Department of Comparative Politics

Founding of the department

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The political and social sciences have not existed in Norway for a long time. Neither political science nor sociology existed as an independent science in Norway before World War II. Compared with many countries, Norway was a late-comer. The decisive step to make political science an independent discipline was taken by law professor Frede Castberg at the University of Oslo in 1947. In the beginning, historians and law professors were responsible for the instruction. The first reader in political science, Thomas Wyller, was appointed to the post in 1957 and the first professor, Knut Dahl Jacobsen, was appointed in 1965. Three years later, Dahl Jacobsen moved to the University of Bergen where he became a professor in Public Administration and Organisation. Thus, until 1967, the discipline of political science was limited to only the University of Oslo.


Based on the 1964 Committee Report on promoting the social sciences at the University of Bergen, there existed the foundation for the development of higher education within psychology, law, economics, social studies and information theory as well as political science, which from the very beginning was divided into two distinct fields: comparative politics in addition to administration and organisation theory (both of these fields were clearly different in method and content from political science in Oslo). Anthropology and geography were set up a few years earlier. Later, positions in social politics and social administration, regional government, mass communications, statistics for social sciences, health administration and public health were established.

The Department of Sociology containing the two political sciences, sociology, economics, information theory and social studies, was officially founded January 1, 1967. The combined department was a new phenomenon both in Norwegian and international academia. The organisational model was thought to encourage both specialisation and interdisciplinary work.

The University of Bergen initiated a new model of the second university degree candidatus politicarum (cand.polit.) in 1966. This model is also adapted by the three other universities in Norway. The new degree opened the door for even broader studies than the older degree magister grade gave possibilities to.

The first exam in social studies in Bergen was held in the autumn of 1967, taken by twelve students. The introductory programme of one year's duration at the undergraduate level in Social studies was originally thought of as a common introductory programme for further social science studies in Bergen. For a variety of reasons this educational model fell apart. Gradually each discipline had its own introductory programmes.

The number of both teaching staff and students grew quickly by the end of the 1960's and in the beginning of the 1970's. By the fall of 1972, the Department had over 400 students and 28 employees in scientific and technical/administrative positions. The Department was becoming little by little a very large and complicated organisation.

Information theory separated and set up its own department in 1973, Economics in 1977 and the Department of Sociology was renamed as the Department of Sociology and Political Science in 1977. In the following years, the Department had sections for Sociology, Public Administration and Organisational Theory and Comparative Politics, all with a common governing board. From 1980 on, the sections were separated and set up as their own, independent departments. The Department of Comparative Politics has thus existed since January 1, 1980.