The origins of Centre for Rural Research (Bygdeforskning) date back to the 19th of January 1892 when the Norwegian Agricultural Science Research Council funded the Univeristy of Trondheim (later NTNU) to conduct a major research project on agricultural work and health environments. The organisaiton was first located in the Trondheim region of Lade.

Research topics in the early years were, in addition to working environment and health, cooperative organisation, women in agriculture, rural development and argicultural policy.

The founder of Centre for Rural Research was Reidar Almås who directed the organisation through four terms: 1982-87, 1988-1994, 1995-1998, and 2002-2007. Marit S. Haugen, 1994-95, 1998-2002, Jørn Ødegård 1987-88, Dag Jørund Salon (2007), Egil Petter Stræt 2008-2013 have also been directors of the organisation in the past. The current director Harald A. Lein took over from Egil Petter Stræte in 2013


Reidar får St Olavs Orden 2011

Reidar Almås was awarded the order of St. Olav (the Norwegian equivalent of a knighthood) in 2011 by County Governor Kåre Gjønnes for his contribution to rural sociology.

The first board of Centre for Rural Research was formed in 1989, with Professor Willy Martinussen as director. In subsequent years Kirsten Vesterhus (1995 – 2000), Anders Todal Jenssen (2001), Hjørdis Kaul (2002-2004), Tore Bjørkli (2005-2014), Ola Svein Stugu (2015) and Riche Vestby (2016-) have also led the board.

From 1991, responsibility for the 13 Centre for Rural Research employees transferred from the Norwegian Research Council for Agriculture to the Allforsk research foundation at the University of Trondheim, while at the same time Centre for Rural Research was provided a basic grant of NOK 1 250 000 per anum. In 1993 Centre for Rural Research moved from Lade to NTNU Dragvoll and has been located in the sports building since 2011-2012.

Gaselle diagram

Centre for Rural Research has been a “gazelle company” two times. Gazelle companies are companies that double their turnover in four years. Centre for Rural Research achieved this in the period 1988 – 1992 (from 2 to 6 mill) and in 1995 – 1999 (from 6 to 17 mill).

Bygdeforskning på Gjørv Gård
Norsk senter for bygdeforskning på leiting etter visjon og strategi med Ingebrigt Steen Jensen på Gjørv, Inderøya i 2003.

Centre for Rural Research has always maintained an international profile. Today it is one of the leading rural sociology centers in Europe with greater international involvement than ever, not least through its participation in a number of EU projects. In 2004, we organized the World Congress in Rural Sociology, and in the period 2008-2012 Reidar Almås was the head of the International Rural Sociology Association. In 2019 Centre for Rural Research, now RURALIS, will host the European Society of  Rural Sociology biannual congress.

The core values ​​of Centre for Rural Research are, and have always been

  • To conduct work of a consistently high quality
  • To maintain a collective and enjoyable work environment
  • To maintian strong connections with users

Harald A. Lein is the current Director of Centre for Rural Research. Currently we have four administrative staff and thirty scientists from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds including sociology, political science, geography, social anthropology, agronomy, health and business economics.


Egil Petter, Tore og Harald 2013
2013: Egil Petter Stræte hands over the symbol of leadership to Harald A. Lein. In the middle, director of agriculture in Trøndelag, Tore Bjørkli.

Current research topics:

  • Local communities, rural life, quality of life, health, working environment and culture
  • Resource management, environment, cultural landscape and outfields
  • Business development, agriculture, aquaculture, business economics and value chains for food
  • Municipal and regional administration and interaction between villages and towns, cities and peripheries

Centre for Rural Research’s funders include Norway’s Research Council, Public Administration, Business, Organizations and several international sources such as the EU and the Nordic Council of Ministers.

As of 2016 researchers at Centre for Rural Research were responsible for 30 academic books and 262 articles in academic journals.


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