How UiO changed Norway

The University of Oslo has played a pivotal role in many of the major changes in Norway over the last 200 years. In connection with our bicentennial, we published stories about the University's contributions to society.

Experiences gained from the 22 July massacre have underlined that knowledge about religion is a key prerequisite for preventing conflicts.

One of the most important reasons why Norwegians fought for a university in their country more than 200 years ago was the need to educate teachers who could strengthen the knowledge level of the population of a poor country under foreign control.

The Nazi occupying forces closed down the University of Oslo on 30 November 1943. This provoked strong reactions.

We have a lot to thank lawyer Jens Evensen for. Together with his team in the Legal Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he formulated the sentence “The right to subsea natural resources lies with the state.”

Fridtjof Nansen’s appetite for scientific discovery left a mark that inspires a wide range of academic disciplines, right up to the present day. Nansen’s research was important for a young nation, and he served to inspire it to shift its course away from Sweden and towards the sea and the High North.  

In 1811, the Danish King stopped opposing what he thought would be an institution that promoted political separatism. He was right! The University would come to play an immeasurable role in Norway's liberation.

I seem to remember hearing at school – I had an excellent history teacher, Mr Aakvaag – that King Frederik VI was afraid that establishment of a university in Norway would only serve to strengthen the liberation movement here.

The place was Universitetsplassen, the year 1957: I was 18 years old and about to embark on a degree course.

A fiasco became a success of global significance, thanks to scientific insight. Mineral fertiliser has been ranked Norway's most important invention of the last 100 years in a public survey carried out by the national broadcasting company NRK and the Norwegian Industrial Property Office.

Some 200 years ago, all Norwegian doctors had trained in Denmark. Parallel to Norway getting its own Constitution in 1814, the Faculty of Medicine was established as part of the fledgling Royal Frederik University. Norway could finally educate its own doctors and start building up a national health service.  

For 200 years, the University of Oslo has trained and forged ties with very many people who have had a major historical impact on developments in Norway. Their legacy permeates modern Norwegian society.