Since 1950, the Nordic Summer University (NSU) has been an independent, democratic, academic institution, committed to cross-disciplinary research and critical thinking. Inspired by the 19th Century Danish public reformer N.F.S. Grundtvig – who developed a social philosophy of “people’s high schools” (folkehøjskole) – NSU was founded to express Nordic humanistic and educational values. The institution sought to cross disciplines, to flatten hierarchies by mixing established figures with young scholars, and to be both scientific and popular by expressing Grundtvig’s ideal that “the University must build bridges between the light of the scholars and the lives of the people” (højskolen skal bygge bromellem lyset hos de lærde og livet hos folket).
Throughout 2020, in collaboration with the Nordic Council, we are bursting open our history with a range of 10 arts/research projects – each taking departure in a theme of ‘Nordicness’ and producing films, essays, photos and blogs to trace the spirit of NSU across the world.
Keynotes over the years have included Slavoj Žižek, Martha Nussbaum, Karen Armstrong and Simon Critchley, but this is no ordinary conference! Keynotes not only deliver lectures but live with and around the study circles during the week, joining discussions and switching over to become just another curious researcher among peers. (Sound histories of our keynotes are being explored by one of our artists/researchers, Eduardo Abrantes.)