Every year, students from six different colleges (Augsburg College, Augustana College, Concordia College, Luther College, and Pacific Lutheran University) are selected as Peace Scholars and awarded participation in a summer learning seminar in Oslo, Norway. In addition to the specific sponsors noted below, this program is generously supported by Liv Dahl. The program is designed to deepen their understanding of issues related to peace, justice, democracy, and human rights through an immersive cultural experience. The winning candidates are announced each year during the Nobel Peace Prize Forum after a rigorous application process.
Claire Bergren, Augsburg College
Originally from Minnetonka, MN, Claire is currently a senior at Augsburg College. She’s majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Public Policy and a minor in Peace & Global Studies. She has served as a Student Government representative and Orientation Leader, and is also active in the Bonner Leaders program, which allows students to use work/study money to work at a local non-profit organization – Claire currently works with Hope Community, which helps children ages six to nine with reading and writing. She also volunteers at the Cedar Cultural Center, a unique concert venue in Minneapolis almost solely run on volunteer power. She recently came back from a semester in South Africa & Namibia with a program titled ‘Nation-Building, Globalization, and Decolonization of the Mind.’ According to Claire, her decision to study abroad was “probably the best I’ve ever made.”
Sonja Blackstone Kjerland, Augsburg College
Sonja grew up in West Saint Paul, Minnesota where she graduated from Henry Sibley High School. She attended Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa; Saint Paul Technical College, and Minneapolis Community & Technical College before transferring to Augsburg in the fall of 2010. A committed environmentalist, she worked with the Think Outside the Bottle campaign to reduce and eliminate the waste from bottled water. She also has volunteered and worked on-staff for the past three summers at a church camp in northern Minnesota. She has traveled to Norway before but the Peace Scholars program is her first official study abroad experience. At Augsburg she is a senior majoring in secondary education with a concentration in social studies, but she also studies Norwegian and French. In her free time, Sonja enjoys designing her own clothes and professing the values of a vegan diet. She longs for a world where “respect, peace, and love reign.”
Nathaniel Cook, Concordia College
Nathaniel was born and raised in Hutchinson, MN and is a senior at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. He is majoring in both biology and environmental studies, with a minor in chemistry. He is applying to dental schools this summer and will begin his graduate studies in 2012. After dental school, He plans to work with the National Health Service Corps to practice in an under served community in a community clinic. Within the Peace Scholar’s program, he hopes to learn more about opportunities for creating and maintaining peace based around environmental issues. Because climate change is a global problem and is likely the greatest challenge of our time, Nathaniel believe there is potential for many developed countries to support lesser-developed countries in a more environmentally conscious manner. He plans to explore the opportunity for these sustainable development-based relationships to function as a peace-engendering tactic used around the world.
Lauren Griffin, Luther College
Lauren, a native of Plymouth, Minnesota, is a senior at Luther College 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 dialog, women’s issues, and conflict resolution.
At this point Lauren is exploring an array of career paths, but she would love to work at a nonprofit organization involved in peace and justice issues in some way.
Kelsy Johnson, Concordia College
Kelsy is a native of Bismarck, ND studying print journalism and global studies at Concordia College. She also serves as a specialist in the North Dakota Army National Guard and is a veteran of the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. She recently completed an intensive flood prevention project in Bismarck with the National Guard, building levees in advance of historic summer floods. As a journalism student, Kelsy is interested in the role of the news media in democratic movements, especially in light of the Arab Spring. After her experience in Kosovo and a recent trip to South Africa, she became very interested in reconciliation efforts in post-conflict areas. After graduation, she plans to work as a journalist for an international newspaper, hopefully in the Middle East.
Kelly Krinn, St. Olaf College
Kelly was a participant in the HECUA Northern Ireland program in the spring semester of 2011. She is hoping to use the theory she will learn at the International Summer School to process and better understand her recent experience in Derry/Londonderry, as well as to get clarity about her future academic goals. As a dual History and Political Science major, she is intrigued by the role of governments in peacemaking, such as the possibility of consociational or other democratic solutions to conflict. She has traveled to Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Croatia, and is looking forward to the Nansen dialogue in Lillehammer with students from the Balkans. Kelly has intermediate proficiency in French and is hoping to learn some Norwegian language this summer along with gaining a deeper cultural knowledge of Norway.
Thato Masire, Luther College
A Botswana national, Thato Masire is a senior at Luther College pursuing 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, the importance of cross cultural communications as 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 is convinced that a solid platform of dialogue can prevent or resolve conflict. He also sees a strong correlation between education and peacemaking. After graduation Thato intends to pursue graduate studies in communications or business administration.
Michael Seeley, Augustana College
Hailing from Spencer, Iowa, Michael is currently a senior at Augustana College studying history, government, and classics. His loves include rain, thoughtful conversation, writing, and the universal language of music. He is an active participant in the Augustana Band and has served on the college’s Chapel of Reconciliation’s staff since his Freshmen year. He will eventually attain a degree in law and hopes to practice among the plains of his home, the Midwest. During his summer in Norway, Michael seeks better understanding on distinct methods for establishing and advocating peace on an individual level. Additionally, as a student of government and politics, he wishes to understand how populations resist political repression and move towards governmental freedom. Finally, as a blond-haired, blue-eyed Dutchman, Michael seeks to understand the newness of Norwegian culture and history.
Annemarie Smith, St. Olaf College
Annemarie hopes one day to work in international relations and development with an agency like USAID or for the United Nations or the Department of State. To this end she is studying history with a concentration in Middle Easter Studies as well as French, German and Arabic. She started traveling early on with family trips to Mexico, Canada and Europe and has studied abroad in Morocco as well as on the “Global Semester” which took her to Switzerland, Turkey, Egypt, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, and South Korea. She claims to feel more comfortable traveling than sitting at home and is really looking forward to exploring a new country, to learning from experts in diplomacy and peacemaking and to doing research on a current real-world conflict.
Thad Titze, Augustana College
Thad, a native of Watertown, South Dakota, is a senior at Augustana College. He focuses his studies on Government and International Relations with minors in Classics and Political Philosophy. He hopes to either pursue a M.A. in International Relations or a law degree upon graduation. At Augustana, Thad serves at Student Body Vice President, an Ambassador for Augie’s large international student population, and is involved with the Government Club and Augie Green. As a peace scholar, Thad hopes to better understand the best ways to cultivate and sustain peace within states and regions around the globe. He is also interested in the history of global conflicts and the methods employed to resolve them. On a personal level, Thad hopes this experience will guide his own desire to serve the international community in a future career.