Eivind Engebretsen

Professor of Interdisciplinary Health Science

Eivind Engebretsen


I am a medical humanities scholar and a professor of interdisciplinary health science at the University of Oslo (UiO).  From 2023, I am the Dean of the Open Campus at the European University Alliance Circle U. I am the founding head of the Sustainable Health Unit (SUSTAINIT) at the Faculty of Medicine (UiO) and its associated Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education (SHE), a Centre of Excellence in Education funded by the Norwegian Government.

My research explores how knowledge about health, especially global health, is produced, legitimized, negotiated, documented, and exchanged throughout the global social fabric.


Among scholars and practitioners of medicine, attention is increasingly being paid to the dynamics of power that operate in the field, including how liberal forms of power have come to dominate the global governance of health. As Engebretsen and Heggen (2015:115) have argued, however, power ‘does not only operate through knowledge and norms but through language and concepts, and often unconsciously’. Any attempt to redress some of the inequalities that operate in the field of health must therefore begin by questioning the global validity of key concepts that underpin global health policy today, including the concept of global health itself, as articulated in a range of languages. Against this backdrop, SHE, the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education at the University of Oslo, is launching an ambitious programme of research, in collaboration with the Genealogies of Knowledge Research Network (see Baker et al. 2021), to encourage conceptual research in the field of modern medicine and global health. The research will draw on a large suite of open access electronic corpora (the Sustainability and Health Corpus), accompanied by a novel, open-source corpus analysis and visualization interface, to support a wide range of conceptual studies.

Evidence GoK
This book interrogates the assumption that evidence means the same thing to different constituencies and in different contexts. It questions the prevalent understanding of evidence as singular from a theoretical perspective that is not restricted by the received wisdom of evidence-based medicine. Rather than treating various practices of knowledge as rational or irrational in purely scientific terms, it explains the controversies surrounding COVID-19 by drawing on a theoretical framework that recognizes different types of rationality, and hence plural conceptualizations of evidence. Debates within and beyond the medical establishment on the efficacy of measures such as mandatory face masks and lockdowns are examined in detail, as are various degrees of hesitancy towards vaccines and other pharmaceutical interventions. The authors demonstrate that it is ultimately through narratives that knowledge about medical and other phenomena is communicated to others, enters the public space, and provokes discussion and disagreements. Importantly, effective narratives can enhance the reception of that knowledge and reduce some of the sources of resistance and misunderstanding that continue to plague public communication about important medical issues such as pandemics.