Gå til innhold
What’s in a good life? 2nd cross-sectional conference

What’s in a good life? 2nd cross-sectional conference

Welcome to the 2nd biannual cross-sectional conference What’s in a good life? located at Ansgar University College in Kristiansand, Norway 13-14 June 2024. The topic of the 2024-conference is relationships and we wish to explore the question What’s in relationships? from different perspectives and disciplines.

“What’s in a good life” is an open-ended question that reflects a humanistic approach to research within multiple fields. In this conference, we wish to shed light on the question from the fields of psychology, philosophy, theology, intercultural studies, music and arts. In addition to paper presentations from the individual fields, the conference will facilitate cross-sectional dialogues on the conference topic.

Hilde Vinje is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Agder. She obtained her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Oslo, where she wrote her dissertation of the understanding of the good life in ancient philosophy. Her main research interests are within the history of philosophy, and she is particularly interested in questions concerning the philosophy of Aristotle. Her most recent publications  include articles exploring the notion of eudaimonia, as well as the Norwegian book Én svale gjør ingen sommer: Filosofi om lykke (‘One Swallow Does Not Make a Spring: Philosophy on Happiness’, 2022).
Kjetil Klette-Bøhler is Professor of Music at the University of South-East Norway. He researches the relationship between music, culture and politics with a particular focus on groove-based Afro-Latin musics from Cuba and Brazil. He also does research on cultural policy, musical pleasure and welfare sociology related to citizenship and social exclusion. Klette-Bøhler worked seven years as a researcher at NOVA: Norwegian Social Research (2015-2022). His latest books include Citizenship and Social Exclusion (Routledge 2023), and Festivalpolitikk i endring (Vigmostad & Bjørke, 2023). Klette-Bøhlers current book project Groove Politics: Pleasure and Participation in Cuban Dance Music explores musical pleasure in groove based musics as a mode of cultural politics. He is currently working on a larger film about jingles, musical pleasure and manipulation in election campaigns related to his current research project on Jingles and Politics, which is funded by the Norwegian Research Council.
Foto: Lars Kruse
Ulrik Nissen is an Associate Professor at Aarhus University. He is currently writing a monograph with the provisional working title The Responsive Body. The aim of the book is to argue for a normative concept of the responsiveness of the human body and show what this implies for both the origins, reality and end of the life. The book draws on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's ethical theology, contemporary phenomenological thought, and theological bioethics. Nissen has also written Kærlighedens ansvar (2022), a book on how the Christian love shapes and forms our common human responsibility and responsivity, and The Polity of Christ. Studies on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Chalcedonian Christology and Ethics (Bloomsbury T&T Clark 2020).
Download program here.
Updated June 6th

In alphabetical order:

Anne Karine Råmunddal
Beate Helmikstøl
Bodil Nørsett
Cato Gulaker
Daniel Aas Brændeland
Geraldine Ng
Helen Kolb
Helene Waage
Helene Waage and Marit Stranden
Hildegunn Seip
Hildegunn Seip, Lars Mandelkow, Liv Hilde Myrset Briså and Dagfinn Ulland (symposium)
Jarle Waldemar
Jo Bertil R. Værnesbranden
Kjetil Klette Bøhler
Knut Edvard Moe
Kristi Stedje
Lars Mandelkow
Lorraine K.C. Yeung
Maria Ledstam
Marie S. Skånland
Mark Jensen
Martin Jakobsen
Merete Holme
Nicholas Baima and Sarah Malanowski
Odd Kenneth Hillesund
Solveig Hessaa-Szwinto
Tommy Wasserman
Torstein Try
Van Tu


Anne Karine Råmunddal Music in early caregiver-child relationships, a study from Bhutan

This paper addresses local practices, traditions, and perspectives of using music as part of early caregiver-child relationships in Bhutan, where this phenomenon seems to be unexplored. The quality of caregiver–child relationships in the early developing years is vital for positive Child Development and health later in life. This presentation is based on twelve qualitative interviews with 6 health workers and 6 musicians from Bhutan. Health workers were recruited from Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck Mother and Child Clinic in Thimpu and musicians by a local musician and project partner. Bhutan is a rapidly changing society and has gone from being one of the world’s least-developed countries in 1960 to becoming a middle-income country today. There are more than 20 linguistic groups in Bhutan each with its own cultural, and religious practices and music traditions. The study shows that there are rich traditions for folksongs and dances in which children participate and that several linguistic groups share common traditions for singing infants to sleep. A few play songs are also described by the interviewees. Participants describe a society characterized by cultural globalization, immigration, technology development, and accessibility to music through gadgets and internet platforms such as YouTube. This paper discusses perspectives and practices of music in early relationships in Bhutan from a Music and Health perspective and is a part of the Ph.D. study: “Music for Health and Wellbeing in Early Childhood Community Service at the National Referral Hospital in Bhutan: An Exploratory Study."

Bio: Anne K.R Kippenes is a Music Therapist and a Ph.D. candidate at The Norwegian Academy of Music, with funding from The Progreso Foundation. Anne is also a pedagogue, specialized in Special Education and Early Childhood. She has worked for more than 20 years with Early Intervention (children 0-6 years).


Beate Helmikstøl The Dysregulated Infant

Multiple regulatory problems, defined as persistent excessive crying, sleeping and feeding problems, and sensory sensitivity, pose a significant source of worry and exhaustion for parents. In this study we explore the developmental trajectory of dysregulation problems, measured with the Infant Toddler Social Emotional Assessment (ITSEA) from infancy (18 months) into toddlerhood (3 years) in relation to maternal prenatal risk factors, measured with a cumulative risk index (CRI). The sample consists of 1036 women taking part in the Little in Norway Study, a prospective longitudinal community-based cohort study from pregnancy to 3 years postpartum. Using latent change score modelling, we found that an accumulation of prenatal maternal risks was associated with child dysregulation at 3 years, but to a lesser degree at 18 months. Further, prenatal cumulative risk predicted the change in dysregulation level between the two measurement points, indicating an accelleration of dysregulation problems with time. Effect sizes were small, but significant. The impact of exposure to prenatal risks progressively unfolds over time. Potential mechanisms will be discussed.

Bio: Beate Helmikstøl is a clinical psychologist, a PhD-scholar and an Assistant Professor in psychology at Ansgar University College, Norway.


Bodil Nørsett How can sustainable assessment change the student-teacher relations in assessment of popular music performance?

What defines the teacher-student relation in a teacher-oriented assessment of music performance, and how is this relation likely to change if the assessment practice turns to be more student-oriented and sustainable? Performing music students wants assessment and feedback, and assessment of music performance in higher popular music education is crucial to the students’ learning and development. Current assessment paradigms in higher education are assessment of learning (AoL), assessment for learning (AfL) and assessment as learning (AsL). Assessment as learning includes AoL and AfL, and can also be defined as sustainable assessment, where the students are included in the assessment activities to be able to learn self-assessment and peer assessment for lifelong learning. The pedagogical development in Norwegian higher popular music education pedagogies is heading towards a student-centered teaching more than the teacher-oriented (canon), traditional classical music teaching. Despite this, I will argue that the current music performance assessment practices in Norwegian higher popular music educations are teacher oriented and call for a change towards student-oriented and sustainable assessment.

Bio: Bodil Nørsett is a phd-scholar and an Assistant Professor in music at Ansgar University College. She is also a singer and a choir conductor.


Cato Gulaker Tough love - Temptation and the Goodness of God in Luke

To Luke, the good relationship between God and humankind is very much a painful one. This paper explores how divinely imposed suffering is made compatible with the explicitly stated goodness of God in Luke’s writings. It argues that the cosmological premises of the Hebrew Bible and related traditions are utilized to correlate the goodness of God with the hardships and difficulties of the believing community as conveyed to the narrative’s intrafictional narratée – Theophilus. The motif of the testing of God’s elect and the use of Satan as one of several ways of achieving this are given more attention in the writings of Luke than in the other New Testament writings, apart from Revelation. The paper explores how this comes to show in the narrative and problematizes the many efforts to downplay this element by favoring alternative readings with little basis in the text itself. The reluctance to acknowledge the imposing of suffering as part of the way God governs his creation has greatly affected modern perceptions of the Biblical God - a view that stands at edge with the Biblical texts. Consequently, the last petition of the Lord’s prayer, more often than not, appears unintelligible for many Christians of today.

Bio: Cato Gulaker is Associate Professor at Ansgar University College and Theological Seminary where he currently serves as Dean of studies. He received his PhD from MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society. He is the author of "Satan, the Heavenly Adversary of Man: A Narrative Analysis of the Function of Satan in the Book of Revelation" (2020) and "Sexual Abstinence in the New Testament" (2022).


Daniel Aas Brændeland - The good life according to Paul

Does the letters of the apostle Paul offer a vision of the good life ? This paper aims to address this question by presenting Paul’s vision of the good life, with a view towards relationships. First, I argue that the absence of conventional terms such as “eudemonia”, and little to no engagement with earlier and contemporary philosophers, should not discount Paul as a valuable contributor in the discourse concerning human flourishing. Through the theologizing in his letters, Paul invites his audience to a particular way of living the good life. Second, I argue that at the heart of Paul’s vision of the good life, lies the person of Christ. Jesus Christ is the ultimate human, giving humanity and individuals their end goal. It is by Christ’s victory over the forces that hinder flourishing that the good life is made possible and ultimately fully realized. The eschatological and good end state for humanity and the world is made possible in the present by the mediation of God’s spirit. In short, living the good life is contingent on Jesus Christ, and further: a relationship with Him . At last, I present how Paul’s vision of the good life has implications for relationships. Although touched upon, neither friendship, romantic relationships nor family life is systematically worked through. However, Paul does lay a theological foundation for relationships integral to the good life: a new family and the new way of relating across socioeconomic, cultural, ethnic, and other boundaries.

Bio: Daniel Aas Brændeland is the pastor at Flekkerøy misjonskirke . He has a master’s degree in new testament studies from MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society. His master’s thesis was on Mark 10,35-40, exploring the implications for discipleship from Jesus’ exchange with the sons of Zebedee.


Geraldine Ng Authenticity and the Quarrel Between Diderot and Rousseau

The quarrel between Rousseau and Diderot started when in February 1775 Diderot sent Rousseau a copy of his new play Le fils naturel, in which one character says to another who, like Rousseau, had decided to live by himself in the country: “Look into your heart, and it will tell you that the good man is in society, and that only the bad man is alone.” (Bernard Williams 2002: 199) By good Diderot means authentic. Examining the contrasting models of sincerity drawn by Diderot and Rousseau, this paper tries to understand the questions raised by the search for authenticity. On Diderot’s social model of sincerity, a person X’s identity is not a matter of mere discovery or decision but, importantly, of acknowledgement. In the political dimension, X recognises a social identity. In the matter of personal projects, the question hangs on X’s attachments, loyalties, style of life, and such. For Diderot, the presence of others is essential for helping to construct or create truthfulness. Others’ shared values help to steady X’s feelings and beliefs. In making sense of her beliefs and allegiances in this light, X resists fantasy and steadily becomes what X has sincerely declared to others. (Williams 2002: 204) First, there is a question of how far social forces that are moving X toward acknowledgement of this identity are coercive. More positively, I argue that even where the presence of others is not so insistent, there is a sense of being constrained by something that lies outside the will. In her last reflections, Julie the heroine in Rousseau’s La nouvelle Héloïse, is conscious that she cannot make things up as she would wish things to be. There is a sense of the objective in personal as much as in political or social acknowledgements. We can put aside the quarrel between Diderot and Rousseau when we see that, for different reasons, the good person is hard to find wherever you look.

Bio: I am the founding Director of Philosophy Lab, www.philosophylab.co, an educational non-profit. I gained my PhD in philosophy in 2017 at the University of Reading. Before that I took my MA in philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, and the RIBA at the Architectural Association, London. Two of the three chapters of my PhD dissertation are published in collections on Bernard Williams. “The Irrelativism of Distance” in Ethics Beyond the Limits: New Essays on Bernard Williams, Sophie Grace Chappell and Marcel van Ackeren eds., Routledge, 2018. “Blame Without Reasons” in Morality and Agency: Themes from Bernard Williams, András Szigeti and Matthew Talbert eds. , OUP, 2022.


Helen KolbNegotiating a good life? – A Norwegian Case Study Exploring the Complexities of Children Seeking Help after Experiencing Abuse.

The concept of resilience continues to intrigue researchers. Ann Masten (2001) defines «resilience» as good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaptation or development. Ungar (2005, p. 429) suggests a different understanding of resilience emphasising “the adequate provision of health resources necessary to achieve good outcomes in spite of serious threat to adaptation and development”.

The Norwegian society with its welfare system is in many ways a prime example of structural advantage. At the same time, researchers caution against the assumption that these societal supports, generically associated with resilience, will have enduring protective value over time and across contexts (Collishaw et al., 2016; Eisman et al., 2015; Masten, 2014; Rutter, 2013), in other words, that societal supports directly imply resilience.

The increased understanding of context as an enabler or constrainer of resilience shows the necessity of understanding how and what, within the Norwegian society, effects the resilience of adolescents after they have experienced domestic violence.

In this study 16 adolescents were interviewed as part of a larger project, further resulting in a case study of two of the informants. A critical realist approach was applied in the data analysis which resulted in the identification of three resilience processes, in the form of dialectical tensions: 1) Seeking help vs. Coping alone, 2) Certainty vs. Uncertainty of what is being disclosed, and 3) Resignation (standing still) vs. Pressing on (future orientation).

These findings suggest that the discursive struggle within Norwegian society: The child as vulnerable vs. the child as capable effects the way disclosure is interpreted and acted upon. Helping institutions appear to emphasise the child as vulnerable, while others seem to focus on the child as capable.


Helene Waage Musified togetherness: Co-singing as a relational resource for people with dementia and their close ones

My PhD project, Musified togetherness – Co-singing in families living with dementia, explores potentials and implications of low-threshold daily-life singing for people living with dementia and their close ones and how they might use and experience singing as an integral part of communication and interaction in daily life. Accordingly, I propose the concept of co-singing to offer a supplemental approach to music and dementia, also used in a non-professional framework. While a growing body of research shows beneficial outcomes of musical measures in therapeutic and professional dementia care settings, there appears to be untapped potential concerning singing as a resource in a home-dwelling context. Based on music and dementia research, critical gerontology, posthuman theory, and neurophysiology and neuropsychology, I discuss and ground the concept of co-singing. Co-singing highlights singing as a relational activity and draws on people’s own experiences with singing. Inspired by participatory action research, I have also explored simple everyday singing activities in collaboration with a woman living with dementia and her adult daughter – based on their preferences and interests. These explotrations illustrate how co-singing can foster different forms of “musified togetherness”. Altogether, my PhD dissertation highlights affirmative and relational aspects of everyday singing for people with dementia and their close ones. “Co-singing” and various forms of “musified togetherness” serve as suitable frameworks for concepts and everyday practices in this context.

Bio: Helene Waage is a university lecturer at the National Resource Centre for Arts and Health. She has a long career as a versatile performing musician (cello, singing, Celtic harp) and therapeutic musician in ageing and dementia care. Helene has been a research fellow at the University of Agder and has recently defended a PhD dissertation concerning daily-life singing for people with dementia and their close ones.


Helene Waage and Marit Stranden - Music-based caregiving: A systematic musical and relational approach to caregiving

The educational programme for music-based caregiving (musikkbasert miljøbehandling in Norwegian) teaches healthcare staff to systematically use measures with integrated singing, music, and/or movement as daily care routines and activities (Myskja & Håpnes, 2016; https :/ /musikkbasertmiljobehandling.no/). The programme has offered seminars, courses and higher education throughout Norway since 2016 and reached more than 6 000 participants. The tender program is anchored in the governmental strategies to recruit and retain competent healthcare personnel and enhance quality of care. Practice experiences and research indicate that integrated use of the method may enhance communication and cooperation, leading to better flow and less uneasiness during care routines, and more satisfied recipients, relatives, and staff (Batt-Rawden et al. 2023). The focus of politicians and researchers is often on the clinical properties of musical measures and the reduction of adverse symptoms and behaviours. This paper highlights the relational and communicative aspects of and perspectives on music-based measures. Music-based caregiving fits seamlessly into the person-centred care model and leans on research within individualised music (e.g., Gerdner, 2005) and music-therapeutic caregiving (several studies by e.g. Götell and Hammar with collaborators). Examples show that music-based caregiving measures may contribute to meaningful activity, familiarity, and sensory stimulation and regulation for the care recipients. The measures can also facilitate better relations between a group of residents and between residents and caregivers. Furthermore, the individualised, adapted measures can provide an inner relationship for the resident by connecting the person with their body and senses and previous and present (embodied) musical memories, situations, and resources.

Bio: Helene Waage is a university lecturer at the National Resource Centre for Arts and Health. She has a long career as a versatile performing musician (cello, singing, Celtic harp) and therapeutic musician in ageing and dementia care. Helene has been a research fellow at the University of Agder and has recently defended a PhD dissertation concerning daily-life singing for people with dementia and their close ones.
Marit Stranden is the director of the National Resource Centre for Arts and Health and has a background in research, coordination, and management. She holds a PhD in neurophysiology and has worked in several research and teaching positions at NTNU and Nord University. Her research interest has turned towards public health and the role of culture in perceived quality of life and sustainability.


Hildegunn Seip - Cultural boundaries as helpers see them: Contextualizing encounters in social work

How do professional helpers identify and relate to perceived cultural difference in their work with young people not in education or employment? Young people ‘not in education, employment, or training’ (NEET) is a term discussed in youth and welfare studies, as a potentially marginalized group, and a potential social problem (Holte, 2018). A recent OECD report encourages Norway to do more to prevent this kind of marginalization and outsider status (OECD, 2018). Fyhn found that the support NEETs found most helpful is first and foremost relational (Fyhn et al., 2021). In this paper, we analyze and contextualize the interaction between young NEETs and the professionals whose job it is to help them. A thematic analysis is applied to a material consisting of written reflections and focus groups with professionals within the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration (NAV) and other public services who meet young people and try to help them ‘back on track’.We ask: What boundary work is at play in the encounters between professional helpers and young people not in education or employment, including visible minorities? When the professionals see ‘culture’ occuring as a potentially relevant factor in the encounter, how do they identify, understand and relate to it? What categorizations are activated, and do they help or hinder the relationship? (Magnussen, 2020). Understanding how symbolic or ethnic boundaries (Barth, 1969) are negotiated in these encounters, including moral or cultural explanations of ‘the other’, can shed light on relational experiences that may either be perceived as helpful or discriminating – and enable us as a society to help more helpfully.

Bio: Hildegunn Marie Tønnessen Seip is an associate professor of psychology at Ansgar University College in Kristiansand, Norway. She holds a PhD in psychology from the University of Oslo, and has a background within communication and peace and conflict studies. Her research interests are often cross-disciplinary, including intercultural communication, intergroup and minority psychology, and community-based health promotion.


Hildegunn Seip, Lars Mandelkow, Liv Hilde Myrset Briså and Dagfinn Ulland (symposium) - Existential care in professional relations

This symposium gathers academics and social workers who have been exploring how existential questions are included (or avoided) in relational work such as therapy, social work, and diaconal practice. Existential and religious issues can be relevant to address when helping people through big and small crises. One might think that religiously founded organizations would be well equipped to make room for such questions, but within the Nordic welfare states the Christian diaconal organizations in question also operate within a secular framework for social work. The symposium will include presentations of empirical work with youth and adults in different contexts, and a discussion between the panelists that all participants will be invited into. Discussion groups in English/Norwegian according to participants.


Jarle Waldemar - Pastoral Care in the Pentecostal Movement in Norway and Sweden 

The purpose of the study is to explore how pastoral care is understood in a Pentecostal Movement in Norway and Sweden today. Given the limited research in this area, it is appropriate to both describe current practices and simultaneously develop an adequate theoretical framework for Pentecostal pastoral care. This framework should take into account Pentecostal theology and practice, while also building upon established theory of pastoral care. The overall research question is:  How is pastoral care understood and practiced in the Pentecostal Movement in Norway and Sweden today in light of Pentecostal pneumatology?"

  1. Trialogical Pastoral Care: How do pastoral caregivers perceive the Holy Spirit and divine intervention in the pastoral care process, and how does this influence pastoral care conversations?
  2. Discernment: How do Pentecostal pastors discern the presence of the Spirit in pastoral care?
  3. Healthy and Unhealthy Practices: What reflections and experiences do pastors have regarding healthy Pentecostal pastoral care practices?

Bio: Waldemar is a theologian and educator. He is trained as a general education teacher and holds a master's degree in practical theology. He also has further education at the master's level in leadership, pedagogy, family therapy, pastoral care, and conflict management. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion, and Society.


Kjetil Klette Bøhler - Film Screening: Jingles as Affective Politics in Brazil’s 2022 Election

Directed and produced by: Kjetil Klette Bøhler, João Neves, Gabi Perissinotto, Marcel DaVelha

Jingles as Affective Politics in Brazil’s 2022 Election explores how political candidates used jingles to recruit voters in Brazil’s 2022 election. The film has a particular focus on Bolsonaro and Lula’s use of jingles, and how music created political awareness and affective mobilization among voter groups. It features in-depth interviews with influential jingle producers such as Hilton Acioli and Juliano Maderada, as well as with scholars working in the field of music and politics in Brazil. It also contains interviews with voters and volunteers that worked for different political campaigns. The film draws on material gathered throughout the 2022 election campaign, including film of political events, movements, street protests and other political events.


Jo Bertil R. Værnesbranden - “Thus I Willed It” – Failure, Suffering and the Good Life

How to incorporate resounding failure and sheer suffering into the life of a human being? How to live a good life amidst the memory of past failures and sufferings and in the acknowledgment that failure and suffering still awaits? The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, whose own life went from Professor at 24 to mental collapse at 44, grappled theoretically as well as practically with incorporating pain, failure and suffering into a wholesome living. Fiction, myth and illusion allows Nietzsche to reconcile with the past. He writes of redemption: “Die Vergangnen zu erlösen und alles ‚Es war‘ umzuschauen in ein ‚So wollte ich es!‘ – das hiesse mir erst Erlösung!“ (Friedrich Nietzsche, Also sprach Zarathustra (Köln: Anaconda Verlag, 2005), 107). That is, the only redemption Nietzsche acknowledges is the one able to respond to one’s truthful assessment of the past (“Es war”) with the words: “Thus I willed it!” (“So wollte ich es!”). In Nietzsche’s view, Christianity is a flight from pain and suffering (from this painful life into the next), not a redemption proper of this life. Christianity is in that sense life-denying. What can a Christian response be? First, that Nietzsche is partly right: The past must be redeemed, and not just crossed out. Secondly, that Nietzsche is partly wrong. Christian temporality is fundamentally different from the Greek: We do not live from the past, but from the future, and true redemption is a redemption of the future. That changes everything, including the past.

Bio: Jo Bertil Værnesbranden is a PhD Research Fellow in Systematic Theology at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society.


Knut Edvard Moe - Trinity and Human Relationships: Divine Apatheia and Social Trinitarianism

Can the relationships of the Trinity be viewed as a model for human relationships? Miroslav Volf has claimed that the relationship of the Father, Son, and Spirit is emulated in the relationship among people based on a social understanding of the Trinity. His critics object that this approach is epistemologically speculative in terms of knowledge of the divine relations in se, and that it opens the door for projecting one’s own ideals onto God. To resolve this tension, a fundamental question is whether a Christian understanding of God can do justice to this way of applying the Trinity. I suspect that social trinitarianism risks anthropomorphising God, and that a different approach through the Christology of Maximus the Confessor may help resolve this tension.

Bio: Knut Edvard Moe is a PhD research fellow at VID Specialized University working on metaphysical assumptions underlying the applicability of trinitarian theology to human relationships.


Kristi Stedje - Still «we»: what’s in a good life for couples living with dementia?

Living together as partners may have its happy moments and challenging times for anyone, and a positive relationship quality with the partner is for many people a necessity for living a good, meaningful life. What happens to the relationship when dementia enters the life of two persons who share a home, a past, and a future? What factors influence the relationship quality for couples living with dementia, for better and for worse? This paper is a presentation of the results from a systematic, narrative review examining multi-disciplinary research within dementia care (Stedje et al., 2022). The review aimed to identify factors that influence life partner relationship quality in couples living with dementia. The review gives analyses of both quantitative and qualitative studies and offers an insight into psychological, social, health-related, and activity-related factors contributing to the enhancement, reduction, and stability of relationship quality. The analyses will be presented through a thematic, narrative approach. A discussion of the findings in the review study with reference to the concepts of “couplehood” (Weicht & Tolhurst, 2023) and “we-ness” (Hydén & Nilsson, 2015) situates the review study within a theoretical frame of personhood, drawing on the works of Kitwood & Brooker (2019). The review study presented is part of the author’s Ph.D. project, preliminary titled “Music, dementia, and spousal relationship quality”.

Bio: Kristi Stedje is a music therapist and PhD student at the Norwegian Academy of music. Her main clinical and academic interest is within the dementia care and elderly health field, in which she has clinical experience since 2009.


Lars Mandelkow - Resonant Relations in Healthcare: Rosa's Theory of Resonance as Unifying Framework for Person-Centered Care

Background: Person-centered care in healthcare is advocated widely but lacks a unified theoretical framework. This study explores the potential of Hartmut Rosa's theory of resonance to serve as such a framework. Resonance theory, as proposed by Rosa, counteracts the effects of societal acceleration and alienation. It embodies four main elements: affection, self-efficacy, transformation, and uncontrollability. Resonance can manifest on three axes: horizontal (personal relations), diagonal (relations to systems and tasks), and vertical (spiritual or existential). In healthcare, the challenges of acceleration and alienation are evident, leading to high staff turnover and physician burnout. Aim & Research Questions: This study aims to explore the potential of Rosa's resonance theory in healthcare research and identify arenas for resonant experiences in professionals' daily work. Research questions investigate whether healthcare professionals can relate to resonance and the specific situations where they experience it. Method: Using a qualitative approach, researchers will conduct semi-structured interviews with healthcare professionals (nurses, physicians, and leaders). Data will be analyzed through deductive thematic analysis. Data security will be ensured using the "diktafon" app, adhering to Norwegian data security legislation. Cooperating Institutions: The study will be conducted at the University Hospital North Norway and is affiliated with the Centre of E-health, Cooperation, and Innovation. The project leader is affiliated with Ansgar Høyskole, a furter project team member with University in Agder. The presentation gives an insight in an ongoing study and leads to a discussion og possible implications.

Bio: Lars Mandelkow, born 1971, is teaching psychology at Ansgar University College. He has a PHD in psychology of religion and is active in training programs for health professionals about shared decision-making, empathetic communication, and palliative care. Moreover, he is experienced in couples therapy and family counselling.


Lorraine K.C. Yeung - Relationship and the Good Life in the Technological Age

The ubiquity of digital technologies of the 21st century has been shaping and re-shaping our social interaction and relationships with others. We can become hyper-connected, when instant messaging apps allow us to share our feelings and trivialities of life instantly. Meanwhile, we can become disengaged in relationships when we are distracted by our device in social gatherings and family dinners. Indeed, there is growing scholarly attention on how the technological age featuring hyperconnected relationships challenges the good life (e.g. Robson 2016; Vallor 2016; Greenfield 2014). In response to the challenges, Vallor (2016) proposes a list of techno-moral virtue and wisdom that can guide us to secure the good life in this technological age, based on a virtue ethical framework. On her list there are moral attention, critical self-examination, perspective, care, patience, etc., many of which are crucial in our dealings with relationships. However, she does not include solitude on the list. This paper makes a case for including solitude as a technomoral virtue. I first offer a characterization of solitude in the context of the technological age. Next, drawing on philosophical works (e.g. Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Koch) and scientific study of solitude, I demonstrate the significance of solitude in relationships and in the good life: it can help shield against threats posed by hyperconnected relationships while facilitating the technomoral virtues and wisdom. The paper also invites reflection on what is crucial in a relationship and in the good life in the technological age.

Bio: I obtained my PhD in philosophy at the University of Hong Kong and I am currently a lecturer of philosophy at Hong Kong Baptist University. My current research interest include ethics of technology and digital well-being. I have recently published a paper "Living with AI personal assistant: an ethical appraisal" (with three co-authors) in AI and Society (Springer).


Maria Ledstam - Envisioning a Good Life: Theological and Ethical Reflections on Work Inclusion Strategies in Swedish Third Sector Organizations"

Although the innovative contribution of third-sector organizations (TSO:s) to handle work-related societal challenges is increasingly acknowledged, there is a need to reflect theologically and ethically on what these innovations – with their broadened perspectives on work – might mean for reflections on the good life. Research shows how the Nordic Labor market contributes to societal challenges by disqualifying more and more people from employment. Here, immigrants, youths, and people with ill-health or disabilities are perceived as most disadvantaged. Since current welfare and employment services are considered insufficient to handle these challenges, new measures are called for. The term “social innovation” is increasingly used to describe services and methods for improving people's living conditions in terms of well-being, empowerment, and inclusion. This paper draws on an empirical study of social innovations within Swedish diaconal TSOs, specifically Erikshjälpen, Hela Människan, Göteborgs räddningsmission, and Talentbyrån. Centered on four diaconal TSOs, the empirical study reveals a broadened perspective on work inclusion, challenging conventional notions that equate work solely with paid labor. While some organizations prioritize securing paid employment, others redefine meaningful work beyond traditional paid roles, emphasizing a collaborative approach where volunteers are regarded as coworkers. Additionally, a critical stance towards the societal value attributed to paid labor emerges within one organization. These diverse approaches underscore the necessity for an in-depth theological dialogue on the conception of the good life that these TSOs seek to foster.

Bio: Maria Ledstam, PhD Program manager for DIOS, teacher of ethics, editorial secretary of HYBRID ALT School of Theology


Marie S. Skånland - The music-therapeutic relationship in mental health care

Flexible Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) provides integrated and community-based support to clients with mental illness and challenges in social functioning. Music therapy has been incorporated into several Norwegian FACT teams, but there is limited published research on its outcomes. The FACT model is recovery-oriented and the significance of robust relationships with staff members is emphasised. To understand the processes and critical factors in the relationships between service users and their Music Therapist in FACT, I addressed the following research question: What characterises the relationship and interaction between the Music Therapist and the service user in the context of FACT? Six joint interviews with service users and their Music Therapist were conducted using a dyadic approach. Using reflexive thematic analysis, the characteristics of the music therapy relationship were categorised in three themes; 1) the humanistic, therapeutic relationship, 2) the friendship-like relationship, and 3) the musical relationship. Six additional interviews were performed with Music Therapists in FACT to further explore potentials and challenges in the music-therapeutic relationship. The relationship between the service user and the Music Therapist is essential to therapeutic outcome, and links to common factors in therapy. Building relationships with the Music Therapist and the FACT team may be a vital step towards social participation for the service user and may be understood as a critical factor towards recovery.

Bio: Marie Strand Skånland is Head of Research, Associate Professor and a Post Doc. researcher at Ansgar University College. She holds a PhD in music and health studies from the Norwegian Academy of Music, and currently explores social recovery and relationships in and through music therapy in Flexible Assertive Community Treatment.


Mark Jensen - Friendships for a Good Life: The Intersection of Aristotle and C.S. Lewis

In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle describes three types of friendship. He draws on the resources of classical philosophical anthropology. In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis describes four loves that characterize four different types of relationship. He draws upon the resources of both the Greeks and the Christian tradition. In this paper, I develop a taxonomy of love and friendship at the intersection of these two approaches, describing the variety of friendships that we might encounter in the complexity of human community. Through this investigation, I argue that one especially attractive form of friendship emerges. Beginning with Aristotle as a foundation, we observe that friendships of virtue are essential to a flourishing life. But with the addition of Lewis’s discussion, we see that friendships of virtue grounded in the context of the goods and structures of religious communities take on a transcendent dimension that both expands and enhances the virtues that are achieved by these friends. While the main argument of the paper is conceptual, I point out that my thesis is also supported by empirical considerations (the recently published results of the Harvard Study), and narrative (Lewis’s Narnia novels). I conclude the paper by considering two challenges. First, to what extent is this form of transcendent friendship available to those outside of a religious community? Second, to what extent is this taxonomy tainted by the male perspective of the two contributors? Reflecting on the flexibilities built into the account, I argue that both challenges can be answered.

Bio: Mark Jensen is a moral, social, and political philosopher with research interests in civil society, deliberative democracy, and contemporary theories of liberty and justice. He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 2006 and has taught at the United States Air Force Academy since 2010.


Martin Jakobsen - A Natural theology emphasizing our relation to nature

In this paper, I argue that a Christian theology of nature should lay out a framework for not only understanding nature but also relating to it. I do so by building on the work of theologian Alister McGrath. He argues that to do natural theology is to interpret nature in light of the received Christian tradition. When this interpretation makes sense of how we experience the world, there is “a resonance” between this Christian framework and the observed. Such resonance, argues McGrath, gives the Christian framework credibility. My contribution to McGrath’s natural theology lies in connecting his conception of “resonance” with Hartmut Rosa’s. Rosa’s conception of resonance is more experiential and relational. Incorporating these aspects in McGrath's natural theology results in a natural theology that not only concerns our view of the world but also our relation to it.

Bio: Martin Jakobsen is an Associate Professor in theology at Ansgar University College. He holds a PhD from the University of Agder and has published the book Moral Realism and the Existence of God: Improving Parfit's Metaethics (2020).


Merete Holme - Music and feeling Good– Adolescents with a depression.

Worldwide depression is among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents and is a major cause of disability-adjusted life years among adolescents globally. There are moderate effects of standard recommended treatment with different types of psychotherapy and possibly the addition of drugs. This study can serve as a basis for future randomized controlled studies on this intervention, which might fill an important gap in clinical studies. This paper will present from the PhD- study titled «I´ve Got the Music in Me». This feasibility study is conducted at an outpatient clinic in Child and Adolescents Psychiatry at a location in Norway. The main objectives of this mixed methods study are to assess the feasibility, fidelity and acceptability of a music therapy program applied to adolescents aged 14 to 18 years with moderate depression and possibly additional difficulties. Secondary objectives are an evaluation to see if music therapy as a supplement to standard treatment can provide an indication of effect. The study investigates whether music therapy can provide significant individual improvements in depressive symptoms, emotional regulation, reduction of accompanying difficulties, enhancements in quality of life and daily functioning.Since difficulties in regulating emotional reactions appear to be central in young people with depression, this will also be examined in different ways in this feasibility -study.The primary focus of this paper is to examine the integration and adaption of music therapy within a clinical setting for adolescent with mental health issues, with examples from the ongoing data-collection. The paper will delve into the affective experiences that arise within the context of music therapy, exploring both its relevance within the clinical setting and its broader impact on an adolescent´s everyday life.

Bio: Merete Holme, a PhD- candidate at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo, has long experience in the field of mental health care for adolescents. Throughout her career, she has worked in both acute care settings and community-based programs in Oslo. Her educational background spans sociology, psychology, and music, acquired from institutions such as the University of Oslo, Bergen, and Limerick in Ireland. Furthermore, she holds a master's degree in music therapy from the Norwegian Academy of Music.


Nicholas Baima and Sarah Malanowski - The Life Well-Played: Play as a Constitutive Part of the Virtuous Life

In our productivity-driven, outcome-oriented culture, play often gets a bad rap. Play is the domain of children, and for good reason, one might think: since play does not lead to anything, it also cannot contribute anything of value in our lives. However, in the Grasshopper, Bernard Suits offers a compelling contrast to such a view, arguing instead that, because play is the only activity whose value is completely divorced from its outcome, it is the only activity we would choose to do in a Utopian society. This argument elevates play from childish distraction to the noblest of pursuits. In this paper, we use a virtue ethics framework to develop the basic Suitsian defense of play. More precisely, we argue that (a) play is a part of the good life (eudaimonia) and that (b) there is a virtue of play. Our defense consists of responding to objections that a life of play would be boring or lack meaning and would come at the expense of more important things. The virtue of play requires that we play at the right time, in the right way, and to the right degree. Included in this virtue is the claim that we do not treat play as outcome-oriented work. The attitude we take up in play, in which we focus on the activity itself rather than its outcome, is a model for the attitude we ought to take up in the good life more generally. A life well-lived is a life well-played.

Bio: Nicholas R. Baima is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University, USA, specializing in ancient philosophy and ethical theory. Sarah Malanowski is an Instructor of Philosophy at Florida Atlantic University, USA, specializing in philosophy of cognitive science and biomedical ethics. Together their work has appeared in Neuroethics and Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, and they are authors of Why It’s OK to be a Gamer (Routledge, forthcoming).


Odd Kenneth Hillesund - Exploring Correspondence: a fresh lens on psychosocial recovery.

The family therapy field draws metaphors from diverse academic disciplines like communication, cybernetics, systems theories, and linguistics. These concepts, which emphasize communal contexts for human troubles, expand therapists' understanding of clients' challenges to include relational, material, and cultural factors.In this presentation, I explore anthropologist Tim Ingold's concept of correspondence. Through an example from practice, I take a closer look at what happened when a student who was afraid to speak in class, signed up to take part in a political debate. I also look at what this incident created outside the classroom, at home in talks with father, and in subsequent therapy sessions. I propose that correspondence provides fresh perspectives on the human experience, acknowledging both the individual and their environment. This can be helpful not only for understanding clients’ troubles in life, but also when it comes to addressing what psychosocial and therapeutic work is about.

Bio: Odd Kenneth Hillesund is an assistant professor at the University of Agder, Norway. He has experience from many years in the mental health hospital for youngsters, adolescents, and their families. He is educated as a social worker and family therapist. At the University of Agder, he is the manager of Family therapy studies and teacher and supervisor in studies of Psychosocial work with children and youngsters.


Solveig Hessaa-Szwinto - Sufficiently Norwegian? East Asian Bodies Facing Norwegian Whiteness

In what ways do individuals of East Asian origin with adoption and immigrant backgrounds relate to their own identity in Norway? How have their experiences of racism affected their self-perception, and how do they perceive Norwegian whiteness? In this article, I employ intersectionality to explore variations within the sample based on three participants’ distinct identity markers and how they may intersect or overlap differently. The analysis of the empirical data reveals that the participants’ East Asian bodies hold significant importance in how they perceive their identity. Further, the concept of Norwegian whiteness has a significant impact on how the participants are perceived by others. The category of «race» has thus been dominant and has overshadowed many of the other identity markers. The participants have internalized the racism they have experienced, which has influenced their process of identity formation.

Bio: Solveig Hessaa-Szwinto works as a Social Scientist and Academic Coordinator for Active Citizenship and Diversity. Her research interest includes racism, migration, post colonialism and gender in war. Her last publications have focused on experienced racism and the effect of it towards people in Norway with East Asian origin. She is the founder and leader of the ongoing personal storytelling concept BE HEARD! She holds a Master of Science in International Development from the University of Amsterdam. 


Tommy Wasserman - Mediators in Philo and Hebrews

This paper will explore the topic of mediators and mediation in Philo and Hebrews, respectively. What do these authors have to say about mediators and mediation between God and humans and between God and his creation? Which terms and concepts do they use? These questions will contribute to the larger question to what degree the authors share the same theological and philosophical tradition, and whether the author of Hebrews is even dependent on Philo.

Bio: Tommy Wasserman is Professor of Biblical Studies at Ansgar University College, secretary of the International Greek New Testament Project (IGNTP), senior editor of TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism (SBL Press) and editor of New Testament Tools Studies and Documents (Brill). Currently he is editing The Oxford Handbook of the Textual Criticism of the Bible.


Torstein Try - Interfaith Friendships: Navigating Relationships amid Dispute and Correspondence

This study delves into the intricate dynamics of interfaith friendships between Christians and Muslims in a Norwegian context, using the narratives of "Berit," a Christian, and her Muslim friend, "Basiima," as a case study. Through qualitative analysis of in-depth interviews, the research aims to operationalize key concepts and lessons arising from their friendship, with a particular focus on the themes of dispute and correspondence, or in other words, between similarity and difference. The study explores how these dynamics contribute to the enrichment of individual lives and a broader societal understanding. Interfaith friendships offer unique insights into the intersections of religious beliefs, cultural diversity, and personal relationships. Existing literature on interfaith friendships, religious diversity, and cross-cultural encounters provides the backdrop for this study. Scholars have previously emphasized the potential for personal and communal growth through interactions with religious "others." The literature review establishes a foundation for examining the nuances of interfaith friendships. The findings of this study highlight the multifaceted nature of interfaith friendships. The analysis operationalizes concepts of empathy, cultural understanding, and shared experiences as essential elements that bridge the differences in the dynamics of Christian-Muslim friendships.

Bio: Torstein Try, PhD, is an Associate Professor in Intercultural Studies and Missiology at Ansgar University College, Norway.


Van Tu - Perceiving and bestowing value: On Why Relationships matter

Relationships matter for human happiness. This is a mundane point, but it is much less obvious why relationships are as essential as they are in a good life. This paper offers an explanation: relationships are beneficial to us because humans are both cognizers and givers of value. The paper argues that when people form and sustain relationships, they engage in a pair of activities – cognizing and bestowing value – which jointly generate meaning, fulfillment, and worth in their lives. To make this suggestion vivid, consider a romantic relationship. In the account just sketched, the relationship of love would require, on the one hand, a cognition of value. For love requires the lover to make a value judgment that the person whom she loves is worthy and desirable. On the other hand, the lover also bestows value on the one she loves since the value that the beloved has is ultimately intensified by the lover’s love, such that the beloved becomes a unique source of value to the lover. This theory of value can account for the formation of relationships and why relationships matter for a good life. An initial value judgment, which is the perception and appreciation of some quality (or a combination of qualities) in other people that we perceive as desirable, provides the impetus for a relationship. In turn, those with whom we are in relationships become central sources of value to us, as the things that we love and care about accrue value for us because of the affection and sentiment we have for them.

Bio: Van Tu is an Assistant Professor of philosophy at California State University, San Bernardino. She completed the PhD program in classical philosophy at the University of Michigan in 2020 and taught at Bowdoin College from 2019-2022. Her research stands at the crossroads of ancient Greek ethics, psychology, and epistemology. It aims to revive the ancient philosophical accounts of eudaimonia (a term commonly but inadequately translated as “happiness”), what kind of person to be, and indeed how to live well.

The conference will take place at Ansgar University College, located at Hånes in Kristiansand, 15 minutes by car from Kjevik Airport. Our campus has been newly extended, and we welcome you to dine with an ocean view in our new cafeteria.

Street address: Fredrik Fransonsvei 4, Hånes


Ansgar Hotel is located within a 2-minutes walk from the Campus, with a beautiful view of the sea, and within a few minutes walk to the beach.

Use the discount code WIAGL24 for a 20% conference discount prior to 1 March 2024. We recommend that you book a triple room or a studio apartment for your stay.

Go to booking

There are several alternative hotels in the city centre, for example, Thon Hotel Parken, which is close to the bus station (use bus line M2/Hånes-Sørlandsparken).

Scandic Sørlandet is close to the zoo, but further away from the city centre (use bus line M2/Voiebyen).

By air: Kjevik Airport is 40 minutes by air from Oslo. From Kjevik, you will reach Ansgar University College in 15 minutes by taxi.

By train: Kristiansand city centre is a 4,5 hours train ride from Oslo Central Station. You can get to Ansgar University College by bus or car from the city centre in 20-25 minutes.

Bus (from Oslo): You can get to Krstiansand and Hånes by bus with Vy or Konkurrenten. (Approximately 4 hours from Oslo.) You should choose to get off at Håneskrysset and take the local bus M2 from there to Hånes senter.

Local bus: You will get to Ansgar University College with the local bus M2. From the bus stop Hånes senter there is a five-minutes’ walk down-hill to the Campus.

Scientific committee
Organizing commitee



Marie Strand Skånland, head of research at Ansgar University College: [email protected]

Pictures from the previous conference

Head of organizing committee