Staff and Leadership

Joe Underhill, Program Director, Nobel Peace Prize Forum Minneapolis

Prof. Underhill has taught courses in political science, environmental science, and international relations, and helped create the Peace and Global Studies program, the Environmental Studies Program, and the Model UN Program at Augsburg.  As the Batalden Faculty Scholar in Applied Ethics (2010-12), Underhill worked with Egyptian and Somali youth in the Twin Cities on projects relating to civic engagement and empowerment.  He has led study-abroad courses in New Zealand, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Egypt, and Tanzania as well as a semester-long study-away course down the Mississippi River.

In 2016 Underhill was recognized with the Distinguished Contributions Award in Teaching.  He is the author of Death and the Statesman: The Culture and Psychology of U.S. Leaders during War, and numerous articles and papers related to international peace and security, experiential pedagogy, and environmental politics and is a frequent presenter at local and national conferences.  The highlight of his work with the Forum has been to provide students with the opportunity to meet with and learn directly from Nobel laureates such as Jimmy Carter, Jody Williams, Beatrice Fihn, Martti Ahtisaari, and Wangari Maathai.


Bettine Hoff Hermanson, Managing Director, Nobel Peace Prize Forum Minneapolis

Bettine Hoff Hermanson served as the Academic Liaison and Program Associate at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum Minneapolis before being appointed Managing Director. She holds over twelve years experience consulting several non-profit organizations, groups and individuals. This long-term consulting practice provided her with a strong understanding of educational and administrative operations, including tools for creating and managing successful programs, collaborations and partnerships from inception to implementation. Hoff Hermanson taught Norwegian at Augsburg University, and she is a contributor to the ARTFUL Teaching and Learning: Student Achievement Through the Arts Handbook, which was first published the summer of 2005. In addition, she has developed content for Artful Online, a collection of arts education resources that support and document teaching, learning, and facilitating in K-20 classrooms.

As a native Norwegian, Hoff Hermanson started her education in Norway at the University of Oslo and later transferred to St. Olaf College, Minnesota, where she received her undergraduate degree in Sociology. She continued her education in Norway, and received a degree in Social Work at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA).


Olav Njølstad, Director, Norwegian Nobel Institute; Secretary, Norwegian Nobel Committee


Prof. Olav Njølstad teaches western contemporary history and international politics at the University of Oslo. He has been a Norwegian Research Council fellow, a research fellow at Ohio University, a researcher and senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute for Defense Studies, and previously served as the Research Director at the Norwegian Nobel Institute. In 2011-12, he served as senior advisor to the 22 July Commission, which looked into the tragic shooting that occurred on that date in Norway.

Njølstad has published a number of academic books and articles on topics such as the Cold War, the role of nuclear weapons in international politics, arms races and disarmament, the history of military and civilian technology, as well as the Second World War and Norwegian postwar history. Njølstad has authored two biographies, about Jens Hauge and professor Leif Tronstad, and he is working on a biography of Gro Harlem Brundtland. He has also edited a book on Norwegian Nobel Prize laureates, from Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson to Finn Kydland, as well as several works of fiction.

Njølstad has a Ph.D. in History, having completed a thesis on the many dimensions of U.S. – Soviet relations during the Carter presidency, including human rights, the relationship to China, the strategic military balance, and regional conflicts in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. In 2010, Njølstad received the Sverre Steen award for excellence in the dissemination of history to the general public.