Olav Njølstad, a professor at the University of Oslo who has written several books including some acclaimed biographies, will take over as director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute in January. He’ll also serve as secretary to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which chooses the Nobel Peace Prize every October.
Njølstad, age 57, has a PhD in history and is a fellow of the Norwegian Research Council. He’s also worked as a research fellow at Ohio State University in the US, been a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Defence Studies and been research director at the Nobel Institute in Oslo. Now he’ll succeed the retiring Geir Lundestad as the institute’s top administrator.
In addition to writing several textbooks and articles on topics such as the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and postwar history in Norway, Njølstad has authored two biographes, one on resistance hero and politician Jens Christian Hauge and the other on professor Leif Tronstad. He’s currently working on a biography of former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.
He’s also edited a book on Norwegian Nobel Prize laureates and his doctoral thesis in 1994 covered US policies towards the former Soviet Union during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, with emphasis on human rights. On the lighter side, he’s also written two thrillers.
Njølstad was one of 12 initial applicants for the job, five of whom were considered as having “the scholarly qualifications,” according to the committee. He’ll take on his new high-profile job at the Nobel Institute from January 1.