Oral Histories

Christian Nøkkentved


Christian Nøkkentved


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Download Dr. Nok in the IMSA Archives (199 KB)


Dr. Christian Nøkkentved - known to generations of IMSA students as Dr. Nok - started as a member of the history faculty 1988. He had finished his Ph.D. in History in 1985 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He visited IMSA and decided to apply for a job, attracted by the small class sizes and teaching he saw there. He had to learn to adapt to teaching in a more hands-on way and felt freedom to experiment with ways to engage students. In particular, the history faculty did a lot of simulations, where students could take on roles to act out or debate historical events.

Dr. Nok primarily taught World Studies, European History, and International Relations. The European History course was organized around key artifacts, starting with the opera La Traviata, to open up questions about the nature of history, art, and evidence. He enjoyed the ability to create and change the curriculum, with the guiding principle of developing students' historical thinking skills, rather than just covering content. Because it is impossible to cover all of world history in a single class, he focused on the development of major structures or trends that we still live with today, trying to balance powerful Western influences with non-Western histories. He particularly enjoyed reading the research papers that students wrote for the class.

In addition to his regular teaching, Dr. Nok participated in trips to Germany with the German classes as part of an exchange program that ran between 1998 and 2007. IMSA students visited Erfurt, Germany in the summers of the even-numbered years and German students came to IMSA in the odd years. Dr. Nok also did an independent study for students interested in learning Danish for many years. During intersession he ran a class called "philosophical perambulations." He took students for hikes, in all weathers, and they had readings that prompted reflection on the landscapes.

Among the more challenging aspects of work at IMSA was figuring out how to always have students engaged in active learning, and not all experiments worked. A lot of things changed over time too, from new technology to shifts in the student culture, especially towards students going home on weekends. Once all students had laptops, teaching methods also had to be adjusted. In facing these challenges, it was helpful to have supportive colleagues in the history department, all of whom worked together to figure out effective teaching methods.

Dr. Nok retired from IMSA in 2013 and continues to volunteer in the archives.

Interviewer: Sara Goek. Duration: 50:58.




faculty, humanities, history classes, intersession, international travel


Oral history


Digital Video Recording


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Christian Nøkkentved