Gro Harlem Brundtland: Reflections in connection with the University's bicentennial

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

I had chosen medicine, after much deliberation – both economics and law seemed equally interesting. I had recently read my mother's book The Constitution of Norway by Johs Andenæs and had been unable to put it down – it was so absorbing.

At the same time, Frisch and Brofoss made economics seem a very tempting option. No, it was not an easy choice! As it turns out, life has taught me much about both of the two subjects I had to drop back then.

Fantastic time

My student years were fantastic. I had many exceptional teachers. The University was a meeting place for young people from all over Norway, and we had so much to learn from each other.
Student life outside the classroom also proved to be a very important source of personal growth and learning. I look back on those six years as a happy, exciting time that changed the entire course of my life, work and future.

UiO was the obvious choice

It never even crossed my mind to study anywhere other than the University of Oslo, even though I was among the few young people of my generation to have spent a year living abroad (USA, with my family) and was therefore probably more likely than most to look beyond the borders of Norway's capital. This illustrates the great changes that have taken place, perhaps not so much among our children, but certainly for our grandchildren's generation it is commonplace now to study abroad, at least for part of their course.

The University is important for social development

Internationalisation is having a rapidly increasing impact on us all. For universities, this has been a matter of course for centuries. Knowledge transcends national borders. Researchers and teachers have known this for a very, very long time. You have everything to lose by not joining in. That is why it is so important that we have had a university in the capital of Norway for 200 years at least. It has had an enormous impact on the development of Norwegian society. Just think what we as a nation would have missed out on if we had not had a university until 1905!

Published Sep. 8, 2011 3:07 PM