The need for a new center at Berkeley to foster and manage academic exchanges with Norway became increasingly apparent within the last few years. The numbers of Norwegian professors and students visiting, researching, and studying at UC Berkeley had been on the rise for several years, many of them invited to campus by UC Professor of Sociology, Trond Petersen, himself a native of Norway, who currently serves as the inaugural Academic Director of the Peder Sather Center. The choice of the name – The Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study – drew inspiration from the life of Peder Sather (1810-1886), one of the earliest trustees of the University of California. Interest in this successful and public-spirited Norwegian immigrant was given new impetus in 2011 by the publication in Norway of the first authoritative Sather biography, Mannen i Montgomery Street by the noted Norwegian woman of letters, Karin Sveen (English translation The Immigrant and the University: Peder Sather and Goldrush California, University of California Press 2013). See more about Peder Sather.
The idea for the Center had early support from Berkeley’s leaders, providing that sufficient funding could be secured to guarantee its success. Professor Petersen and his colleague Professor Liv Duesund, of the Department of Special Needs Education of the University of Oslo, jointly took leadership for the project. They approached various government ministries and other potential sponsors in Norway over a period of years. Animated in particular by Professor Duesund’s entrepreneurial spirit, the idea captured the imagination of academic and governmental leaders in Norway, and, in May 2012, the Norwegian National Research Council and nine Norwegian institutions of higher education signed a formal agreement with UC Berkeley to create the Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study. The Center became active with the start of the 2012-2013 academic year.
Professor Trond Petersen, a member of the UC Berkeley faculty, is the Academic Director of the Peder Sather Center. Professor Liv Duesund, of the University of Oslo, is the Special Advisor to the Center. Executive Director is Dr. Akasemi Newsome.
Culminating a more than ten-year cooperation between UC Berkeley and Norway, the Center was formally established in May, 2012, with the signing of a partnership agreement. The agreement serves as the guiding document for both parties, outlining the Center’s operating principles, its leadership structures, and how its activities will be governed over time.
For UC Berkeley, the Chancellor has delegated the authority for program details to the Deans of the four academic divisions of the College of Letters & Science (Arts & Humanities, Biological Sciences, Mathematical & Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences), with the Executive Dean of the College serving as their spokesperson and the Dean of Social Sciences serving as lead for the project.
For Norway, a Norwegian Consortium has been established. The Norwegian Peder Sather consortium consists of the following members: the Research Council of Norway, Norwegian Business School (BI), Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), University of Agder, University of Bergen, University of Oslo, University of Stavanger, and UIT The Arctic University of Norway. The Norwegian Consortium is guided by its own by-laws, which articulate the role of the Consortium Board, Consortium Board Chair, and the Secretariat.
The Center has established two coordinating bodies whose purpose is to ensure that the concerns and perspectives of all supporting institutions are well represented – a Norwegian Advisory Board and a UC Berkeley Advisory Board.