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A woman speaking to the press at a podium
Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee, announcing the 2023 laureate. Photo: Terje Pedersen/NTB/AFP via Getty Images.

Students Explore the Complexities of Selecting the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

A few months before the 2023 Nobel Peace Prize laureate was selected, students in the International Experience course had the chance to present their analysis of candidates for the prize to the director of the Nobel Institute.

As the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was announced in Norway on October 6, a group of Yale SOM students took a special interest in the decision. The prize went to jailed Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi, cited by the Nobel Committee for “her fight against the oppression of women in Iran and her fight to promote human rights and freedom for all.”

In March, the students participated in a Yale SOM course that included a trip to Oslo, Norway. While in Oslo, they delivered their own recommendation for the Peace Prize, after going through a painstaking selection process of their own.

Nils Rudi, professor of operations management, Kristen Hammer, AASL, and Aishwarya Smriti, teaching assistant, formed the team of the Norway section of the International Experience course, which sends groups of students and faculty to business capitals around the world. The visit to the Nobel Institute had a twist: the opportunity for students to nominate, analyze, and select potential 2023 Peace Prize winners and then present their analysis to the director of the Nobel Institute.

“We tried some variations to the traditional IE model, where the host organization presents to our students, by having our students also make a presentation to the host,” Rudi says.

The students’ list included 16 possible candidates, ranging from environmentalist and leader of indigenous rights Sonia Guajajara to Doctors Without Borders. Students walked through a process that mirrored the one that the Nobel Committee undertakes, researching, debating, and weighing the myriad factors that go into choosing a winner. (The students’ choice for 2023: The Center for Reproductive Rights.)

The students’ analysis was well received, Rudi says, and the students taking the International Experience Norway class in 2024 have been invited to visit the Nobel Institute as well. The new students will begin their process of analyzing their own 2024 Peace Prize candidates in January.

Nora Devlin ’24 said that the course gave her an understanding of the complexities that the Nobel Committee faced in selecting Mohammadi for the Peace Prize: “I am excited about this news. After learning about the history of the Nobel Peace Prize and visiting the institute in Norway, I have a greater appreciation for the risks the committee took in making this choice; however, I think the statement and impact are worth these risks.”