgrounds both in and outside of academia. To think, to experiment in thinking, and to forge collaborations that prove fruitful for very many years.

Just like the humanities, the Nordic Summer University is facing terrible cuts in funding. As an organisation run completely by volunteers, funders are very important to keep the organisation and its main activities afloat: nine different study circles with each its own interdisciplinary topic each organise two symposia per year. One during the winter months (February and March) and the nine symposia are organised collaboratively during the summer with parallel programs in one physical location to encourage collaboration and meeting between the different groups.

Unfortunately, after many years of support, the Nordic Council of Ministers has stopped all of its support to NSU in 2021. That is why NSU is actively looking for new collaborator who are interested in keeping this Nordic collaboration in business. NSU brings in a lot of networks, experience and capable people. But in order to continue our practise of supporting the unemployed, single parent researchers and people from remote areas in the Nordic and Baltic regions with scholarships and travel grants, NSU would like to find long-term collaborative partners that would like to support NSU’s mission:

“NSU’s main objectives are to support the development of emerging research initiatives and communities by fostering scholarly networks engaged in multidisciplinary enquiries, and to provide a space for conversations and exchange of ideas between diverse members of the Nordic-Baltic regions.” (source: NSU statutes)

Which is why we find it heart-warming to read that there is a new plan to support the humanities in Norway and the Nordics. NSU is looking forward to collaboration.

“The University of Oslo has presented an ambitious and unprecedented action plan for the humanities towards 2030 – the first such plan ever – in response to the Norwegian government’s call in 2017 for higher education institutions to strengthen their work with the humanities.” Source: University World News

Photo: University of Oslo, iStock
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Announcement Summer Session 2021!

Even though the preparation for the Winter Symposia, which will all take place in February-March, are still going on, we can already let you know the following about the 2021 Summer Session!

The Board, together with the coordinators of the study circles, looked at the possibilities in connection to the pandemic situation. It is very hard to predict what the opportunities are coming summer, but it is very probable that it will be hard to travel between countries. Even if some countries allow international travel, it is very uncertain enough people would be willing to risk this and come to Norway. Also, organising a meeting with 200 people in Covid-times will be a challenge with current restrictions and precautions in place.

Therefore, we have decided the following:

The summer session will be held online from 1-7 August 2021. in the whole month of October 2021! (updated in May 2021)

Opening of the Summer session with regional meetings (over zoom) and panel discussions: 1 October 2021

17 October 2021 – General Assembly Part 1

30 October 2021 – General Assembly Part 2

(Joint events will take place in the afternoon/evening (CET) to accommodate people from all over the Nordic region.)

Find call for papers and participation on each study circle’s page on the NSU website.

More information will follow, but please keep these dates in mind.

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Winter Symposia 2021 – Coordinators meeting

Last weekend the coordinators of the study circles of the Nordic Summer University met, to discuss the ongoing plans for the Winter Symposia, and to make first plans for the Summer Session this year.

Also the keys of NSU were passed on from the departing 2020 Chair Inta Balode (Latvia) to the new Chair for 2021 Nicole des Bouvrie (International). With many thanks to the hard work of both Inta and the other members of the Board last year, and fortunately Inta is taking on the new responsibility of treasurer to support Nicole and the rest of the Board in the tasks ahead.

Upcoming Winter Symposia:

Circle 9 will hold a small gathering in Turku, but the symposium will be mostly online, 17 to 19 March 2021, in collaboration with circle 4. Topic: Comics in the Nordic Region

Circle 8 will have an online symposium from 26 to 28 March 2021. Planned are 4 keynotes and 14 presentations. Topic: Education and Nature as the Other in the Anthropocene

Circle 7: There will be several evenings in March with programme, as well as a physical event in Helsinki in May 2021, a meeting outdoors if not inside. Also, a reading group is starting. Topic of the Winter Symposium: Presence.

Circle 6: Winter Symposium with 18 presentations and 2 keynotes. Mid-march, still thinking about physical event in Turku. So this will probably be a hybrid event, both online and offline. Topic: Is there a need for a new, a Nordic, environmental ethic?

Circle 5 will organise an online Winter Symposium from 17 to 19 March 2021. However, IF possible, there will be some meeting in Denmark with local people. There will be presentations of 14 papers during three afternoons, even though more applied. Topic: Racialized Encounters.

Circle 4. There will be a couple of sessions per day during their online Winter Symposium that will be held from 16 to 19 March 2021 and on 28 to 31 in Paris (also online, in collaboration with the American University there). There were many applications but they had to reject some to come to a manageable amount. Topic: Narrating Violence: Making Race, Making Difference.

Circle 3. With around 30 participants, many from the writing community and reading groups that were established during last summer session, but also new people. The Winter Symposium will take place from 6 to 8 March, online, with two evening events in Turku (Finland) and Tallinn (Estonia) for local people to join. Topic: Home & Exile.

Circle 2 is working on the publication and collaborative writing project that will take place over three sessions during March. Around 15 participants were accepted. It will be a completely online event on March 6, 18-19 and 30-31. Topic: Far Futures Archeology: collaborative excavations. Writing workshop and publication project.

Circle 1 will host a Winter Symposium from 27 to 28 March 2021. There are 10 minute presentations and time for discussions with around 15 people. Topic: The Urban Everyday Life.

For more information, see the information from each circle. Hoping to see you during one of the events!

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