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HF 2030 – Knowledge for the 21st century

Strategy for the Faculty of Humanities 2021-2030.

The area in front of Niels Treschows hus seen from above. People walking across the area, benches, lampposts and a sculpture. Photo.
Photo: Jarli & Jordan/UiO

The Faculty of Humanities’ mission is to contribute to critical thinking, new knowledge and insight, and to educate students for a changing world and working life.

The humanities are significant to the University of Oslo and represent a key part of its strength. The Faculty’s academic communities have helped shape Norwegian society since the University was founded in 1811, and over the coming decade, the Faculty of Humanities (HF) will continue to be the leading humanities faculty in Norway and among the best in Europe.

Research of high international quality requires solid disciplines characterised by curiosity-driven basic research and academic freedom. The Faculty has a strong research profile, and many of the Faculty’s academic communities are internationally leading in their field. The Faculty’s research strength is rooted in its academic breadth and ensures the quality of our research-based education programmes.

In the next ten-year period, the study programmes must be strengthened. Education of a high international standard requires student-active learning, a focus on the learning environment, integration of students into research, and closer collaboration with partners in society.  Our students must be included in a challenging and inspiring academic community.

HF’s staff and students contribute knowledge and skills that are of great value to society. This makes HF an appealing place to study and a workplace that attracts highly qualified applicants in all job categories, from both Norway and abroad. The students and staff are the Faculty’s most valuable resource, and HF is well placed to set the course for the new strategy period.

During the next decade, HF expects to be challenged by changes in the sector, increased competition for students, and changes in external parameters. Innovative thinking and pioneering work are necessary to retain and strengthen the position the Faculty currently holds. Financial leeway and an organisation that enables interdisciplinary collaboration are prerequisites for achieving the Faculty’s goals for its activities.

This strategy focuses on areas where the Faculty wants to make changes over the next ten years.  The document provides a direction for HF’s priorities going forward. The Faculty of Humanities’ strategy 2030 will be implemented through the individual departments’ strategies, and through the departments’ and the Faculty’s annual plans and plans of action.


Diversity, equal opportunities and organisational culture

HF is and should remain a major, leading faculty characterised by breadth, generosity and diversity, and a meeting place for people from every part of the world. This is a source of wealth that must be reflected in HF as an organisation, place of study and research institution. Representativeness, academic freedom and diversity of opinion are important values for the Faculty and must permeate all its activities.

Norway is a multicultural society, and Oslo is a multicultural city. HF must be an open and inclusive place for all groups of students, staff and guests, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, nationality, social background and functional ability. The work to promote equal opportunities and diversity will be followed up in a structured, systematic way. Among other things, HF will seek to achieve a more diverse student population. HF must have an active policy for the integration of foreign employees and for achieving gender balance among the academic staff, including at the professorship level.

A good working environment is a prerequisite for the successful pursuit of academic ambitions. HF’s staff and students must experience a good social learning and working environment characterised by co-determination and knowledge sharing. The Faculty’s employees shall engage with students such that they feel included as a part of HF and offer teaching methods that promote integration. Opportunities to be involved and participate shall be made visible for employees and students.

HF must contribute to efforts to achieve the climate goals, and to this end, we must change how we work and study. The Faculty must reduce its own greenhouse gas emissions through binding measures related to operations and travel, and shall make arrangements to enable students and staff to make environmentally conscious choices in their studies and work.

Major societal challenges

The humanities promote critical reflection in a globalised, multicultural society. The humanistic disciplines have an underexploited potential in contributing to identifying, understanding and resolving the great challenges of our time. HF needs to become better at realising this potential, while also communicating more clearly what the Faculty is already doing.

The Faculty’s academic breadth and disciplinary strength provide good opportunities for challenge-driven and societally relevant research and education. These opportunities must be seized. HF shall be a key player in identifying, understanding and resolving societal challenges.

The organisation of research, education and administration must enable collaboration that helps address challenges in society. The Faculty will develop collaborative arenas and support interdisciplinary research and education initiatives.

Societally relevant perspectives must be better integrated into existing and new study programmes. This can be achieved through more research-oriented teaching methods and through external collaboration. Students must be made aware of how their competencies are relevant in contributing to understanding, problematizing and resolving societal challenges.

The greatest potential for growth in research funding to HF lies in the thematic programmes. The thematic programmes of the Research Council of Norway and in the EU Framework Programme are fully or partially aimed at societal challenges and often require interdisciplinary approaches. HF’s research environments shall to a greater extent compete for funding from thematic programmes.


The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the point of departure for the Faculty’s approach to the concept of sustainability. The Faculty’s breadth and international perspectives makes HF particularly well qualified to contribute both to interpreting and defining the SDGs and to achieving them through our research, education and dissemination.

The climate crisis is a global challenge that HF will contribute to resolving by providing knowledge of the interaction between people, nature and technology. The students must learn about these kinds of complex interactions in order for them to use this knowledge in their future endeavours. The challenge is not only a lack of scientific understanding of climate change; it is also a matter of how people relate to scientific knowledge. 

Democracy is under pressure, and HF must be an active contributor to research and education concerning democracy. A better understanding of how knowledge can be used and misused, and how it can motivate people to act, is needed. HF will contribute knowledge concerning how inequality can lead to polarisation and the erosion of trust in society.

While the multicultural reality is enriching it also entails challenges because culture and identity can trigger conflict. HF has a special responsibility to understand and explore contemporary processes of cultural change, locally and globally. Our researchers and candidates shall contribute to a greater understanding of linguistic and cultural complexities, and work for a society that is characterised by tolerance and solidarity, even in situations marked by tensions and contradictions.

HF’s unique competence on cultural heritage gives the Faculty a responsibility to ensure that knowledge about majority and minority cultures and languages in Norway is developed and actualized in research and teaching.

Societal relevance and engagement

Expertise in the humanities is necessary for society, and the Faculty must ensure that this knowledge benefits society through the education programmes that are offered. HF is a knowledge-based agenda setter that contributes to debate and knowledge sharing in the general domain through extensive dissemination activities. As a  faculty located in the capital, HF must be a visible player in Oslo.

In view of the current trend towards growing distrust of research and expertise, new solutions are required. HF will adopt new forms of communication and arenas to disseminate humanistic knowledge. Through contact and collaboration with relevant decision-makers and parties in society, HF must work to ensure that this knowledge is put to use.

HF aims to contribute to promoting inclusion and citizenship. The Faculty will engage in productive dialogue with different groups in society and will, to a greater extent, include citizens in research. This will increase knowledge sharing, provide valuable contributions to research, as well as create opportunities for active involvement of the community. 

HF will equip students with skills that they can utilize in a future labour market. Key qualifications are strong academic skills, an ability for critical reflection, context awareness, digital skills, oral and written communication skills, and a capacity for collaboration and creative thinking. The content of the study programmes must ensure that the students achieve these qualifications. Student-active learning methods will help build the students’ academic self-confidence and competence.

Through academic collaboration at HF and the University of Oslo, and through collaboration with external parties, HF’s education will become even more relevant for society – and the students more aware of their own expertise. Better contact with alumni and potential employers will contribute to showing different career paths for the students and integrate external perspectives into both teaching and the development of study programmes. The students will graduate with strong job application skills, a good network and knowledge that is put to use in society.

In order for HF to offer outstanding education programmes, research and education must be more closely linked. More students will be involved in research and research projects. This will give the students valuable expertise and experience, as well as make the research more relevant. Teaching methods that are connected to the research process shall  be developed and used in all HF’s study programmes.

Lifelong learning is increasingly defined as part of the Faculty’s social mission, and HF will contribute to ensuring that our rapidly changing society has relevant, up-to-date expertise. The Faculty must seize the opportunities that are opening up in the field of continuing and further education and establish study offers that are in demand and relevant. Schools are an important collaboration partner, but HF will also offer continuing and further education to other parts of working life and society. These offers must be aligned with HF’s portfolio and must not divert resources away from ordinary teaching. The focus will be on offers that can be developed in parallel with or be integrated into existing education programmes.

Digitalisation and technology

The computer-driven society offers new opportunities and places new demands on us as individuals and as a society. It also creates new dilemmas. It is especially in the interaction between man and machine and in the ethical and political perspectives that arise in this interaction that the humanities has its relevance. In the coming years, research methods and courses will be dominated by digitalisation, and the education programmes and administration will become even more digitalised.

HF has strong technology environments, but needs to become even stronger in this area. The Faculty will make sustainable use of new technology in research and take greater ownership to research that deals with and makes use of technology. This requires the use and development of relevant infrastructures, such as databases and laboratories. HF will work systematically on the development and administration of digital resources, which will include collaborating with centres of expertise outside the Faculty.

Open research is largely driven by new technologies. This includes not only free access to publications but also the sharing of data, methods and teaching materials. To ensure better research, HF’s researchers must be more transparent about their research processes. Research material must also be available for use in teaching and dissemination.

HF will use digital tools to raise the quality of education programmes and to ensure a better deployment of teaching resources in a way that benefits the students. HF will have a learning centre to develop and support the use of digital teaching methods and be an arena for skills development, experience sharing and discussion about teaching.

All those who are heading out into working life need digital skills. Through their education, students will gain experience in using various digital tools that will give them the skills that they need in the workplace.

A more flexible organisation

The organisational structure of the University and the Faculty impedes collaboration across the organisation. Financial leeway and an organisation that enables interdisciplinary collaboration are prerequisites for achieving the Faculty’s goals.

The Faculty must facilitate innovative research and educational collaboration through administrative support and incentives. HF will meet the challenges ahead by making better use of our resources across the organisation, working smarter and using appropriate tools.

Over the next ten years, the organisation needs to become more flexible. The Faculty must identify obstacles to academic and administrative collaboration and draw up a plan for how these obstacles can be removed.  HF must set priorities and make organisational changes that will promote interaction between disciplines and organisational units.