An energizing connection to Norway


David L. Dodds

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An energizing connection to Norway

UND's Institute for Energy Studies and University of Bergen sign pact to promote student, faculty exchanges

The pipeline between the University of North Dakota and Norway just got a little wider with the signing of a student and faculty exchange agreement that centers on petroleum research and synergistic opportunities in the social sciences.

Hesham El-Rewini, dean UND's College of Engineering and Mines, which oversees the Institute of Energy Studies (IES) and petroleum engineering programs, on Tuesday, March 19, signed a memorandum of understanding with Pål Davidsen, a faculty member with the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Bergen (UiB) in Bergen, Norway. The signing paves the way for two academic and research powerhouses to collaborate efforts on teaching, learning and research aimed at a wide range of energy opportunities and challenges.

Diverse stakeholders in dynamically complex systems appreciate the power of the System-Dynamics approach because it allows them to work together to develop a holistic structural representation of the system in a computer model, according to Scott Johnson, principal advisor at IES, an instructor in the petroleum engineering department and a former graduate students at UiB. Following testing and validation, stakeholders then have a tool to jointly explore how choices will address system opportunities and challenges.

"If you are not looking for opportunities like this, that's when you start to have problems,"said Davidsen, who represented Knut Helland, dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at (UiB), at Tuesday's signing event.

UND already has a number of academic and cultural links to Norway, including a popular faculty and student exchange program with the American College of Norway in Moss, Norway. UND's Chester Fritz Library Department of Special Collections also is home to the world's largest collection of Bygdebøker, compilations of local Norwegian genealogical, cultural and geographical information – thanks to Arne Brekke, a Norwegian immigrant, former UND languages professor and successful tour business proprietor.

El-Rewini said that, beyond the expertise that both institutions can provide each other, UND students and faculty will benefit from working and studying in a different culture in Norway, one of the world's largest oil-producing countries. Scholars from UiB, in turn, gain a foothold close by North Dakota's oil-soaked Bakken formation, one of the largest sources of shale oil and natural gas in North America. They also gain access to a host of unique opportunities and challenges in and around the Bakken to study and to develop master's and Ph.D. theses.

Joining El-Rewini and Davidsen at the signing event were Steve Benson, director of UND's IES and chair of the UND Department of Petroleum Engineering; and Scott Johnson. UND Vice President for Research and Economic Development Phyllis Johnson and Wayne Swisher, interim dean of the UND School of Graduate Studies, also attended.

The agreement between UND and UiB is the initial part of what could become a much broader research and exchange relationship between the two institutions.

David Dodds

University Relations writer

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