Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies

The Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies honors Luther College’s legacy as the first college in the United States founded by Norwegian immigrants. Its mission is to foster connections with today’s Nordic region through innovative programs and partnerships. It is the only endowed undergraduate Nordic Studies Center in the United States.

The Center’s work consists of five pillars:

  • Collaborative programming and student internships at the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, one of the most comprehensive museums in the United States dedicated to a single immigrant group.
  • Travel grants for faculty and staff to pursue research or to set up academic opportunities in a Nordic country.
  • Visiting Scholars who expand the Luther College community’s understanding of modern scientific, economic, social, environmental and cultural issues in the Nordic region.
  • The Peace Scholars program, designed to deepen students’ understanding of the central issues and theories regarding conflict, war and peace.
  • The Tomson Family Endowed Chair in Norwegian Language and Modern Nordic Culture, which serves as the academic foundation of the Center and ensures excellent education in language, history, politics and literature.

Luther College’s Norwegian Heritage

Nordic values like egalitarianism, mutual respect and innovation have shaped Luther College throughout its history. Luther College’s ethos reflects Nordic commitments to service on behalf of the common good, empowering women, practicing environmental stewardship, and offering hospitality to those of different ethnic and religious backgrounds. The college’s curricular and program offerings incorporate Nordic insights in the areas of business management and economic theory; alternative approaches to social welfare, health care and education; as well as efforts to address global issues like peace and conflict resolution, deforestation and climate change, and relief and development work.

These and other Nordic values and insights guide the work of the Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies and support rich partnerships with Luther College’s Center for Ethics and Public Engagement, Center for Sustainable Communities, and Center for Global Learning.