Peace Scholars Program

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 Human Rights 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 (originally as the Nobel Peace Prize Forum), the Human Rights Forum fosters "respectful dialogue across lines of difference as means for making meaningful and lasting social change."

Academic Coursework

The 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.


  • Applicants must commit to the full program dates (June to August).
  • Attend two Human Rights Forums in Minneapolis. The purpose of the first is to be introduced and to attend a brief orientation session for the Peace Scholars program. The purpose of attending the second Forum is to network with the newly-appointed scholars.
  • Blog regularly during the Peace Scholar experience in Norway.
  • Formally share one's Peace Scholar learning experience in two venues during fall semester, either on campus or in one's home community.
  • Play a leadership role in peace activities on one’s campus and community.
  • Assist in promoting the Peace Scholars program and the upcoming Human Rights Forum.
  • Assist in other aspects of the Human Rights Forum such as hosting and introducing speakers or other opportunities provided by the Forum staff.

Criteria and Application Process

Open to full-time sophomore or junior students with a strong academic record.  Scholars are typically named by mid-February each year.

Applications include:

  • 1,000 word essay (maximum) addressed to the Peace Scholars Selection Committee. The essay should articulate one’s interest in being a Peace Scholar, including how the experience would connect with one’s academic and vocational interests and goals.
  • Two letters of recommendation—one from a faculty member and the second from either a faculty or staff member
  • Resume
  • Official Transcript
  • Interview (finalists)

For More Information

For more information about the Peace Scholars program, visit the official Peace Scholars website or contact the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement.