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ISSUE 119 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 9/30/2005

Norway, U.S. relations celebrated

By Jean Mullins
Executive Editor

Friday, September 30, 2005

Students, faculty and guests gathered at St. Olaf on Saturday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden at the "Norway and the United States 1905-2005: A Friendship and its Future" conference. The conference was presented by St. Olaf College and the Norwegian-American Historical Association (NAHA). Todd Nichol, the King Olav V professor of Scandinavian-American studies, and Solveig Zempel, professor of Norwegian and associate dean of interdisciplinary and general studies, organized the conference.

"We felt that it was appropriate that St. Olaf joined the many institutions throughout the world celebrating this event," Nichol said.

The conference began in Buntrock Commons with welcome speeches from Jan McDaniel Cummings, vice president for college relations, Christopher Thomforde, president of St. Olaf, and John Tunheim, president of NAHA.

In a note in the program, Thomforde said, "This conference is a sign of the college's commitment to enrich our relationship with the people of Norway into the future." Following the welcome, Geir Lundestad, director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute and secretary to the Nobel committee members, gave the keynote address "Allies of a Kind." This speech addressed cultural and political interests of Norway and the United States. The first of three moderated sessions followed. "We were interested in considering the present and the future of the friendship between the United States and Norway from the perspective of themes central to a place like St. Olaf," said Nichol.

Per Egil Hegge, a journalist that has served on the staff of the leading Norwegian daily newspaper, "Aftenposten," began the first session on society and community with a speech on the relationship and differences between Norwegians and Swedes one hundred years after the dissolution of their union. Hegge was followed by Christine Ingebritsen, professor of Scandinavian studies and associate dean of undergraduate education at the University of Washington in Seattle, who gave the speech "Norwegians as Norm Entrepreneurs in World Politics."

The second moderated session on business and industry featured Terje Osmundsen, founder and chief editor of Mandag Morgen, a business publication, who gave a speech, "Management Challenges in the 21st Century: Is there a Scandinavian Way? What Can We Learn from the American Way?" James Johnston, a policy advisor, director and secretary of the Heartland Institute, gave a talk "Emissions Trading and the Katrina Oil Shock".

The final session addressed science and technology with talks by Ragnhild Sohlberg, the former vice president of Norsk Hydro, a leading offshore oil and gas producer and a promoter of renewable energy and energy efficient power solutions. She gave the speech, "Science, Technology and Society: A Norwegian Perspective."

Rita Colwell, a faculty member at the University of Maryland at College Park and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and former director of the National Science Foundation, followed Sohlberg and gave her speech, "Science and Engineering."

Christen Strandli '09 registered for the conference before she came to the United States as an exchange student from Norway.

"I have been looking forward to this since before I came here," she said. "It was great."

Strandli mentioned how she would not get to meet the presenters were she back home in Norway, but was able to meet them at the Norwegian conference. While she enjoyed the whole conference, her favorite presentations were those of Lundestad and Hegge.

"I liked the way they analyzed and pointed at what characterized Norwegians," she said.

After the sessions, there was a reception during which participants enjoyed the art exhibit in the Flaten Art Gallery in Dittmann Center called "Fjord Born." All of the 19 artists that contributed to the exhibit were born along fjords in Norway. The reception was followed by a banquet in Buntrock Commons.

Hegge gave the first of the closing speeches, "A Friendship" Hegge's speech was followed by a counterpart speech, "And Its Future," which was scheduled to be delivered by Kurt Vollebaek, the Norwegian ambassador to the United States. However, due to Hurricane Rita, Vollebaek was unable to attend, and another speaker replaced him.

"I think the conference explained a lot," Strandli said. "It helped the understanding of the cultures."

Strandli said that, from her standpoint, everyone at the conference enjoyed it, but Americans probably got something different out of it than she, a Norwegian, did.

"We were very pleased," Nichol said. "We thought the speakers were very effective." Nichol also said that there had been a good turnout.

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