Eivind Engebretsen

Professor of Interdisciplinary Health Science


I was born on November 17 1974 in Oslo.

I obtained my master’s degree in intellectual history from the University of Oslo in 2001 and my Ph.D. from the same university in 2006. As part of my research training, I studied under the French philosophers Jacques Derrida and Julia Kristeva in Paris, and with the latter, I developed a long-term research collaboration. 

From 2007 to 2011 I worked as an associate professor of philosophy of science at the Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science (HiOA), where I led the development of a new Ph.D. program in social policy and social work.

I returned to the University of Oslo in 2009, first in an adjunct position, and from 2011 as an associate professor of interdisciplinary health science (with emphasis on the medical humanities) at the Medical School. I was appointed a full professor in 2012 and am today a qualified professor in health science, human science, and social science. In 2017 I was elected a fellow and a group leader at the Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.

From 2013 to 2015, I was the Head of Postgraduate Studies at the Institute of Health and Society, and from 2015 to 2019, the Head of Research at the Faculty of Medicine, with the responsibility for developing the first postdoctoral training program in Norway. From 2019 to 2022, I was elected Dean of Education (postgraduate studies) at the Faculty of Medicine (UiO).

I am the Head and Co-Founder of the Faculty of Medicine’s Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Healthcare Education (SHE), which is the first Norwegian Centre of Excellence in medical education, funded for 5 years (2020-2025). I am also the Head of the Sustainable Health Unit, a cluster comprised of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Education (SHE), the Centre for Global Health and a new Pandemic Centre.

In 2021, I was appointed as Academic Chair of Global Health at the European University Alliance Circle U. with the mission to explore the interface between global health and democracy. See my mission statement here.

Since 2023, I have served as the Dean of the Open Campus at Circle U., bearing the overall academic responsibility for Circle U.’s educational programme.

Research Interests

As a scholar of the medical humanities, my research aims to address the following fundamental questions: who is legitimized to speak on whose behalf about health, and what are the discursive mechanisms on which this legitimacy is based? These questions were already central to my early career research on topics such as expert statements in child welfare cases, and the role of disease prestige in informal priority processes in health care. In more recent years, my research has mainly been concerned with the foundations and politics of evidence-based health decisions and what in various situations and periods is considered (or not considered) as valid medical knowledge. Together with Prof. Mona Baker, I have co-authored a book entitled Rethinking Evidence in the Time of Pandemics (Cambridge University Press 2022), which elaborates a theoretical framework based on and extending Walter Fisher’s narrative paradigm to analyze epistemic controversies related to the Covid-19 pandemic and their underpinning rationalities.


Drawing on Callon and Latour’s broad definition of translation as an act in which someone speaks on behalf of someone else, I have also investigated ‘knowledge translation’ as a concept and practice in medicine. My work on this topic includes the project Bodies in Translation, which I led (with John Ødemark) at the Center for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (2019-2020), and a recent report issued by the World Health Organization on knowledge translation and the cultural contexts of health (co-written with Trish Greenhalgh, John Ødemark and Shanmugapriya (Priya) Umachandran).


I have collaborated with the French-Bulgarian philosopher Julia Kristeva to develop a novel translational medical humanities approach, which puts human experience and dialogue at the centre of knowledge translation.

I am also interested in how key concepts in global health, such as sustainability, resilience, partnership, empowerment, and well-being (often defined in English and sanctioned by multilateral organizations) are understood and deployed in different languages and in relation to different population groups, how such concepts are co-opted and made to serve various political purposes and how they are challenged by activists and grassroots organizations, including those located in the Global South. These interests form the basis of my academic program as an Academic Chair of Global Health at the University Alliance Circle U. as well as the research project ‘The Medicalisation of Democratic Rights in the Debate about Abortion (MEDRA): The US, Ireland and Argentina’.



University of Oslo

PhD in Cultural History (Topic: Child protection as text. Close reading of case records from the 50s and the 80s)



University of Oslo

Cand. philol (MPhil) in intellectual history (Topic: Jacques Derrida and the question of history)