A Chat with Visiting Professor Dr. Joshua Hunter

Each semester, American College of Norway welcomes a faculty member from one of the partner universities in the US to come and teach in Moss. This semester, Dr. Joshua Hunter from University of North Dakota came to ACN to teach three classes. Dr. Hunter is the Program Director for the immersive and experiential minor in Outdoor Leadership and Environmental Education at UND. Read about his fascination with the outdoors and his experience in Norway and at ACN in this interview.

Students canoeing for Dr. Hunters class in Moss and Dr. Hunter with ACN’s Executive Director Krista Lauritzen.

Hi, Dr. Hunter! You teach Outdoor leadership, Outdoor recreation and Wilderness thoughts at ACN this semester. This sounds very interesting! Where does your fascination with the outdoors stem from?

My life in the outdoors began pretty young, having a lot of unstructured time in the forests around my home. I also went to a camp in northern Minnesota and had some pretty dramatic experiences canoeing and hiking in remote backcountry areas of North America. These were incredibly important experiences for me in getting to feel at home in wild places, but, even more importantly, in protecting natural areas. After I got out of college, I worked in many different places and jobs in the outdoors. This included work as a park naturalist and ranger, wilderness guide, school environmental educator and wilderness camp director. All of these experiences are instrumental in teaching classes on Wilderness Thoughts and Outdoor Recreation and Leadership.

As someone who spends a lot of time in nature, how has it been to live in Norway and more specifically, in Moss?

I loved the easy access to forests and hills in Moss. In just a few minutes I could be on trails away from town exploring the surrounding forests. I love to run trails and up above town, there is a lovely forest and lake area with dozens of interlacing paths. Some are broad and relatively flat, while others are narrow, crooked and more challenging. And, between the lake and the rocky shore of fjord, there are plenty of places to swim! It’s cool to see how many folks enjoy these areas for hiking and picnics, but, it is also possible to spend time out there all alone without running into many people. And, there are many different habitats and places to discover, such as Jeloy, which is really different from the areas around ACN. It takes a little bit of effort to get out there, but, the combination of farmland, forests and trails along the fjord are unique and special.

You have had some time to travel this semester. What would you recommend other Americans to do when visiting Norway?

I would say a highlight of my time in Norway was traveling to Svalbard during the late winter. It was simply stunning and unlike any place else on Earth. Taking advantage of outdoor experiences there such as dog sledding, snowmobiling and glacier hikes were exceptional ways to get to know the place better. I also spent some time on the west coast around Bergen and Trondheim and these are beautiful towns with gorgeous outdoor scenery. Should I come back to Norway, I would spend more time in some of the national parks and definitely the Lofoten islands.

How has your experience at ACN been this semester?

I had a tremendous experience at ACN this semester. It was lovely to live in a small town in Norway with a quick two minute walk to school. I very much enjoyed working with students and spending a lot of time exploring the outdoors around Moss with them. Being able to see the place through their eyes and experiences was a real treat. I appreciated student engagement and their enthusiasm as the semester progressed and we worked on projects and they developed their own ideas and shared their experiences with each other.

What are your plans moving forward?

I am on sabbatical this next year, so, will have a lot of flexibility for working on research projects and travel associated with them. I am working on some plans dealing with water protection and watershed education and developing a project dealing with visual ethnography—a form of documentary filmmaking. I’ll probably spend quite a bit of time camping and exploring wild places to boot!

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