International Student Festival in Trondheim

The International Student Festival in Trondheim
Genre Student festival
Location(s) Trondheim, Norway
Years active 1990-Present

ISFiT - The International Student Festival in Trondheim, Norway is the world's largest student festival with a thematic emphasis.[1] Approximately 450 students from all over the world attend the festival.[2] The themes change with each festival, but have always been related to social and political topics with international relevance.

The stated purpose of ISFiT is to be a meeting place for discussion and debate, an arena where ideas are born, friendships are made and valuable lessons are learned.[2] The festival aims at fostering inspiration and being a starting point for international cooperation amongst students. ISFiT is a non-profit festival.[2]

The ISFiT participants take part in different workshops, which highlight the festival theme in various ways. Several lectures and thematic meetings are arranged, where well-known international speakers share their views with the participants and others.

ISFiT has been arranged in Trondheim, Norway every second year since 1990. More than 450 students work voluntarily in order to organize the festival.


The idea of an international student festival in Trondheim came to life in 1988. The thought was to gather students from different parts of the world in a combination of a conference and a festival.[3]

The theme of ISFiT 1990 was "A Changing Europe -- What are the Roles and Responsibilities of the Students and their Universities?," a timely theme, considering that the Berlin Wall fell shortly before the festival was held. Gro Harlem Brundtland opened the festival. ISFiT arranged for two trains, one from Budapest and one from Paris, to transport 375 students from all over Europe to Trondheim. For many of the participants, this was their first visit outside the Iron Curtain. This train ride has later been called "The ISFiT Rail".

In 1992, ISFiT had already established its name in the world. More than 4,300 applications were addressed to Trondheim from students all over the world. Norwegian Minister of Education and Research Gudmund Hernes opened the festival.

In 1994, the Dalai Lama visited ISFiT after he had received a visit from dedicated ISFiT representatives, who went to India and spent days outside his office until they got a 10-minute meeting with him. He was reported to have replied, "Cancel my other appointments. This is more important." [4][5] 1994 was also the year that ISFiT started to offer financial support, so that participants from even more countries could come to the festival. The Dalai Lama visited the Festival for the second time in 2015. [6]

The Dialogue Groups were first introduced in 1997. Since then, the Dialogue Groups have been a seminar where participants from different sides of a conflict get to meet at neutral ground to share their experiences and discuss possible solutions to the conflict.

In 1999 The Student Peace Prize was awarded for the first time. Since then, the prize has been given every second year on behalf of all Norwegian students. Antero Benedito da Silva from East Timor was the first laureate. He received the award for his non-violent battle against the Indonesian occupation.

Many world figures have attended ISFiT, and past speakers include former Director-General of WHO Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates José Ramos-Horta, Wangari Maathai,[7] Desmond Tutu,[8] Betty Williams[9] and Shirin Ebadi.[10] Former US president Bill Clinton has participated via video conference.[11]

Since 2003, the festival has had participants from more than a hundred countries.[12]


A book pile illustrating the theme of the festival of 2005, "Education, why?".


Logo of the ISFiT Festival.

ISFiT 2009 was held from 20 February to 1 March in Trondheim, Norway. This was the 10th ISFiT-festival, the first was held in 1990. ISFiT is one of the world’s largest student festival with a thematic focus. Approximately 450 students from all over the world attend the festival. More than 350 students in Trondheim work voluntarily for the student festival. Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Desmond Tutu, Dr. Shirin Ebadi and Betty Williams are some of the introductory speakers at the festival.

The theme for ISFiT 2009 was peacebuilding. The thematic focus was illuminated through both the workshops and the meetings during the festival in addition to the cultural programme. According to the theme document “ISFIT 2009 sees peacebuilding as a long-term process, with the object to create a stable and lasting peace, a peace that is something more than just an absence of war. Peacebuilding shall create a solid foundation for a peaceful development, as well as increase the society’s ability to cope with conflicts in a peaceful way. ISFIT 2009 recognizes peace building both as a preventative process as well as a process of rebuilding. Peacebuilding appears between different actors on global, regional, national, local and interpersonal level.” <>

The Dialogue Groups 2009 kicked off 10 days before ISFiT 2009 with a seminar at Røros, and continued into the festival in Trondheim. In 2009 students from Israel/Palestine, Cyprus and Georgia/Abkhazia were invited to take part in the Dialogue Groups.

In addition to the workshops and the dialogue groups there were several lectures and thematic meetings, as well as concerts, exhibitions and performing arts.

Through the workshops all the participants of the festival will attend the different workshops. The workshops will highlight the festival themes in different ways. The workshops of ISFiT 2009 were:

Cultural Programme

Hanne Hukkelberg's concert in Nidarosdomen, February 22, 2007.

ISFiT is a combination of a festival and a conference, and has been offering a wide cultural program since the festival started in 1990. ISFiT is an international festival and a meeting place, and the cultural program is characterized by this. The cultural program creates an arena where the participants get the opportunity to break down cultural barriers. ISFiT offers both concerts, art and performing arts. There are also ceremonies held at the start and the end of the festival, as well as a ceremony for the Student Peace Prize.

A diversity of concerts is arranged during ISFiT, both at the Student Society and external scenes, like the Nidaros Cathedral.

ISFiT aims to be a place where "the leaders of today meet the leaders of tomorrow."[14] During ISFiT, several plenary sessions are held. The plenary sessions aims to be a place to be inspired, a place to learn, a place to discuss global issues, and a place to be heard.


The workshops consist of smaller groups of 20-30 students from different countries. During the workshops, the participants collectively acquire knowledge of the workshop theme, as well as cultural differences and similarities, through a variety of methods. The workshops also have the opportunity to invite famous and knowledgeable people from all over the world to start and lead discussion and debate.

Student Peace Prize

The Student Peace Prize is awarded biennially to a student or a student organization that has made a significant contribution to creating peace and promoting human rights. The prize is awarded on behalf of all Norwegian students, and is administered by the Student Peace Prize Secretariat in Trondheim, which is a part of the ISFiT-organization, and which appoints a national nominations committee with representatives from universities and colleges in Norway, as well as an independent Peace Prize Committee that awards the prize. The award ceremony takes place during ISFiT and is one of the main events of the festival.

Dialogue Groups

The Dialogue Groups is an initiative to peace building in practice. The Dialogue Groups invite students from different sides of conflicts to meet on equal grounds for sharing of experiences and dialogue.

South Africa, Guatemala, Northern Ireland, Colombia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Kashmir, Israel, Palestine, Sri Lanka, Balkan and Russia/Chechnya, Iran/USA, Ethiopia/Eritrea, Sudan, the Great Lakes region (Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo), Georgia/Abkhazia and Cyprus have been represented since 1997.

The Dialogue leaders and facilitators are Norwegian students who have theoretical and practical training in using dialogue as a tool for constructive communication and conflict resolution. External experts and professional mediators will also be used in parts of the seminar.


External links

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