Universities and university colleges play an important role by providing education in human rights, multicultural understanding, reconciliation, and peace and conflict studies. The core values of these institutions include openness and dialogue in inclusive and democratic settings. Nevertheless, it is a historical fact that universities, in many conflicts, act as forerunners for conflict entrepreneurs and helps to legitimize political projects that weaken democracy, the rule of law and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

In this conference, we will discuss how we can ensure that universities remain true to its core values, and how they can contribute, in partnership with civil society, to build peace in conflict-ridden societies. The conference will focus on the universities’ role in various conflict zones, and the challenges that Norwegian universities face when they collaborate with universities in areas of conflict.

The conference is organized by the University College of Southeastern Norway, theNorwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO).

Registration of participation with karl.aasheim@hbv.no by 19 January!


9:30 - 10:00 Registration, coffee/tea
10:00 - 10:15 Opening statements by the organizers
Lars Petter Soltvedt, Associate Professor, University College of Southeastern Norway
Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General, Norwegian Helsinki Committee
10:15 - 10:30 Introduction
Enver Djuliman, Senior Adviser, Norwegian Helsinki Committee
10:30 - 11:15 Experiences and challenges
The universities' role in the conflicts in the Western Balkan sSpeaker:
Amela Lukac, Associate professor, International University of Novi Pazar
Bridging the space between the classroom and the real worldSpeaker:
Lars Petter Soltvedt, Associate professor, the University College of Southeastern Norway
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee/tea
11:30 - 12:15 Education in democratic values in an “illiberal” democracy
László Majtényi, Founder and President of the Eötvös Károly Institute, Hungary
SIU – Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (Speaker to be confirmed)
12:15 - 12:45 Norwegian experiences
Ole Petter Ottersen, Rector, University of Oslo
12:45 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 14:45 Panel discussion: How to ensure that universities in conflict situations remain true to their core values? How can universities cooperate with civil society to promote peace?
Inger Skjelsbæk (PRIO)
Roland Kostić (University of Uppsala)
Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal (Norwegian Helsinki Committee)
14:45 - 15:00 Summaries and Recommendations