Six colleges founded by Norwegian-American immigrants sponsor an annual summer Peace Scholars program in Norway, designed to deepen students’ understanding of the central issues and theories regarding conflict, war and peace. Through an application and interview process, students from Augsburg, Augustana (Sioux Falls), Concordia (Moorhead), Luther, Pacific Lutheran, and St. Olaf are selected as Peace Scholars and awarded a seven-week academic experience held in Lillehammer and Oslo, Norway.
The Peace Scholars program is an outgrowth of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, an annual event held in Minneapolis that inspires students and other citizens to become active participants in peacemaking efforts around the world. Begun in 1988 by Luther and four other colleges, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum is the Norwegian Nobel Institute’s only such program or academic affiliation outside of Norway.
The 2016 program begins with five days at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue in Lillehammer, where Peace Scholars will be participant-observers in structured dialogue sessions with students from the Balkans/Caucasus regions.
The program continues at the University of Oslo's International Summer School (ISS) where students will participate in a Peace Scholars Seminar, a rigorous academic course that provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of peace and conflict studies and combines theoretical and empirical aspects. As part of the seminar, students will be expected to develop a research project in consultation with the course leader.
Because Norway is known in the international community for its leadership role in advocating cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflict, the Peace Scholars Seminar will include visits to several peace organizations and institutions in Norway, including the International Peace Research Institute, the Nobel Institute, and the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. Scholars will also take an ISS course of his or her own choosing with other international students. Course offerings include Norwegian language, culture, or international politics. At the successful conclusion of the program, the Peace Scholars will receive academic credit for two courses.
The Peace Scholars program is competitive, and those selected to participate will be awarded a scholarship (valued at nearly $6,000) that covers the Lillehammer and Oslo program and all ISS program fees, including academic credit, room, and board. Luther students will also be given $500 to assist with the cost of their round-trip airfare to Oslo. Personal expenses, books, and supplies are not covered.
Open to full-time sophomore or junior students with a strong academic record. The 2017 application period has passed. Scholars are typically named by mid-February each year.
Betsy Fawcett was a Political Science an Psychology double major at Luther. She supplemented her majors with courses in economics, statistics, and religion. Betsy was the President of the Student Senate and enjoyed putting her peace scholar’s experience to use as a student leader. Additionally, she was a first-year RA and the President of Luther College Democrats. In the Decorah community, Betsy worked closely with the Winneshiek County Democrats, coached the middle school mock trial team and volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children involved in juvenile court cases.
In her time working with the Luther College and Winneshiek County Democrats, Betsy has realized her passion for national, state, and local politics. In the future, she sees herself working within the political system to impact policy on the federal, state and/or local level. She utilized her Peace Scholar's experience to explore how our political system could benefit from peace makers. She enjoyed discussing how peaceful dialogue, compromises, and agreeing to disagree in the peace process can impact our political process.
Emily Holm received the scholarship as a sophomore. She graduated in 2016 with a major in religion and minors in mathematics and computer science. Though these subjects seem unrelated at surface level, Emily is passionate about them because of their shared problem-solving aspects, and considers herself a problem-solver as well. She is especially interested in religious conflict-resolution and interfaith dialogue.
After her time in Norway, Emily traveled to Seattle to work at Kids4Peace, an interfaith summer program for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim students. The camp seeks to foster religious understanding and mutual respect. Her internship led her to develop a children's interfaith curriculum with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, which is now being used by churches and youth groups across the country. The Peace Scholars Program, paired with the resulting experiences, has shown Emily that children can be powerful forces for peace.
Katie Kovacovich majored in social work and had a minor in music. At Luther she was the President of Active Minds, which empowers students to change the perception of mental health. Katie was also on Student Senate and served as the head of the Student Leadership Committee. Outside of the Luther community she volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate where she advocated for children in abuse and neglect juvenile court cases.
Her work with the Peace Scholars program has provided her insight and growth in areas of peace and community, and helped her further discover ways in which this focus can be applied to even the smallest aspects of an individual's life. It has enabled her to make connections with people from all over the world, and to be inspired and empowered toward life-long goals of international peace and conflict resolution.
Anna Jeide is a 2016 grad. She majored in English and Spanish and had a minor in Religion, but considers herself a student of many disciplines. At Luther, Anna worked for Chips as an editor, volunteers as an ESL instructor with immigrant families through the Spanish service organization Enlaces, and sings in choir. She believes in the healing power of coffee and walking in the woods in Decorah.
Through the Peace Scholars program, Anna has come to believe that the best place to start planting peace is right in her own backyard. We need to understand ourselves in the context of our own community before we can understand others. She hopes to continue engaging in dialogue and building peaceful relationships at Luther, in her hometown of Wayzata, Minnesota.
Imsouchivy Suos (G.V.), an international student originally from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, graduated in 2015 with an economics and business management double major and a minor in international management studies. G.V. graduated from three different high schools, one of them being the United World College in Hong Kong. He has extensive international experience as he has traveled, studied, volunteered, and worked in more than 40 countries in the past six years. G.V. has a deep interest in economic development and international affairs, especially human rights issues.
At Luther, G.V. served as a resident assistant and assistant hall director of the Farwell residence hall. He also put on a weekly radio show at the college radio station, KWLC, worked for the Luther photo bureau, and interned with the communications and marketing department. G.V. also served as a leader in student organizations such as Paigaam and Aynah. During his sophomore year, G.V. completed a study abroad program in Malta, where he volunteered as an English teacher at Red Cross open refugee centers. G.V. is also known as an avid international street/travel photographer who has held variety of exhibitions and publications in various media. G.V. has developed a deep understanding about international issues and is looking forward to returning to serve his community, his country, and the world as a global citizen.
Cate Anderson received the scholarship as a junior studying History and French, with minors in Writing and International Studies. Originally from New Ulm, Minnesota, she spent Spring 2013 semester in Grenoble, France, studying French language and culture. Her interests include cooking new recipes, attending poetry slams, and traveling on a shoestring. At Luther, she put on a weekly radio show, sang in various choirs, and interned for the Development Office.
Cate’s academic interests at Luther centered around a common theme of trying to understand what is behind neighbor-to-neighbor conflict. Springing from work done as a research assistant for a Luther faculty member, she was most interested in the power of narrative in creating both misunderstanding and understanding.
Maggie Steinberg received the scholarship as a sophomore studying political science and religion. A native of Portland, Oregon, Maggie has spent her summers jet-setting across the country to work at an environmental learning camp in Finland, Minnesota. At Luther, Maggie sang for two years in two different women’s choruses. As a member of Luther’s Student Senate she is working to increase the reach of student organizations around campus. She loves to read and have late night discussions with her friends about various issues around the world and at home. After her internship in the House of Representatives, Maggie realized the power of all the things that get done at a local level, even when national attention is diverted to larger problems. Change does not need to be sweeping to be effective, and a group of committed people has the ability to enact that change. After graduation, Maggie hopes to use her skills from the Peace Scholars program to work for a humanitarian non-profit or work as a staffer for her Representative.
Clara Bergan received the scholarship as a junior studying Environmental Policy and Art. Having truly embraced the collegiate liberal arts experience, Clara was often to be found in Luther’s Sustainability House, Center for the Arts, or Valders Hall of Science. Clara loves sampling fresh garden salsa, operating steam engines, knitting mittens, and drinking coffee amongst good conversation. Clara is confident that grassroots efforts can make a difference and remains hopeful in the face of issues she is passionate about, like children’s mental health disorders and climate change policy. Someday she hopes to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, live off-the-grid and share her passion for sustainable living with others.
Luke Hanson received the scholarship as a junior majoring in International Studies. Along with his time in Oslo, he studied sustainable development in Jaipur, India, for a semester. After graduating in the spring 2014, Luke hopes to work in the vast field of international development or poverty relief.
In addition to his academic and career pursuits, Luke is passionate about biking, hiking, traveling, and exploring, whether in foreign countries or in the scenic bluffs around Decorah. At Luther, Luke has played cello in the Symphony Orchestra, sung baritone in the Nordic Choir, and represented on Student Senate, and works with a student-led non-profit organization called Aynah.
Lauren Griffin, a native of Plymouth, Minnesota, received the scholarship as a junior majoring in sociology with a minor in women and gender studies. She is interested in a number of different aspects of peacemaking, especially immigration, interfaith dialogue, women’s issues, and conflict resolution.
Thato Masire received the scholarship as a junior with a double major in communication studies and business management. Thato strongly believes that because the world is becoming increasingly smaller due to forces such as the internet and globalization, making cross-cultural communications more important than ever. With regard to peacemaking, Thato is interested in efforts to achieve peace through continuous dialogue and education. As a communications studies major, he focused on a solid platform of dialogue to prevent or resolve conflict along with working with the strong correlation between education and peacemaking.