The Norwegian Academy of Literature and Freedom of Expression The Academy was founded in 2003, initiated by the poet Knut Ødegård. The background being that Norway, contrary to many other countries, lacked a free and independent academy of literature.
The Academy is namned after the Nobel Prize Winner Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, and shall according to its statutes cover the area between the art of writing and the engagement in current society issues. The work has mainly been centred around larger international seminars and in publishing a series of essays related to the topics raised by these seminars.
The Board of the Academy awards on a yearly basis one of Norway´s largest prizes in the cultural sphere, the Bjørnson Prize. The Board of the Academy consists at present (2016) of: Kristenn Einarsson (president), Peter Normann Waage (vice president), Hege Newth Nouri, Mette Karlsvik, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Endre Ruset and Kari Vogt.
Head of administration is Ine Harrang. The Academy has arranged a number of seminars. Among its themes we find dialogue between religious groups in the Mideast, the situation for gypsies, the Armenians’ situation, poetry as a literary genre and its endangered position, anti-Semitism, the condition for the right of speech in Russia, the ravaging of neocapitalism in Iceland as an example, medical ethics and the right to be born, the Mideast after “the Arabian Spring”, how war destroys our common cultural heritage, the miscarriage of justice, war journalism and last year’s seminar on surveillance.