Distinction in Norwegian

What is Distinction?
Distinction is a formal academic honor (which appears on the transcript) that each Department in the College may vote to bestow upon its senior majors who have those qualities most valued in their discipline and who demonstrate their ability to produce independent work of the highest scholarly or artistic standard. A Department awards Distinction to recognize outstanding achievement and encourage potential.  (For more information, see St. Olaf College Statement on Distinction.)

The Department of Norwegian invites senior majors who seek a significant and challenging intellectual experience to apply for Distinction in Norwegian.

Criteria for Distinction
To be considered for Distinction, students must satisfy certain minimum GPA requirements, prepare a project under the direction of a Project Advisor in the Department of Norwegian (or an advisor approved by the Department of Norwegian), have the work reviewed by faculty, and successfully complete a public presentation of the project.

GPA requirements: Cumulative GPA of at least 3.3 and GPA in courses for the Norwegian major of at least 3.70. Under special circumstances, and after consultation with their Project Advisor, students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements may petition the Chair of the Norwegian Department for permission to begin the Distinction process.

Project description: Distinction projects may spring out of work done in courses, but must go well beyond that work.  Thus a paper or project submitted for a course (including an IS/IR course) must be substantially expanded and revised in order to be used for distinction, and in addition, there must be some form of public presentation of the work.  Public presentation could be a talk to students after conversation table, presentation at a scholarly conference, creation of a website, YouTube video, poster, etc.  Papers or projects may be in either Norwegian or English, but projects in English will normally be substantially longer.  Thus a paper in Norwegian should be 10-15 pages in length, but one in English should be 20-30 pages.  A wide range of types of papers or projects may be proposed.  The final product might be a scholarly paper or a piece of creative writing. Projects such as websites or poster presentations must be accompanied by a written prospectus, must be the equivalent of a substantial paper, and will be approved on a case-by-case basis.  Before embarking on a distinction project, the student must have the project approved by the Norwegian Department. Students may not apply for distinction in both Norwegian and Nordic Studies

Papers or projects should reflect superior (distinct) achievement in one or more of the learning outcomes for the Norwegian major:

  1. Linguistic outcomes
    a) Language  proficiency in listening, reading, writing and speaking at the ACTFL intermediate-high to advanced-low levels
    b) metalinguistic awareness
  2. Cultural knowledge
    a) Knowledge of Norwegian literature
    i. literary canon from saga period to the present
    ii. more specific knowledge of major authors such as Ibsen, Hamsun, Undset, etc.
    iii. ability to place literature in historical context
    iv. ability to analyze literature using standard literary methodology
    b) knowledge of Norwegian history
    c) knowledge of contemporary Norwegian society
    d) greater depth of knowledge of one or more aspects of Norwegian culture or language

Timeline 2022-2023:

  • Spring, Junior year: All Norwegian majors will be informed of the Distinction in Norwegian option during the spring semester of their junior year
  • Sept. 30th, Senior year: Norwegian majors who have attained an overall GPA of 3.3 and a GPA in the major of 3.7 will be invited to apply for distinction in Norwegian by the end of September of their senior year.
  • Oct. 10th, Senior year: Nominated students who wish to apply for distinction must draft a proposal and choose an advisor by this date.  Along with their advis0r and the department chair, students may choose a faculty member from outside the Norwegian department to serve on their distinction committee, depending on the topic.  The proposal should consist of a 1 page double spaced overview of their topic, explaining how this project is expanded or revised (if applicable) and who will be acting as their advisor. If the student opts to do the distinction in Norwegian, this should be completed in Norwegian, and likewise for English.
  • January, Senior year: Students should set up 2-3 meetings with their advisor during the fall semester and/or interim to discuss the development of the project, and to receive feedback on their projects.
  • February 28th: Students must submit a draft of their distinction project by this date of their senior year.  This draft will be circulated for comment by members of the department and the outside member of the committee. 
  • April 10th, Senior year: Based on the comments received, students will then make any revisions necessary, and submit a final draft by this date.
  • April 15th, Senior year: The distinction committee (consisting of all Norwegian Department faculty members plus the outside member) will vote on whether or not distinction should be awarded.  Students will be notified by the end of April, and names of students earning distinction in Norwegian will be forwarded to the registrar’s office by the end of April.
  • Last week in April, Senior year: Public presentation of the project, in whatever form is appropriate for the project, will occur in April.