Bakgrunn og aktiviteter

My main interest is in cultural institutions' potential to address issues of social inequality through participatory strategies, aimed at younger audiences.

Having worked in a variety of museums for over seven years, I'm now excited to combine critical geographical perspectives with museum studies. I depart from an understanding of museums as particularly social institutions for social purposes, and concur in Robert R. Janes vision, launched in his book 'Museums for a troubled world':

‘I will argue that the majority of museums, as social institutions, have largely eschewed on both moral and practical grounds a broader commitment to the world in which they operate. Instead, they have allowed themselves to be held increasingly captive by the economic imperatives of the marketplace and their own internally-driven agendas. Whether or not they have done this unwittingly or knowingly is immaterial, as the consequences are the same. It is time for museums to examine their core assumptions.‘ (Janes 2009: 13)

While my earlier contributions depended on post-structuralist geographies, I'm now inspired by how different epistemologies can come together in joint responses to issues of social justice in a world of inequality.

Thesis title:
Enhancing global awareness among young students? A study of the museum exhibition A World at Stake

About the thesis
The thesis presents a case study of A World at Stake, which was an exhibition inspired by the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. AWAS was displayed at Glomdalsmuseet in Elverum, in the time period 2013-2014, during which fieldwork was undertaken.

Unlike many other museum exhibits, A World at Stake invited classes of young students to participate in and solve hands-on tasks related to global poverty and inequality, spread out over a 250 sqm board game surface. See exhibition's website for visual images. The exhibition itself offers a particular and fairly stereotypical representation of an unequal and unjust world. Rather than critiquing A World at Stake as such, the thesis focuses on the young students’ engagements while ‘playing’, how their engagements were fundamental to the ways the tasks were experienced and undertaken, and crucially, whether the tasks had potential to mobilise the students’ sense of global awareness. For this reason, the main research question emphasizes the perspective of the participants in A World at Stake: What characterizes young students’ experiences with A World at Stake, and how are these experiences related to enhancement of global awareness?

The thesis responds to the research question through four sub-questions addressed in four publications that apply different quantitative and qualitative methods. Together they analyses different aspects of the empirical material, which includes students’ experiences and their relation to different parts of the exhibition. The main concepts in the thesis are global awareness and experience, global citizenship and social justice, mastery and curiosity, emotion and affect, and negotiation. The following book chapter and journal articles are included in the thesis:

1. Nielsen, S., & Klein, J. (2015). A World at Stake – Global citizenship, justice, and the role of museums. In V. W. Thoresen, D. Robert, J. Klein, D. Declan (Eds.), Responsible living - Concepts, education and future perspectives (pp. 217-232). London: Springer.

2. Nielsen, S. S. (2016). Stimulating curiosity for global poverty and inequality - An explorative study of students’ experiences with the exhibition A World at Stake. Nordisk museology (2), 41-59.

3. Nielsen, S. S. & Aitken, S. C. (Under revision). Emotion and affect with "A World at Stake". GeoHumanities.

4. Nielsen, S. S., Setten, G. & Klein, J. (work in progress). Picturing social inequality: a visual analysis of young students’ negotiations of images in a museum exhibition. Aimed at Children's Geographies.

Vitenskapelig, faglig og kunstnerisk arbeid

Viser et utvalg av aktivitet. Se alle publikasjoner i databasen


  • Nielsen, Sigurd. (2016) Stimulating curiosity for global poverty and inequality : an explorative study of students' experiences with the exhibition A world at stake. Nordisk Museologi.

Del av bok/rapport

  • Nielsen, Sigurd; Klein, Jørgen. (2015) A World at Stake -Global Citizenship, Justice, and the Role of Museums. Responsible Living: Concepts, Education and Future Perspectives.



  • Nielsen, Sigurd. (2016) Radical Curation : (E)motion and affect in "A World at Stake. Det relevante museum ; Trondheim. 2016-10-17 - 2016-10-21.