AMES, Iowa — Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, an Iowa State University assistant professor of community and regional planning, has received a 2022–2023 Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program Award to Norway for his project on “The Social Impacts of Heritage Policy: Gentrification and Displacement in Oslo.”

From August to December, Grevstad-Nordbrock will work with the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research’s (NIKU) Heritage and Society unit to explore the social impacts of heritage and preservation policy on immigrant neighborhoods in Oslo. He will also participate in NIKU’s pan-European “Deep Cities: Curating Sustainable URBAn Transformations through HERItage (CURABTHERI)” project.

In his successful Fulbright proposal, Grevstad-Nordbrock noted that his work in the field of historic preservation and heritage studies is unconventional in that he focuses less on historic buildings and neighborhoods as objects to be preserved, curated and interpreted, and more on the governmental processes that assign those objects historic value and the impact of historic designation on the people who live there.

“I’m less interested in the physical design aspects of preservation than in the social and economic dimensions,” Grevstad-Nordbrock said in a recent Zoom interview. “Oftentimes historic designation can drive gentrification and displacement, processes that are highly controversial due to their impacts on disenfranchised groups.”

Over the last three decades, refugees and other migrants arriving in Oslo found homes in older neighborhoods that were less desirable to locals at the time but are now seen as historic, attracting investment and increasing the cost of living, Grevstad-Nordbrock said. Newer immigrants from Poland, Pakistan, Somalia and Iraq who have settled in these neighborhoods, too, may feel pressure from developers as the real estate market heats up.

Grevstad-Nordbrock chose to partner with NIKU in part because it explores heritage in the context of communities and civic inclusion in cities like Oslo undergoing rapid change. And as an affluent global capital where historic neighborhoods are facing heritage-fueled gentrification decades later than in London, New York or Chicago, Oslo will make a great case study, he said.

“All my work so far has been in the U.S. and mainly in Chicago, so this will provide a comparative, cross-cultural basis for future research.”

Grevstad-Nordbrock looks forward to spending extended time with the NIKU research group and having the opportunity to explore his ideas on heritage and gentrification in Oslo, he said. He believes a better understanding of heritage-fueled gentrification will lead to more accountable public policies that factor in unintended or unacknowledged outcomes and their impacts on vulnerable populations, in the U.S. and abroad.

Grevstad-Nordbrock joined the Iowa State faculty in 2015 under the ISU president’s high impact hires initiative. He helped develop the preservation and cultural heritage graduate certificate program and establish the U.S. Department of State Cultural Heritage Documentation Project. He teaches courses in historic preservation planning, economic development through preservation, heritage tourism and urban revitalization.

Prior to Iowa State, Grevstad-Nordbrock served as historic preservation specialist for the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for 12 years. He had previously worked at the SHPO in Wisconsin and as a cultural resource management consultant.

He holds a bachelor of arts in psychology and master of arts in art history, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; a master of arts in historic preservation planning from Cornell University and a doctorate in urban and economic geography from Michigan State University.


Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, Community and Regional Planning, tedgn@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, 515-294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu