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Traditions and transformations in the sustainability of rural communities

September 13 - September 16


Traditions and transformations in the sustainability of rural communities: Balancing Living Culture and Nature speaks to both the history and future of rural communities. The waterfalls, fjords and lakes of Telemark became the heart of industrialization with the harnessing of hydropower. A canal cut into the heart of the region to serve the growing industries in Notodden and Rjukan. The steep slopes and high mountains that cradled the romantic notion of Norwegian national culture were transformed from pastoral idyll to an industrial landscape. Now these industrial landscapes have been designated UNESCO world heritage. This heralds yet another transformation of economy in times that call for ecological, social and cultural sustainability.

The theme of the conference is to promote sustainability in rural communities that are struggling under the forces of globalization. By sustainability, we mean the interplay between society, culture, economy and ecology. We wish to address the complexity of multi-level, multi-interest, multifaceted choices and challenges involved in how traditions and transformations affect sustainability.

Livelihood opportunities and the question of choice and control are central to the multiple agendas for rural development. The agents associated with those agendas are diverse and often distant. At this nexus lies place-based development, local democracy, the ethos of endogenous development and the fundamental imperatives of the region’s natural systems themselves.

These transformations raise questions such as, but not limited to:

  • What is the creative and innovative balance between livelihoods, natural systems and a changing place culture?
    • How to promote sustainability in rural entrepreneurship and development?
  • How is “sustainable development” co-constructed in such challenging contexts?
    • How to initiate and sustain collaboration between different actors in various local and regional sectors?
    • What are the impacts when global heritage policies meet local cultural policies and cultural traditions?
  • What is the role of a rural aesthetic and ethic in the use and protection of cultural and natural assets?
    • How to use natural and cultural heritage in the experience economy?
    • What role does Friluftsliv/Outdoor life play in transforming rural communities?

Organizers wish to attract actors from the private, public and civic sectors as well as researchers, developers and educators from the academic community to the conference. We invite student and community participation and the conference sessions will take place in a variety of settings. The North Atlantic Forum aims to be trans-sectoral and welcomes paper and poster proposals on a variety of topics connected to the conference theme.

The 11th North Atlantic Forum conference will be held in beautiful Bø in Telemark, Norway -13.-16. September 2017.


September 13
September 16
Event Category:


North Atlantic Forum


University College of Southeast – Norway, Campus Bø
, Norway

The calendar of events is supported by the Rural Policy Learning Commons (RPLC). For more information on RPLC visit