Mimer - National network for research on popular education

An oak in sunshine.

Mimer has since the founding 1990, been one of the central institutes for research on popular education in Sweden and Scandinavia. The name Mimer was originally referring to an ancient Nordic mythology figure with extraordinary wisdoms.

The contemporary name refers to a research network devoted to the conditions, processes and outcomes of adult learning in various popular educational settings. Ever since the popular movements in Scandinavia made a large-scale effort to organize themselves in the 19th century, popular education in Sweden has been associated with the existence of folk high schools and the creation of study circles. The type of research carried out in Mimer today is focusing on popular education in its various forms, contexts and issues.

Mimer is governed by an interdisciplinary advisory board (Mimerrådet) consisting of leading researchers and popular educators across Sweden in the broad area of popular education. The secretariat of the research network is hosted by Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, the division for Adult learning and Education. Professor Henrik Nordvall is the director of Mimer.

The aims of MIMER

The aims are:

  • Promoting research on popular education, no matter academic discipline or setting.
  • Creating, maintaining and developing a network and dialogue among researchers, as well as between researchers and popular educators
  • Disseminating information about popular educational research
  • Creating arenas that foster and establish cooperation between researchers and between researchers and popular educators.
  • Promoting overviews and research summaries of various topics relevant to the field of popular education
  • Promoting Nordic and International contacts in popular education as well as in Mimers’ own activities
  • Making research on popular education visible electronically'
  • Strengthening the interest in research on popular education within relevant fields of politics


  • An annual Research Conference
  • Seminars in cooperation with other actors
  • PhD-courses with nation-wide recruitment
  • Anthologies and short texts
  • A newsletter (Mimerbladet) two times per year
  • E-mail list (Mimernet)

Open access publications

Popular education, power and democracy
Popular education is a distinctive approach to lifelong learning in that it has always concerned itself with the relationship between learning, power and democracy. Mimer has initiated an international anthology which examine the themes of power and democracy through the distinctive Swedish tradition of popular education. It provides both a lens for a micro analysis of popular education’s contribution to enhancing people’s lives in communities and a mirror for reflecting on their wider significance.

Laginder, A.-M., Nordvall, H., & Crowther, J. (Eds.). (2013). Popular education, power and democracy: Swedish experiences and contributions

Special issue on Nordic Folk High Schools
To promote research on popular education Mimer initiates thematic issues. For example, this special issue on Folk High Schools in Nordic Studies in Education.  All four articles in this issue feature new research in the realm of Nordic popular education (folkbildning). Three of the studies are set in folk high schools, the fourth in a study circle.


Nordic database of researchers in folkbildning
Welcome to the database of Nordic researchers within the field of folkbildning. Folkbildning is a certain form of the non-formal adult education – sometimes called popular education or liberal adult education – which is shared by the Nordic countries. The database was initiated as a result of a project, funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, which mapped research in the field. Mimer in collaboration with Nordic organizations for folkbildning have carried out a mapping of research related to folkbildning through systemized searches in relevant research databases from 1998-2018. The mapping included academic researchers and experts in the field.

Nordic database