About the Nordic International Folk High School

​The Nordic International Folk High School (NIFH) was established jointly by the Workers’ Educational Association and the trade union movements in the Nordic countries. Its aim is to offer studies in trade union and political issues at the Nordic and the international level. This is mainly covered by the primary course The Geneva School. The course is open to everyone but is mainly targeted at young, active members who are interested in international co-operation and who have worked with this issue at the union or political level in the Nordic trade union movements.

NIFH today

The courses are open to everyone but are mainly targeted at young, active members of trade union, political and cooperative popular movements who have demonstrated a willingness to make a difference in the field of international cooperation within their own organisations.

Our joint Nordic courses include study meetings at different locations in the Nordic countries, Europe and online.

The NIFH’s Board

The NIFH’s Board was elected by the Annual General Meeting on 19 March 2021 and is composed of:

John Meinert Jacobsen
Chairman of the Board and member of the working committee (AU) – the Workers’ Educational Association (AOF) Denmark

Niklas Skeppar
Vice Chairman and AU member – ABF Sweden

Oyvind Hvidsten
Board Member and AU member – AOF Norway

Ordinary Members
Kathrine Fauske, Board Member – LO Norway
Riitta Sinimäki-Mikola, Board Member – TSL Finland
Mari Taivainen, Board Member – PAM Finland
Helene Lindahl, Board Member – LO Sweden
Eyrún Björk Valsdottir, Board Member – ASì Iceland
Humaira Nasim – AOF Denmark
Annica Dahl – ABF Sweden

Ole Otterstad, Union of Education Norway
Tove Johansen, AOF Norway
Mervi Ylitalo, TSL Finland
Petri Partanen, Finnish Industrial Union
Ronny Tedestedt, TCO Sweden
Bergthora Hrönn Gudjonsdottir, ASì Iceland


The history of the Geneva School 

The Geneva School was established as early as in 1931 and has since worked to educate and offer tools for Nordic trade union and popular movements to make them better prepared for facing the challenges of globalisation, such as ensuring fair working conditions.

During the second half of the 1920s, public opinion and the media in the Nordic countries were both ignorant and opposed to the international cooperation which the UN and the ILO represented. With the establishment of the ILO in 1919, the trade union organisations and their members were faced with a requirement to participate actively in international cooperation. It was difficult for members of the Nordic trade union organisations to study international issues and learn about the work of the ILO in order to participate in the ILO’s International Labour Conference in Geneva due to the lack of language skills and education.

In the League of Nations, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the ILO in Geneva, the representatives of the Nordic countries included Ludvig Krabbe from Denmark, Christina L. Lange from Norway and Sven Backlund and Sture Thorsson from Sweden. They all experienced how support from an informed and active public in the Nordic countries was important for the Nordic countries when engaging in international cooperation and therefore chose to contact the popular movements in the Nordic countries that were in favour of international cooperation. The Geneva School was established as a result of this development.

The school was intended as a Nordic centre for international studies: To give active members from the trade union, political and cooperative organisations the opportunity to participate in genuine Nordic cooperation in an international environment. The working languages of the school were Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Already at the first course, participants were given the opportunity to follow the ILO’s International Labour Conference.

Apart from an interruption during the war years from 1940 to 1945 and during the pandemic in 2020, the Geneva School has carried out educational activities since then.