Knut Kjeldstadli, professor of history at the University of Oslo (UiO), served as a project leader at CAS during the 2013/14 academic year. His project, Globalisation and the Possibility of Transnational Actors -- The Case of Trade Unions, brought together a small group of six other social scientists and historians to explore how trade unions have adapted to an increasingly globalised world. 

Following his year at CAS, Kjelstadli returned to UiO to continue his work on topics such as cultural history, migration and labour movements.

He looked back on his stay at the Centre in an interview last month.

What do you remember best from your year at CAS?

We hosted an international conference that February that was very successful. There were several great presentations that led to the publication of a book -- Labour and Transnational Action in Times of Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield) -- and two editions of scholarly journals.

Another thing I remember well was when I invited everyone to go stay at a cabin. We rode a minivan up there, and the driver took a wrong turn and got stuck. It was the middle of the night. Roland Erne [a professor at University College Dublin], a two metre-tall Swiss scholar, was able to pull us back out of the ditch.

Why did you apply to CAS?

Some of my fields of study include migration, movement across borders, and labour history and the history of collective movements. For me, the stay at CAS was a merging of those research interests.

There was a desire on my part to involve people who could work on these topics well into the future -- young Norwegian historians. It was an investment in future knowledge. I wanted to give them an opportunity to grow their competencies. They have in different ways carried on the work that began at the Centre.

What advice would you give to future project leaders at CAS?

I focused on assembling a core group of relatively few scholars. Other project leaders invite many more. I don’t have an opinion on which is the correct strategy, but I enjoyed the calm atmosphere in our group.

There weren’t that many of us -- a Swiss, a Canadian-Romanian woman, an Irishman, all three working in Dublin. A German living in Nottingham. What was interesting about the international scholars was that you gained insight into the life of people pursuing a high-mobility career. It was a glimpse into a life that can be really stressful.

If there are fellows who will be at the Centre for long periods of time, involve them in the day-to-day duties and tasks of running the project. One of our fellows organised a seminar with international attendees. Another served as the point of contact for academic communities and labour unions in Norway. A third ran our internal group meetings. Instead of being stuck with all the responsibility, spread the work around.