Signe Dahl is the Vice President of ISFiT21 and is responsible overall for the festival’s theme. We talked to her about why she joined ISFiT, the story behind the theme ‘Creating Knowledge’, and how she interprets our theme. 

By: Hanne Mortensen Rustad
Design: Phajsi Halvorsen

Who are you, and why did you join ISFiT?

My name is Signe, I am 23 years old, and I study political science! I first joined ISFiT in 2019, where I was in the Culture Board. ISFiT was actually the first organisation that I heard about when I came to Trondheim. I went to a stand my first week at Dragvoll to get some free coffee (as one does), and found myself in a conversation about ISFiT and the Student Peace Prize. I thought to myself that an organisation where students are able to hand out a Student Peace Prize and gather 500 students from all over the world was something that I really wanted to be a part of! Now, I am the Vice President of ISFiT21. This means that together with the President, I am responsible for leading the board and the overall direction of the festival, as well as being a resource for the volunteers. 

How is the theme of each ISFiT selected?

ISFIT’s themes are selected by the President, and Presidents are elected with themes they decided on before being chosen for the position. Mathilde was elected with the theme ‘Creating Knowledge’, and I am really glad that this became the theme for ISFiT21!

Why did we choose the theme ‘Creating Knowledge’?

The theme was first introduced with the phrase ‘Knowledge is power, and therefore we must discuss it!’ We, as students, work with knowledge everyday, and we play a vital role in our societies in spreading and creating knowledge. Offering a platform for students to create and discuss knowledge in all forms was therefore an important motivation behind the choice of theme for ISFIT21.

How do you interpret the theme?

To me, ‘Creating Knowledge’ is all about addressing the fact that knowledge is, in fact, something that is created.  This brings a lot of opportunities for us as students to shape the societies we live in, however, it also raises some important questions that we should address: 

What implications does it have that knowledge is constructed, that the spreading of knowledge is regulated, and that we have easier access to some types of knowledge than others? Who actually has the possibility to create knowledge? And how can we as students take an active part in this? This is what the theme is to me. ‘Creating Knowledge’ is a theme that opens up a space for us to address issues that directly relate to our everyday lives as students, which I believe to be an important aspect of the theme.

Not only that, but ISFiT is in itself creating new knowledge each year! By gathering students from all over the world for dialogue, workshops, and cultural events, we are creating knowledge through the platform that ISFiT provides. Who we invite, what topics we discuss and how we work as volunteers all affect what knowledge is being created during ISFiT. This is another element I really like about the theme, because it brings us an opportunity as a festival to reflect upon what role ISFiT itself can play.

How is the theme relevant in the world today?

We live in a world now where how we use knowledge has changed tremendously over the past few years. Internet and social media have completely changed how we interact with knowledge and who has access to the means to create, acquire, and spread it. This is something we hope to shed light on and discuss. For instance, last year the ISFiT board went on a theme research trip to Poland. We learned how the Polish government is using anti-gay propaganda campaigns on social media in order to gain more political power. Here, we can see that economic and power structures are still very important factors that regulate what knowledge is being created and what we consider to be “right” knowledge. In other words, I believe that being aware of the role knowledge plays in our societies is important to pay attention to in our modern world, and that it’s especially important that we as students are able to discuss this. That is why it is so great that ISFiT21 can be the platform to do this!