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NO 1 | MARCH 2015

People’s power prevails Stellan Vinthagen has rebellion and nonviolence on the schedule PAM FREDMAN’S VISION



More money to education

Freedom or interconnectivity?

First parts forged together





Vice Chancellor


A long-term approach makes it easier to use resources

March E D I TO R - I N C H I E F A N D P U B L I S H E R

Allan Eriksson  031 – 786 10 21 E D I TO R A N D V I C E P U B L I S H E R

W E A R E N OW well into the academic year, and although it would be an exaggeration to say that the political situation in Sweden is crystal clear, at least we know who the minister responsible for universities and other institutions of higher education is. Helene Hellmark Knutsson has commenced a tour of the country’s institutions of higher education, and on 9 March she will be visiting the University of Gothenburg. This will be an opportunity to introduce our programmes and activities, as well as to raise those issues that are of concern to us and in many aspects the entire higher education sector. Just in time for the Minister’s visit, our annual report for 2014 will have been adopted by the Board of the University of Gothenburg. It shows that we have experienced a very strong year. Both the base appropriations from the national government and the external contributions increased, the latter even more than anticipated. During the year we received several confirmations that we look pretty good in terms of international competition and that our priorities are in line with our vision to contribute to a better future. A proof that we have a world-class research environment includes the decision last autumn of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation to make a major investment in a molecular medicine centre in Gothenburg. W E H AV E A L S O seen success with our international recruitments and appointments, which of course is a priority for us. Our educational programme continues to be in high demand and in order for it to remain so several steps were taken last year to strengthen our role as a teaching and training university. New educational career paths, a pedagogical academy, and a universitywide pedagogical programme of ideas are just a few examples.

Eva Lundgren  031 – 786 10 81

Of the state’s total annual budget of SEK 870 billion, last year SEK 63.6 billion, or stated in percentage terms 7.3 percent, went to finance the higher education sector. By being such a significant part of the national government’s expenditures, it is essentially important that we can show that the money is used for what it was intended for. O N E CO N C E R N we share with the other major universities in Sweden is that over a period of years we have not fully used our financial resources at a sufficiently quick pace. This means that at the present time we have an accumulated capital in excess of SEK 1 billion. The University had budgeted for 2014 a surplus of SEK 30 million; instead, it came out a surplus of SEK 51 million, further adding to our coffers. The problem with not using that money at the pace that is planned is that we are postponing important developments within education and research. This may be partly explained by the fact it takes time to recruit and hire, and to get research projects going, and can also be due to the uncertainty in terms of our tasks and planning. But that the surplus continues to increase despite several years of focused work to reduce it is not acceptable. Since it is important that we can strengthen the quality of the educational programme, it is particularly disquieting that a large percentage of our unexpended capital remains available on the educational side.


Johan Wingborg  0705 – 953 801 G R A P H I C F O R M A N D L AYO U T

Anders Eurén  031 - 786 43 81


Charles Philps, Semantix ADDRESS

GU Journal, University of Gothenburg Box 100, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden E-MAIL INTERNET ISSUES

6 or 7 issues per year The next issue will come out in April 2015 DEADLINE FOR MANUSCRIPTS

March 16 2015 M AT E R I A L

The Journal does not take responsibility for unsolicited material. The editorial office is responsible for unsigned material. Feel free to quote, but please give your source. C OV E R

Stellan Vinthagen Photo: Johan Wingborg

I N O R D E R TO break the trend of an ever-growing capital reserve, our cautiousness when it comes to transforming existing resources to our activities must decrease. We need to get better at budgeting and we must dare to live with a smaller capital reserve. For this to happen, predictability and a long-term approach is essential. This is something that we need to work on internally at all levels, but it is also important to get the national government to understand that with greater predictability it becomes easier to increase the pace of recruitment and take in more researchers and teachers who will in turn generate even more activities and contribute to enhanced quality in both the educational programme and research. 3750M S-000256




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2 With more teachers and researchers, we strengthen our quality. NEWS

4 Pam Fredman on the next two years. IN MEMORIAM 7 The legacy of Per-Ingvar Brånemark. NEWS 8 We have a lot to learn from the US system, says Staffan I. Lindberg. 9 Better hiring process at the Faculty of Social Sciences. REPORT 10 Doctoral students in unique cooperation. PROFILE 12 Stellan Vinthagen gives

courses in civil disobedience.


22 Placing buoys in the Antarctic

With the world as working field

A new project will save both money and environment.

Stellan Vinthagen got the best imaginable Xmas present.

ESSAY 15 Reflections of a future digital geoscape. REPORT 16 This autumn, the new research vessel will be ready. 20 Five kilos of revenge and violent death – now in Swedish. AT THE END 22 Data collecting buoys in the Antarctic.

10 Doctoral duo Cooperation between marine ecology and environmental law.



The different parts are forged together GU Journal visited the shipyard in Gdynia.

In memory of a legend Per-Ingvar Brånemark’s discovery lives on.

The Editors: Does the University contribute to inequalities in the city? I N T H E PR E V I O U S I S S U E , we wrote about the cutbacks facing the journal that was projected for 2015. This would have meant producing two fewer issues per year. But now it is not as bad as first feared. The university management stepped forward with a special grant to cover one issue. We are pleased about this, but it does not change our view that it is unfortunate that cutbacks negatively affects a university-wide journal that has the task of informing

everyone what is happening throughout the university as well as facilitating free debate. We see our task as particularly important since other media have become increasingly less able to monitor the university world. In Vision 2020, it also states that the internal communications should be strengthened. As it stands now, our budget will be reduced by some SEK 50,000. That is not very much money in this context, but it does mean that we need to cut back with one

less issue per year, unless we somehow receive additional funding. We are also grateful to our newly installed editorial committee, which has reacted strongly against the cutbacks and has formulated an appeal which has stressed, inter alia, that the newspaper is one of the few university-wide forums for discussion and debate. It should therefore be spared. In this issue, we also present a long interview with Vice Chancellor Pam

Fredman, discuss new ways to recruit internationally, and describe a project where doctoral students from different disciplines work in pairs. We would also like to recommend our video on the research ship in Poland: watch?v=iNk9fLnRhwU. Continue to keep in touch!



»There will be no major c – We will work towards achieving the implementation of Vision 2020. It is essentially important that we strengthen the educational programme,” remarks Pam Fredman, who would like to see a major investment in independent courses so that more people will to be able to continue their studies as they remain in the workforce. In addition, she hopes that the new national administration provides universities more freedom and larger basic grants. Pam Fredman will have been Vice Chancellor for nine years and if the government appoints her for an additional term as expected, she has two years remaining. We meet in the University Building in Vasa­parken, where Pam Fredman has her office with large windows that look out onto the park. Pam sounds a little surprised when she hears that she is the longest serving Vice Chancellor of the University of Gothenburg since 1966. But she shrugs her shoulders and says she remains deeply engaged and feels a strong commitment and passion to be a part of guiding the University of Gothenburg into the future. HIS SUMMER,

“Among other things, we will look over and review our progress with Vision 2020 and Renewing GU in order to see what has happened so far and what we should be focusing on in the future. This review is to be completed by the summer of 2016.”

Now that you are headed down the home stretch, can we expect to see any major changes of course?

What measures are you most pleased with in the research programme that have been taken in order to improve our ranking as a research university?

“No, I don’t think so. We have done a great deal of ground-laying fundamental work during my time as Vice Chancellor. The work with Vision 2020 and Renewing GU continues, and that work will not be altered to any significant extent. But that does not mean that we will be standing still; absolutely not. “The entire vision based on that we will grow and develop, and become even better in many areas. What is most important now is that we get to work in peace and quiet within the organisation with the goals we have established.”

“We have had a strong focus on research and that has been of urgent concern to the highest degree. In recent years, GU has been very successful in a number of areas. We have received good allocations in terms of external funding and been a recipient of many of the Swedish Research Council’s special investments for the recruitment and hiring of leading international researchers. The latest news is the Wallenberg Foundation’s contribution related to life sciences and molecular medicine, which is proof that our research of the highest international standards.”

GUJOURNAL 1 | 2015


that the areas will disappear. We reason in the same way as we have done with internationalisation and gender equality. The fundamental thing is that these areas are part of the research and the educational programmes, not separate tracks. It is important that we do not lose any part of their activities but they must be integrated into the daily operations at all levels.”

»We must continue to ensure that our best researchers contribute, to the greatest extent possible, to the educational programme.« PAM FREDMAN

”We must invest more in the educational programmes, but without losing focus on our research programmes,” says Pam Fredman, who is looking forward to another two years as Vice Chancecllor of the University.

change of course« What areas would you like to focus on and see more investment in, in the coming years?

“We must invest more in the educational programmes, but without losing focus on our research programmes. The fundamental principle is that we must never compromise on quality. With regard to the numbers of student places on the educational side, we have received new tasks and responsibilities which unfortunately, are not being funded. The challenge is to maintain our quality alongside the increased tasks and responsibilities. Being the optimist I am, I am hopeful that the resources will be made available. It is nevertheless still in the field of teaching that we make the greatest efforts, for our future skills and expertise within the society at large. Over the years, we have done quite a lot, including introducing a merit rating for teaching skills. We must continue to ensure that our best researchers contribute, to the greatest extent possible, to the educational programme, including at the undergraduate level. That is the prevailing situation at the best universities in the

United States. The attitude that one can buy their way out of teaching responsibilities in order to engage solely in research is not consistent with our fundamental values.” Vision 2020 was launched in January 2013. If you were to sum up your experiences, how well do you think it has gone?

“I believe that the Vision 2020 project has played a very important part in achieving our goals. But even if not everyone knows about Vision 2020, this is the most important strategy we have had, and we make our action plans at all levels based on the Vision. In fact, Vision 2020 has become realised to a greater extent than I would have imagined when we first started.” At year-end, there are two Deputy Vice Chancellors remaining, for education and research. The positions of two Deputy Vice Chancellors have been abolished – aren’t quality and interaction important key areas?

“We have not done away with these Deputy Vice Chancellors’ functions in order

Two strong areas of Vision 2020 are internationalisation and broadening recruitment. The same areas are emphasised by the new national administration which also prioritises investments in higher education. How will GU be working with issues relating to broadening recruitment and hiring in relation to the quantity and quality within higher education?

“We have recently put together a team to work with the issue of broadening recruitment. It is not yet clear what the national administration will focus on, but we simply cannot wait until this is clarified. For me, broadening recruitment encompasses a wide variety of dimensions gender, ethnicity and social background. And lifelong learning will also become increasingly important. The longer our working life becomes, the more important it becomes that we can stock up on skills. Most probably, many people will choose a new type of job or new profession during their lifetime. Nobody can say with any degree of certainty much about what our labour market will look like in the coming years. On a national level, it is important to review the issue of validation. We must learn to utilise everyone’s professional experience and previous educational background and training, and this applies even more so to those who come to Sweden from other countries. But how this will look like, that is something for the working group to come up with suggestions for.” “I have also been critical of the resources accounting system which does not favour individual courses. These never result in a 100 percent completion rate to a degree. Lifelong learning will mainly focus on independent courses for people who are also in the workforce. It is clear that this costs money, and so far we have been expected to do this within the framework of our presently available resources.” How should we be working with internationalisation in the coming years, in practical terms?

“If I may say so, I think we have come a long way so far. Considerable work is presently underway in the faculties and departments. We see that there is significantly more international recruiting today than compared with prior years. The departments publically announce positions in an entirely different way today and this has several beneficial effects. Among other things in that it reduces the internal recruitment. In terms of the recruitment of master’s students from outside of Europe, we still have a long way to go, but this year that numbers were gratifying. Now we also need to develop support functions, especi-


News tion involves having a clarity in terms of the allocation of responsibilities and powers; another is the importance of the need to be clear and systematic. We have extensive requirements placed on us to deal with issues in the manner that public authority must, such as adhering to the rule of law and our work environment safety responsibilities. However on the other hand, the content of the research and educational programme is naturally an expertise that the collegiate structure has.” There is a desire, in some quarters, to reintroduce the department’s governing boards in order to strengthen collegiality.


»But on the whole, there is not really all that much we can do centrally, but rather the work must be done at the faculties and departments.« PAM FREDMAN

ally those particularly relevant for visiting researchers and students. In addition, we need to work at providing information in English better than we do presently, so that the preparation and decision-making bodies can handle the participation of members who are not particularly fluent in Swedish.” “All of us can become much better at learning more from each other at the departments. But on the whole, there is not really all that much we can do centrally, but rather the work must be done at the faculties and departments. From the university management, we must facilitate the process and remove any obstacles that may arise.” At the latest this year, 40 percent of all newly appointed professors are to be women. Will GU reach this gender equality goal, and what are the next steps?

“We are already really very close to reaching the goal today. But of course we cannot be complacent with this. In the future, we must do more work with norms and attitudes. I feel that there is a high degree of awareness within the organisation. It is also on the local level where the problems can best be dealt with. We will develop an action plan and my task is to prod and press forward. Another issue that we need to look at is how we are presently recruiting today. How we assess qualifications, skills and credentials may also be excluding some, from an egalitarian and gender equality perspective. For example, the calls for major research programmes have not benefited women. I am convinced that the lack of secure career paths is a key explanation. The fact that many so people lack secure

employment makes it probable that more often women are opting out of such a work situation.” Many believe that the New Public Management inspired governance has increased with the progressively growing autonomy within the higher education community. How do you regard this development, and is it something that concerns you?

“The debates concerning new public management are interesting and important to have, and this applies to all public authorities, not only the universities. I think it’s great that the national government wants to investigate new forms of governance. Maybe things have gone too far towards a system that was specifically adapted for the business community and which doesn’t fit in so well with public sector activities. In recent years, the national government has become far too involved in our activities, for instance in regards to form of governance, reviews and auditing, and dictating the volumes within our educational programme. I would prefer that we would have more freedom to decide on our own about our activities.” There has been criticism directed against the university that it has become more top-down governed with its stronger organisational control exercised over line functions. What is your view on this?

“There is a great range of different opinions about how far we have gone. We must learn to live with a line organisation while at the same time we have a collegial structure. An important part of the line organisa-

“The issue will certainly be addressed in connection with the review of Renewing GU. It was also one of the hardest parts when we worked to produce a new organisational structure. There were two camps back then and also the students were concerned that they would not have sufficiently significant influence. In some parts of the university, there were departmental councils and they did not want to go back. Others preferred departmental governing boards. In order to provide clarity on responsibilities and authorities, the basis in Renewing GU was that we would have a consistency or uniformity across the University. For me, what it is important is that it works, that it involves the educational and other staff, and ensures that decisions made are the best for the activities.” What are the biggest challenges that the University of Gothenburg faces in the coming years?

“It is the funding of our increased volume in terms of the educational programme. We have a large teacher training programme, and a large educational and vocational training programme within health and medical care. Professional vocational courses are in great demand in the community but the challenge is to manage fluctuations. Now we live with the Alliance’s budget, but when we receive the new national administration’s budget, we must begin to move places again. This creates an erratic situation. With regard to funding, we must have money that we have control over and can determine on our own how to spend. Today, external research funding is so great that a significant portion goes to the cofinancing and is diverted to areas which the external donors direct and where we do not have control.” “In order to be able to successfully meet all the demands placed on us, we need to be receiving increased core funding from the state, which is something that most of the successful universities have. As it is now, we must account for each and every penny, whether it is for teaching or research. Allow us to have one single appropriation, just as is done in Denmark and Norway. I sincerely hope that we will see this in the government’s research bill that will be considered by the Riksdag in 2016.” TEXT: ALLAN ERIKSSON PHOTO: JOHAN WINGBORG

In Memoriam 

GUJOURNAL 1 | 2015


Per-Ingvar Brånemark’s research lives on On 20 December last year, Per-Ingvar Brånemark passed away – at age 85. But his great discovery that titanium can fuse with bone tissue, not only lives on but will continue to be developed and evolve for better treatment methods. And today, researchers in Gothenburg are global leaders within the field of osseointegration. T WO Y E A R S AG O, news of a world innovation from Chalmers and the Sahlgrenska Academy: a patient had received a new arm prosthesis that worked almost just as well as a real arm. The developer was Max Ortiz Catalan, under the guidance of Bo Håkansson and a son of Per-Ingvar Brånemark, Rickard Brånemark. “Prior to our method, the most advanced prostheses was attached with electrodes on the surface of the skin. That meant that the prostheses certainly can be controlled by will. But it can only perform a few movements, and also is extremely sensitive to heat and cold. The prostheses we are currently developing are instead directly connected into the muscles and nerves in the amputation stump remaining after the amputation. Thus the signals to the brain become stronger, the prosthesis becomes easier to control, and it functions much more like a real body part. The patients we operated on perceive their arm prosthesis as part of their body and are capable of doing really advanced things, such as tying their shoelaces and handling raw eggs without breaking them,” explains Rickard Brånemark. T H I S I S J U ST one example of new therapies that the discovery of osseointegration has led to.” Another is the bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA), developed by Bo Håkansson, which means that a hearing aid is attached with a titanium screw in the skull so that the sound vibrations are conducted into the inner ear. This method, which has helped more than 100,000 hearing-impaired patients, has now been further developed into a bone conduction implant (BCI), which hopefully is more effective and will lead to fewer complications, explains Rickard Brånemark. “Biomatcell, led by Professor Peter

great talent and hard work. But also due to a fairly large degree of stubbornness and perseverance, observes son Rickard Brånemark. once when I was a young boy, maybe seven years old, and our entire family went on a skiing trip to Norway. The weather was really bad and the three of us children sat indoors and kept ourselves warm while Mom and Dad were out having fun. Suddenly Mom came rushing in yelling that Dad had injured his leg and was far away somewhere out there in the snow. Our attempts to seek help took a good bit of time. But before we found help, while looking out the door whom did we see out there come limping along through the storm, if not Dad. He had taken some straps from his rucksack and wrapped them taut around his foot and was now heading towards us. It later emerged that his foot was broken. But nevermind it was in a plaster cast, it did not prevent him from quickly returning to the Department of Anatomy in a wheelchair and resuming to teach his students!” “I REMEMBER


One of the University of Gothenburg’s most well known researchers, Per-Ingvar Brånemark, passed away on December 20, 2014. The photo was taken in 2010.

»His research led to a completely new direction within medicine.« RICKARD BRÅNEMARK

Thomsen, a former graduate student of my father, is a world leader not only when it comes to the analysis of how the prosthesis is attached, such as in the hip, but also when it comes to developing even better adhering implants. New, intelligent implants will be able to be developed, which both pick up signals from inside the body, such as blood measurements and insulin levels, and then sends the information back and thus interacts with the body.” But it was Per-Ingvar Brånemark’s discovery that titanium has the ability

to fuse with bone tissue which forms the basis for all of these treatments.” discovery back in the early 1950s, but it was not widely accepted until almost 20 years later. He showed that metal can grow attached to the tissue, which at first nobody in the field wanted to believe was possible, but which then eventually led to a completely new direction within medicine.” That Per-Ingvar Brånemark succeeded so well with his research was due of course to a combination of “ DA D M A D E H I S

Per-Ingvar Brånemark (1929–2014) In 1952, Professor Brånemark found that titanium implanted into the bone tissue became fused and anchored. He coined the term, osseointegration. In 1965, a dental plate was attached with titanium screws in a patient for the first time. It wasn’t until the late 1970s however that the method became widely accepted. Today, 15 to 20 million osseointegrated dental implants are set annually worldwide. The method is also used in many other contexts, such as the anchoring of certain hearing aids and various prostheses. Also read Akademiliv’s commemorative remarks: www.



Learn from the best! “To succeed in recruiting internationally, we must adapt to international systems.” So argues professor of political science Staffan I. Lidberg. He has recruited both postdocs and visiting scholars from leading US universities. STA FFA N I . LI N D B E RG spent eight years in the US, where he has both gone through the tenure track system and sat on several recruitment committees. He believes that the University of Gothenburg makes several serious errors when trying to recruit internationally. “Not just in the US but also in large parts of Asia and Europe, each university subject follows a certain cycle when it comes to announcing and filling positions. Those who do not follow this cycle find it difficult to recruit, at least from a renowned university.” In the field of political science for instance, the top universities publically announce open positions in August-September with the deadline in September–October. Then things happen quickly.

break, they have employed the academic researchers they want and he or she can start working as early as August the following year. The universities at a slightly lower level have a cycle that begins slightly later, and therefore those applicants who have not found a job at a top university.” The reason that the hiring process goes so fast in the US is that the universities there do not have the cumbersome and lengthy system of using experts that we have here in Sweden, resulting in that a position here can take over a year to fill. “In the US, it is instead the head of the department’s task to form a committee “ B E FO R E T H E W I N T E R

”The University of Gothenburg will never be good at international recruiting if we don’t start learning from ohter countries,” says Staffan I. Lindberg.

»The Swedish system is so demanding that the experts do not always­ have time to do an especially thorough job.« of experts in the department that goes through all the applications. The committee has maybe two weeks to compile a list of suitable candidates which is then presented to the entire faculty where they also state their views and reasoning. From these, a handful are selected who are then invited to an interview and trial lectures which can occur over a couple of few days. After being put to a vote, the candidates are ranked, and then they are contacted.” T H E S U G G E STI O N that the US system might have a lower quality than the Swedish situation, is something that Staffan I. Lindberg does not agree with. “The Swedish system is so demanding that the appointed experts do not always have time to do an especially thorough

job. Moreover, it is an advantage that the faculty, who naturally will work with the newly hired member of the faculty, is involved in the process and decision. A special procedure with experts should be allowed to take up to a month, I think. If it takes more time, one doesn’t shoot himself in the foot, but even worse.” IT I S A L S O important to advertise the position in the right place. In political science, that means the American Political Science Association (APSA) or in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “GU makes it unnecessarily difficult for itself by insisting on British English in their contacts with the outside world. ‘Senior lecturer’ in England means a docent [associate professor] in Sweden, but in the US this would indicate simply teaching position without any research activities, and so too in many other parts of the world. Therefore we risk missing out on attracting potential applicants due to the terminology in missing the announcement. Also, our application times are frequently all too short; if the application must be received within three weeks, this is often perceived as if one has already decided upon who will get the job. The application period must be at least twice as long.” Another international customary prac-

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Speeding up recruitments Previously, the time needed to recruit and hire a lecturer or professor could, in some cases, take as much as 2 years. But now the Faculty of Social Sciences is working on speeding up the entire process and soon it will take close to average of six months. PHOTO: L AR S-OLOF K ARL SSON

and sluggish process with many bottlenecks. That we have a process with the involvement of experts is extremely important for the objective assessment, but it is not reasonable that it should have to take so long,” in the view of the Dean, Birger Simonson. That it has now been decided to do something about it is largely due to that the departments got more money as a result of the increase in the price tag of hu­man­ities and social sciences. But because it can take so long to recruit and hire teachers, the money has accumulated at the top. “It could take an incredibly long time before the teacher recruitments resulted in a few hours that benefited the students. Now, we have taken a different measure, namely that we take back from the departments any surplus of over 10 percent starting with this year’s financial accounts. Though I do not think it will actually be necessary since the departments are now investing heavily in the recruitment and hiring of teachers.” “ IT I S A LO N G

tice is to ask for letters of recommendation from the applicant explains Staffan I. Lindberg. “In order for a letter of recommendation to be able to contain even a less than flattering recommendation, it is important that it is possible to keep recommendation letters private. As Swedish law concerning public access to documents requires that they be public, letters of recommendation can not be sent with the application documents. Instead, the problem can be resolved by requesting the applicant to provide three names, for instance, that the department may contact separately for details.” A D D ITI O N A LLY, the demands that are placed on various positions, such as that applicants for a teaching position must have at least 200 hours of experience in teaching, means that younger international researchers do not have a chance to be considered. But students applying to Harvard or Yale hardly do so because a teacher there who plodded along and taught more or less at full time for the past 10 years. They are attracted to those universities who have the best renown academic scholars. Good teaching usually comes in as a part of the package.”


I N PR I N C I PLE it is the same process as before. If an department wishes to recruit a lecturer or professor, the text of the announcement must be examined by the Appointments Committee, an expert opinion obtained, and then the Appointments Committee takes it up again to discussed this with the top candidates being presented and screened, selecting those most promising, before it all finally lands on the desk of Department Head. Then the interviews are held, followed by trial lectures. But since the Appointments Committee only meets every five weeks, it is up to the department heads to arrange the matters so that they are submitted in sync with the meeting dates. And then when a person finally gets offered the job it naturally takes

Birger Simonson wants to make the appointment process easier.

»We have shortened­ the ­times at all levels.« time before he or she starts. “We have shortened the times at all levels. We require that the applications from the departments are complete. Among other things, we have become more stringent with the experts in that they have to stay on schedule. Previously, it might be drawn out over a long period of time, for any number of reasons. We are also looking a whether we can raise the fees and perhaps introduce a ‘mover,’ a bonus premium for an expedited review, but it is not a question we can decide upon by ourselves, as there is an agreement with other social science faculties in the country.” I F A N E X PE R T opinion procedure could be given more significance as an assessment of qualifications and become better paid, it would also become easier to get people to be eager to participate, argues Birger Simonson. This is particularly important with the announcement of professorships, as the participation of three experts is required. “The remuneration today is negligible, and it is an extensive job that has to get done in a short period of time. It is already

difficult today to get qualified experts. And in terms of gender equality issues, only one-third of all professors in the country are women while at the same time we are to have an even gender distribution among the experts. This leads to the situation where women professors easily become overutilised.” B I RG E R S I M O N S O N also feels that the faculty has become better at recruiting internationally especially due to that the text announcing the open positions have been made available in both Swedish and English. According to a survey made, approximately one-half of all new hires are from other universities. “We are good at getting applicants from other countries, especially when it comes to professorships. It is desirable to have more foreign teachers, but at the same time it is also a potential problem since such a large part of our undergraduate courses are given in Swedish. And if we were to change the primary language in the educational programme to English, this might risk excluding many new Swedes who may have English as a third language,” says Birger Simonson. To adopt a new system somewhat approaching the US recruiting and hiring system is something he does not think is the way to go. “ T H E R E , IT C A N all be done in a few days. I think there is great value in maintaining our system with the use of experts, and this means of course that it naturally takes time. It strengthens the credibility of recruitment process and ensures transparency in that one can really trust that each candidate has received an objective assessment.” The objective is to reduce the time so that it is only four to five months before a person starts to work. “We’re not there yet, but it is not an unrealistic goal,” remarks Birger Simonson.




The Best of Two Worlds

To research in pairs across faculty boundaries and academic disciplines provides new approaches, insights and different perspectives, and more breadth. That’s the view of doctoral

D O C TO R A L ST U D E N T in the field of law who swims at piers along the Bohuslän coast in order to study how the seaweed Zostera marina grows. Or a marine ecologist who invokes legal texts in asserting claims for compensation when someone has built a pier and thus destroyed a seagrass bed. Does that sound a bit odd? Within the interdisciplinary Zorro (Zostera restoration) research project, this is almost a daily occurrence. “As someone working with the law, it is fun to get out into the real world. That I myself personally checked out the eelgrass habitat gives me a completely different understanding when I later will be studying various matters from a legal perspective,” observes Kristjan Laas. “And I will get quite another weight for my research in marine ecology when I can show that I have taken the various legal aspects into account,” remarks Louise Eriander. TO G E T H E R T H E Y form one of the pairs in the unique paired doctoral students school at the University of Gothenburg. The paired doctoral students programme pairs up students from diverse disciplines in order to create innovative, interdisciplinary collaborations. How the whole thing works is that two researchers from different faculties write a joint project plan and with this as the basis, each apply for their respective doctoral position. The academic supervisors and doctoral students then work wholly or partly together, but the graduate students are employed at their respective institutions and will go through the process of receiving their doctoral degree, each independently on their own. In the project Zorro case, the academic supervisors are Lena Gipperth, Associate Professor of Environmental Law, and Per Moksnes, Associate Professor of Marine Ecology. With funding from the University

of Gothenburg and the Swedish Research Council Formas, they started their joint project at the close of 2010. “Per contacted me and said he had an idea concerning eelgrass. Great fun Per, I replied, but there goes my limit,” relates Lena Gipperth laughing at the memory. “I saw no legal connection with eelgrass.” “But when he mentioned something about compensation claims it clicked. Here is something we actually could work on together and develop into an important working relationship. When someone destroys something, another party must be able to seek compensation in order to arrange for having it restored.” W IT H I N T H E ZO R RO project, the group is now conducting researches into why the stock of marine eelgrass, a type of seagrass, has declined so dramatically on the west coast for the past 20 years and as well how the eelgrass beds might be able to be restored. And in addition, also about the legal demands for compensation for destroyed marine eelgrass beds, that public authorities for example might be able to pursue, and studying the issue if the Swedish legislation should perhaps be made clearer, tougher and more in line with the EU’s more stringent environmental legislation. In addition to the academic supervisors and doctoral students, two additional researchers, economist Scott Cole and biologist Eduardo Infantes, are included in the group. “Our project showed up at precisely the right time,” remarks Per Moksnes. “As soon as we have a result, there is someone who wants to learn about it. It is really exciting that what we are doing is in so much demand.” W IT H T H E N E W funding from the Swedish Agency for Marine and Water Management, the Zorro project has also secured its activities’ finances for an additional four years. But how does it actually it work, to conduct interdisciplinary research? Do the

doctoral students have any understanding at all what the other person is doing? “To be honest, when I sought the funding for this doctoral research position I didn’t exactly know what marine eelgrass was or what essential importance it has in the ecosystem,” says Kristjan Laas. “But I did my undergraduate thesis project in environmental law and it sounded interesting to me.” To put themselves into each other’s discipline has been one of the major challenges. And as well, being able to actually understand the terms and expressions specific to the other’s discipline. “It has been challenging, but on the other hand, extraordinarily useful. It’s far too easy to become a little too engrossed in one’s own particular subject and take for granted that everyone understands what you’re talking about,” observes Louise Eriander. “Here, I have been forced to present my thinking much clearer and in more concrete terms.” “ I N T H E B EG I N N I N G we also had small minilectures for each other in the group. What is fundamental in order to gain an understanding of the legal system? What function does the marine eelgrass fulfil? So we have developed a common understanding in the three years we have worked together so far.” Both Kristjan Laas and Louise Eriander find it inspiring to be part of a joint research programme, and think that research becomes more dynamic in this way. “It becomes more exciting and less predictable. Questions show up that I never would have asked on my own or thought about if I was just sitting there working alone with my dissertation,” notes Kristjan. But difficulties arise too. Among other things, the writing of the joint research articles which their respective dissertations will be partly based on. “Yes, the writing process is a bit more difficult. Just sitting together with a text naturally takes longer time,” comments Louise. And there have been difficulties at times


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Louise Eriander is a doctoral student in marine ecology and Kristjan Laas is a doctoral student in environmental law.

»Questions show up that I never would have asked on my own if I was just sitting there working alone with my dissertation.« KRISTJAN LAAS FACTS

getting the respective departments to go along. “It isn’t easy to be interdisciplinary. The risk is that you won’t really be taken seriously by any discipline,” observes the academic supervisor Lena Gipperth. “So for us, it is very important that the doctoral student graduates in their own subject to be credible the entire way. The paired doctoral student school is an innovation in and of itself and the departments have perhaps not been fully prepared. We have received a lot of very positive feedback but in terms of administration, it has been a bit tricky.” Exactly how a doctoral dissertation should look like, Kristjan Laas has been struggling a bit with. “To build a dissertation on published articles as I am doing now is uncommon in the Department of Law, as here it is

more customary to write a monograph.” “But the kind of resistance I encountered, I still felt was out of a concern for me as a PhD candidate. The Department didn’t want to throw me out into deep water,” adds Kristjan. N O, T H E I D E A is not to expose students to some form of experimentation, but rather to broaden their fields and make research more rooted in reality. “Our hope is that the paired doctoral students will have a better interdisciplinary understanding, and then will be able to build upon this and progress further. Who knows, maybe they will create an entirely new, interdisciplinary subject in the future.”


Interdisciplinary project: No-net-loss and restoration of marine habitats: Legal and ecological constraints and solutions. Participating institutions: The Department of Law and the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences. Paired doctoral students: Louise Eriander (marine ecology) and Kristjan Laas (environmental law). Academic supervisors: Lena Gipperth, Associate Professor of Environmental Law, and Per Moksnes, Associate Professor of Marine Ecology. Read more about the project at: www. A little bit about marine eelgrass • Also known generally as seagrass; grows in shallow bays. • Eelgrass is an important link in the ecosystem. Among other things, it binds

sediment to the sea floor and this makes the water clearer and prevents erosion of beaches. It is important for biodiversity as cod, eel and whiting live there and eat the small animals that live in the eelgrass. • Over the past 20 years, the eelgrass population has declined by 60 percent on the west coast of Sweden. • Eutrophication (nutrient pollution) and overfishing, as well as a greater exploitation of the coast with the building of so many piers, are the likely causes of the dramatic decline. Learn more about GU’s paired doctoral student programme and other projects: • school/graduate-school-projects



Master of Resistance Xmas eve 2013, the phone rings at the home of Stellan Vinthagen. It is the University of Massachusetts who is informing him that he has been named the world’s first professor in the study of nonviolent direct action and civil resistance. “The academic appointment, which is directly aimed at overthrowing dictatorships and promoting human rights, was the best Christmas present I could ever imagine.”

H E ECO -V I LL AG E on Orust is seductively picturesque, even on this grey, cold January day when the GU Journal is looking down the winding roads. One finds here some twenty ecologically built houses, fruit trees, a forest, and a flock of sheep peacefully grazing in the meadow. Water is obtained from the adjacent lake and the root zone wastewater treatment system is built by craftsmen from the alternative community of Christiania in Copenhagen. We are heading to a white house with green-painted gingerbread work from 1861. This is where Stellan and Li Vinthagen have lived for the past 7 years. They’ve recently returned from Amherst, Massachusetts,


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»With discipline and diligent training, things can actually get better« family has previously been active in the anti-Vietnam War movement, as well as the civil rights movement, but wishes to remain anonymous. “The United States is full of contrasts. While the country accounts for just over half of the world’s military spending and performs more interventions than any other country, there is also a strong tradition of resistance in a way that hardly exists in Sweden anymore.”

where they got themselves an apartment in Pioneer Valley Cohousing. Out falls the first drops of rain, but the fire is crackling in one of the many tile-faced wood-burning stoves. Stellan Vinthagen picks up some coffee cups and it shows that he is still struck by the enormity of the task assigned to him. is almost improbably favourable. First of all, it is for life, similar to how it used to be in Sweden, but however with an assessment being conducted every seven years. It is expected I travel a lot and therefore will only have teaching responsibilities three months each autumn.” The professorship is funded by a Quaker family, with a donation of $2.8 million. The “ T H E PRO FE S S O R S H I P

T H E S E LEC TI O N PRO C E S S took the university two years in order to choose the person they thought was precisely right for the position. Among other things Stellan Vinthagen had to undergo, he was subjected to some thirty interviews and had to give two test lectures as a part of the appointment process. “They wanted someone who could build networks, apply for research funding, and collaborate with both activists and academics. And that is precisely what I have been doing throughout my entire academic life!” Stellan Vinthagen was raised on stories about Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. His father was a conscientious objector and his grandfather a trade union activist who ended up in a Swedish military prison during the war because he let in Jews when he was supposed to be guarding the border in Skåne. “My parents were perceived as hippies in the small community of Ramsjö outside of Ljusdal where I grew up with new-age, yoga and meditation in a kind of vegetarian dictatorship. My first protest action, which I performed already as a four year old, was one day when I rushed to the meat counter in the local grocery store and pinched a sausage that I immediately gobbled up. The butcher had a good laugh, as being the only vegetarians in the countryside there, we were of course quite well known; but my mother insisted anyway on paying for my snack.” TO DAY, H E B OT H uses snuff and he drinks, and a vegetarian he is not. But the most important lesson from his parents, that a human being has a moral responsibility for what he does with his life, followed him throughout his life. The wisdom of life, however, didn’t come only from his family. “Today I am utterly and completely disinterested in sports. But when I was young, it was football that taught me that with discipline and diligent training, things can actually get better. And this applies in all areas: human beings have the capacity to both do good and to do bad, but with practice we can strengthen that which is good.”

In the 1980s, Stellan Vinthagen was active in the Ploughshares movement, protesting against the JAS 39 Gripen and Bofors, among other things. In 1986, he was one of the activists who eventually got three months in a West German prison for having knocked down and breaking the firing equipment to a nuclear missile. In 1998, he participated in a campaign against the British nuclear submarine Trident, which led to six months behind bars. He also protested against the Trident in 2007, along with seventy other researchers, via the Academic Seminar Blockade. And in 2012 he was one of the eleven Swedes who were arrested by the Israeli authorities on the Ship to Gaza ship Estelle. He wrote part of his doctoral thesis while in jail. “When I got to university, I thought at first that I would be considered controversial. But I have never experienced this. Instead, it is from activist meetings that I have literally been thrown out.” But that his time in jail would ever be regarded as an asset when he applied for the professorship in Massachusetts is something that Stellan Vinthagen had not expected. Nor that collaboration with activists all over the globe would be a crucial part of the job. “There are those who argue that social scientists must be neutral vis-à-vis the subject they are studying, but I don’t agree with that. Let’s compare this with medicine. No one questions the fact that medical researchers collaborate with medical clinics and make use of their practical experience in order to fight disease. I look at conflict and peace research in the same way: there are activists around the world who under difficult circumstances build up knowledge about how to conduct resistance. To me it is a given that my research is ultimately about supporting their struggle for democratisation and human emancipation.” FO R E V E N I F the state of the world may seem bleak, things are happening indeed. Since the 1970s, people in about forty countries have managed to free themselves from oppression and these societies have evolved towards greater freedom via resistance as a part of peoples’ movements, moreover, almost entirely without the use of violence. “There is hardly anything that is stronger than organised popular people power! Democratisation is remarkably hopeful in South Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Chile, for instance, and not least in many countries in the formerly socialist countries of Eastern Europe. If one looks at the past 106 years, peaceful resistance as a political movement has been twice as effective as armed struggle. The world has never before seen such a popular mobilisation and trans-national cooperation as it has today. The fight is far greater than it was against slavery in the 1800s, for example. But what really surprises me is that so few researchers have taken an interest in how the Latin American military regimes fell, in Solidarność, or in the longing for freedom that we now see in the Arab world. Traditionally, the examinations conflict


Profile STELLAN VINTHAGEN WORKS: Hold an endowed chair (at a 75 percent of full-time position) as the world’s first professor in the study of nonviolent direct action and civil resistance at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA; but will be working 40 percent in Sweden (at the University of Gothenburg’s School of Global Studies and the University West’s Department of Social and Behavioral Studies. One of the driving forces behind the Resistance Studies Network.

and peace researchers engage in focus on exploring the causes of war, dictatorships, and injustice. Now it should be time to find out how to proceed further and achieve change.” But Stellan Vinthagen does not want to act as a megaphone that uncritically passes on what activists want to promote. “My job instead is to be sympathetic but critical: why don’t the uprisings bring better results?; what are the internal difficulties?; are there power struggles on-going or even outright oppression also among these people? As I myself have been devoted to civil disobedience, I can detect such things which the activists, for good reasons, are reluctant to talk about.” it is difficult to overthrow a dictator, the work that follows is even more difficult. Then the groups that have fought together with each other try to reach agreement and get along with each other, and that this doesn’t always go so well is shown, for instance, with the developments in Egypt. What needs to be done is to the highlight good examples, such as South Africa, argues Stellan Vinthagen. “After the clear-cut electoral victory in 1994, the ANC, instead of governing in an unlimited way with unrestricted power, invited the former oppressors to join them in a unity government. Although South Africa today is just as unequal as before, and the ANC might be considered quite corrupt, what they have done there is that they have been able to establish a democracy.” What would he then give for advice to protesters, for example to the young people in Hong Kong, who in December were evicted from their tent camps? “In Hong Kong, the activists made three mistakes: firstly, a little group fighting against an overbearing regimen should not be making demands that are too excessive; it is better that change happens in stages. Secondly, it is ill-advised to focus their opposition at a tent camp or some other physical location that can be attacked; instead, the resistance should be combined with methods such as boycotts or something like that that is difficult to access. The third failure was failing to spread the mobilisation to the Chinese mainland. But think for a moment, what if the activists had been able to learn what to do by taking a course from experienced activists and scholars? That is what I hope, with my research, to achieve.” For those who want to engage in peaceful resistance, they have to find cracks in the system, emphasises Stellan Vinthagen. “To bring Hitler round to reverse course FO R E V E N T H O U G H

BOOKS: Doctoral dissertation: Ickevåldsaktion – en social praktik av motstånd och konstruktion [Nonviolent Action – A Social Practice of Resistance and Construction] (2005), Motstånd [Resistance] (2009, together with Mona Lilja), Motståndets väg: civil olydnad som teori och praktik [Path of Resistance: Civil Disobedience Theory and Practice] (2011, together with Pelle Strindlund), Tackling Trident (2012, together with Justin Kenrick and Kelvin Mason), Law, Resistance and Transformation: Social movements and legal strategies in the Indian Narmada struggle (2014, together with Håkan Gustafsson and Patrik Gustafsson), and A Theory of Nonviolent Action (2015). FAMILY: Wife Li and daughter Ninja.

»We increasingly seem to be living in a glass bubble where the outside world does not exist.«

AGE: 50 years old. FAVOURITE BOOK: The War of the End of the World by Mario Vargas Llosa. STELL AN RECOMMENDS: The award-winning book Why Civil Resistance Works by Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan. FAVOURITE MOVIES: Matrix, Terminator 2, Det stora blå, Svart katt – Vit katt [The Big Blue, Black Cat -White Cat].

for instance, would hardly have been possible. On the other hand however, it is possible to establish relationships with a few people within the regime who can contribute to an easing of the repression. But the trend towards a more high-tech warfare makes this much more difficult. How does one for example protest against the military in the US fighting a war with the help of remote-controlled drones and therefore never sees the people they kill? In Pakistan, activists have put out huge pictures on the ground so that the drones should at least register a human face.” What seems to be the most difficult to resist is an occupation, explains Stellan Vinthagen. I hope is to bring together groups from, for example, Palestine, Western Sahara, West Papua and Tibet in order to be able to share each other’s experiences and learn from previous resistance movements.” Sweden has a strong tradition of solidarity, Stellan Vinthagen reminds us. “For instance, in the early 1990s, Sweden provided half of the ANC’s annual budget, and Sweden was one of the first countries to give recognition to the PLO. However today we increasingly seem to be living in a glass bubble where the outside world does not exist.” We have simply forgotten that even Sweden’s development into a democracy with extensive personal freedom is based on civil resistance, argues Stellan Vinthagen. “Every part of the Swedish Constitution can actually be traced back to the great popular movements’ peaceful struggle,

LIVES: In the eco-village on Orust, and three months a year in a cohousing community in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA.

FAVOURITE FOOD: Indian food in India. BEST/WORST SIDE: Stubbornness/optimism that I believe I have enough time to do what I need to do. OTHER INTERESTS: Gardening, light jogging, films, novels.

where a combination of strikes, blockades and a clear willingness to compromise created success. Today, it seems the Swedes believe that it is sufficient to present a good argument, but in my view, fundamental change requires that we dare to take personal risks.”


Tip: Take a look at the GU Journal’s web TV feature (in Swedish): http://youtube/ ESBzEp0H3Lc or use: QR-code below.

R I G H T N OW , Stellan Vinthagen is looking forward to this spring’s upcoming trips, especially to the United States. But when we go out to the chilly air, from the yard he points out over the lake. Through the grey haze we can catch a glimpse of a small building standing on the waterfront. “At the dock over there, we see the eco-village’s wood-fired sauna. Sure, it is interesting to visit foreign countries. But the first thing I crave when I arrive home from a long distance journey, it’s over there, to a lovely hot bath in the sauna.”



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Reflections of a future digital geoscape

as it seems, like little children given new toys to play with and boxes to unwrap at Christmas. We look at the advancements of technology as a child would look at the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree, a little bewildered, a lot impressed and even inspired. It’s a different kind of life that Internet interconnectivity affords, with the conveniences of apps downloaded. Yet, do we not give up too much of our lives and our selves in exchange for technological conveniences? When the mind you have is no longer yours. Part of what makes us unquestioningly adopt integrity invading ICTs is that it helps us solve problems cost-effectively. If for example, going to the library to borrow books two decades ago was a chore, where you had to not only find the time to W E A R E A LL


CO M M O N B E T W E E N Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 Modern Times, and George Orwell’s novel 1984 is the one seeing eye – The Gaze. Orwell’s gaze was explicitly more terrifying than Chaplin’s in terms of context of manifestation and intent of purpose. But since the early 1900s, inherent in the world structures of today set in the third wave of industrialisation and enabled via the marching advancement in digital technology is The Gaze. Although this time around, many are unaware of it. And if they are aware of being constantly under surveillance with little individual privacy, many do not seem to mind. We are even happy to contribute to efforts towards a more transparent society in belief that it will render more stable, egalitarian societies. What we celebrate above and beyond our privacy, are the advancements in technology and the conveniences or pleasures derived from its use. Even software engineers who develop computer systems are awed at the pace at which information communication technologies (ICT) have developed in the past few decades. In an open dialogue session with an East Asian global service provider in November of 2014, the software engineers had as goal, to construct a national level ‘super pipeline of interconnectivity’.

visit the library, then finger through drawers of library cards to retrieve the information you want, the Internet of today with books downloaded at a click is sheer heaven. B U T I F I C T is an outsourcing resource of problem solving, there is also in the long-term dialogic process between human and computer aides that snuffs out and dampens the human mind in a slow killing of the human explorer and learner in you. You show the computer what your preferences are, and they in turn define and confine your life in ever neater boxes, fed back to you in the form of targeted advertisements of interest to you, products that you have bought and will buy again in future, subjects of interest that you have viewed and will view again in future. The trajectory of which is that we will each begin to live increasingly in individualized, customized virtual worlds. What you see will not be what another sees. Currently, half the world is fighting for doing things their own way. How does an increasingly fragmented individual world perspective due to customized virtual worlds add to this global social fabric? So it seems that we outsource ever more of our problem solving capacity to artificial intelligence (AI), whilst at the same time, we disconnect from the natural environment around us.

»But there exists a parallel in today’s digital geoscape where it is not land that is stolen but people’s privacy and their individual space.«

We are living in an era of ‘digital feudalism’. Alongside this pessimistic view of that we allow the pruning of our synapses by AI, is how the digital world is currently organized and managed. There exists in virtual geoscape, a current model of ‘digital feudalism’ by a handful of global multinational ICT companies characterised by digital land grab. I N T H E FEU DA L system, you had one person of power who took over the lands of others, land that was not initially marked by anyone. The land was then parcelled out, people were made to work on the land, to view this as an act of benevolence from the ruling power, in addition, they were to pay tax for the possibility of working on the land that in the first place, was unmarked. This description might be too simply put. But there exists a parallel in today’s digital geoscape where it is not land that is stolen but people’s privacy and their individual space in exchange for digital services rendered. What once we could call ours – our thoughts, ideas, and individual personalities – are siphoned from us by digitized platforms of service providers, who profit from them, giving us in return under veil, the concept of ”social connectivity”.

If economy is to continue churning, there is no such thing as ’free’. Currency of some form needs to be paid, else the economic model begins to implode, until a new system of accounting takes over. With increasing automation of even the services industry, ‘services’ being the one emerging industry that gives hope for jobs for people in the future, the trend seems suddenly reversed. There will be no new jobs for human kind. What then can people sell? How can we earn our keep in future?

If people began to see instead that it is WE (now defined as the users of ICTs) who provide services for the digital feudal lords by giving up our very integrity and personal privacy, and begin to charge the companies for using our data for their profits, then things might look very different. Reality TV-series are all the rage today. In this, The Kardashians had it right. Their show is entitled ”Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, and the world watches them in awe and in revel, without first understanding that unlike most of the rest of us on reality TV (we are all gazed upon by the digital feudal lords whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not), the Kardashians CHARGE for the giving up of their privacy. W H I LE W E K E E P up with the Kardashians with every episode aired, we have not caught up with the Kardashians’ understanding of privacy as a personal business model. Right now, too many people give up too much of their own intellect, individual integrity and personal privacy for free. And the few megadigital organizations that land grab broadly echo Thomas Piketty’s ideas from his book, Capital in the TwentyFirst Century, of an imploding socioeconomic model of the third wave of industrialisation currently unfolding in the digital geoscape.





New research vessel welded together What just a few weeks ago was a huge amount of scattered steel sheets, today forms the outline of a ship. And it is at a historic site in Poland where the University of Gothenburg’s new research vessel is now taking shape. u

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H E S I LH O U E T T E of the bow of the new research vessel, Skagerak, is silhouetted against the grey wintry sky. Among the gigantic lifting cranes and scaffolding at the Nauta Ship Repair Yard in Gdańsk, shipyard workers labour to hoist up the bow in the sky, and then slowly put it down on a truck. The wind is chilly and the air full of moisture. Snow and ice covers the ground. We hold on as the wind presses against us. It squeaks and whistles. This is a working environment with extreme noise levels. It is a special occasion because the coin ceremony for the new research vessel Skagerak is soon to take place. Marine chemist and professor Katarina Abrahamsson is one of the staff from the University of Gothenburg who are on site at the shipyard. And she is pleased that the new research vessel will soon be ready to be put into use.

»It is made for all types of marine research and will also be an important part of the students’ educational programme.« KATARINA ABRAHAMSSON behind the truck, puts the weld in a ship plate. It is somewhat difficult to get hold of skilled welders in Poland as most are working in Norway. Instead, the shipyards are forced to rely on North Korean welders who come to Poland as guest workers, explains Kjell Johansson, the university’s quality assurance inspector who is on-site. He emphasises that North Korea is a shipbuilding nation and has highly skilled welders. Kjell Johansson guides us around the shipyard area and points out the way to the shipyard hall where the coins laying ceremony is to take place shortly. is to keep my eyes and ears open and make sure everything is performed properly according to the descriptions that the project management team has provided,” he explains. 2013 was the year that the University of Gothenburg ordered a new ship for education and research. Skagerak will be 45 meters long and have a weight of about 900 tons. The ship will replace the 45-year-old research vessel of the same name and has high environmental standards. Environmental Coordinator Ullika Lundgren has been involved with the process for nearly two years now. “Keep in mind that the university has a certified environmental management system which includes virtually everything we do. When we started planning for the research ship there was no question about that it also had to be an environmentally “ M Y TA S K H E R E

have a modern research vessel where we can research issues that are relevant today and tomorrow. This is also an important platform provide proper training to the students, who will be taking over eventually,” says Katarina Abrahamsson. We stand on historic grounds. It was here that the shipyard worker, electrician, and later president of Poland, Lech Walesa, founded the Solidarity trade union in 1980. At the time, 20,000 shipyard workers laboured in what was then called the Lenin Shipyard. Today, several shipyards share the space at the area and today the total number of workers are only a small fraction of the number who worked at the Lenin Shipyard during the eighties. A light surprises. A barrage of sparks crackle and light up when a welder, right “AT L A ST W E W I LL

safe procurement with environmental requirements and standards being established as part of the construction process,” explains Ullika Lundgren, who is the Environmental Coordinator at the Faculty of Science. The Swedish Public Procurement Act means that no requirements that discriminates may be imposed, nor any specifications or requirements that only Swedish companies would be able to satisfy. “As might be expected ,we quite naturally had a long list of requirements, partly concerning how the supplier would work and meet the environmental requirements, and partly concerning price and quality. I was there when the bids arrived, they were perhaps a dozen, some were dismissed immediately. But three or four of the bidders had exactly what we were looking for, in compliance with our ISO 14001environmental certification that the University of Gothenburg holds,” reports Ullika Lundgren. Ultimately, the Polish shipyard Nauta Ship Repair was selected. And it is in Nauta’s shipyard hall that the ceremonious coin ceremony will now be held. Representatives from GU’s vessels group are on site, as well as the shipyard’s senior management. All are well wrapped up in coats and hats, and protected by helmets. Michael Klages, who is the Director of the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, holds up a velvet-clad box where a silver and a gold coloured coin gleams. for the University of Gothenburg. All the planning and meetings and discussions have now resulted in a


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research vessel that will soon be ready to be put into service, and that will give us good research opportunities for the future,” declares Michael Klages. The coin laying is a ceremony from the days of sailing ships when they put a gold coin under the mast foot. This was expected to bring good fortune and success to the ship. The project manager for the new research vessel is Anders Backman. He has extensive experience in shipbuilding and has been a captain of the icebreaker Oden among other ships. “We have chosen two coins: one that is in memory of Solidarity, the trade union which was formed on this very spot where we stand right now. And from the Swedish side, it is a two-krona coin in silver from 1968, the year the old Skagerak was delivered to the University of Gothenburg.” M I C H A E L K L AG E S makes his way through the cluster of listeners, and between Polish and Swedish flags, to perform the coins laying ceremony. He gives a short speech and then gently hits the two coins together in the glow of the lightbulb flashes from the cameras of the local journalists. The research vessel is far ahead in terms of technology. The new Skagerak will provide opportunities not previously available in marine research. “The two things that especially distinguish the ship above all its characteristics are the technical developments in regards to the hydro-acoustics and the ability to work from the ship with underwater craft of various kinds. New technologies will provide the researchers with possibilities for research that have not been possible to do previously,” explains project manager Anders Backman. In order ensure the compliance with the environmental demands and other requi-

rements with the building of the ship, the project team drew up extensive technical specifications consisting of over 200 pages. Among other things, it includes a proviso concerning all scientific equipment and how everything must be dimensioned. “It’s essentially important to have such comprehensive specifications when the shipbuilder is trying to cut costs or when the shipyard hires sub-contractors. There must be an environment specification that says what our requirements are,” says Environmental Coordinator Ullika Lundgren. For example, in the specification it states eleven different materials that may not be used, such as brominated flame-retardants. “That certain substances may not be used is obvious to us in Sweden, but this is an international procurement so it must be made clear. Each and every substance that is built into the boat must be registered, so that when the boat is disassembled it is known what it contains,” explains Ullika Lundgren. Over the past two years, she has been in contact with a good number of experts. One requirement from the project team has been that the piping system on the boat for water must have biological treatment, but such systems exist only for ships of Stena Line’s size, so the shipbuilder proposed chemical treatment instead. “This was not acceptable to our scientific expert, Katarina Abrahamsson. Only when the yard came up with another suggestion for a purification system that could not interfere with sensitive sampling, did she give her okay,” explains Ullika Lundgren. A N OT H E R D I S C U S S I O N concerned the refrigerants for air conditioning. There are a variety of refrigerants that are either in the process of being phased out or that must be used with great caution. “We do not want to build something that

The first parts of the ship are welded together. All environmental and other requirements must follow a technical specification of 200 pages. The bow is put into place. Michael Klages (right) holds up a box with Polish and Swedish coins for the ceremony. It was at the Lenin Shipyard, where Nauta Ship Repair now is situated, that the union Solidarity was formed in 1980.

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will soon become obsolete for us, but rather in terms of environmental considerations, we want it to remain at the forefront of what might be demanded in the future.” During the process, Ullika Lundgren had to deal with a variety of governmental agencies, for example, SIK, SP, the Swedish Chemicals Agency and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency. “We worked at finding relevant experts when we received questions from the shipyard, but it takes time to investigate what is reasonable. Our naval architect, Jan Bergholtz, knows all the legislation on his ten fingers along with emission levels and similar matters that are regulated,” observes Ullika Lundgren. Project manager Anders Backman is pleased so far with the shipyard’s work. “The work to comply with the stringent environmental requirements has actually not been all that difficult, as the ambition on the yard’s side has been the same.” It is expected that sometime in the autumn the construction will be completed. Then we will be awaiting the voyage to the port of Gothenburg and a royal inauguration with pomp and circumstance. Katarina Abrahamsson is anxiously looking forward to the day when the university’s marine scientists will be able to put the ship into service. “This will be the University of Gothenburg’s new marine laboratory. It is made for all types of marine research and will also become an important part of the students’ educational programme.” Administrator Michael Klages stresses the amount of environmental challenges that lie ahead, not least in terms of climate change. “Therefore, there is a great need for this new research ship!” TEXT: CARINA ELIASSON PHOTO: JOHAN WINGBORG



Translation feat completed Scandinavia’s only original contribution to world literature, they have been called – the stories of family feuds, ambushes, honour killings and adventure in a distant land, all known under the collective name of the Sagas of Icelanders. Now that one of the largest translation projects the world has ever seen has recently been completed, they are accessible in the Swedish, Danish and Norwegian languages. U T H O R A N D literary scholar Gunnar D. Hansson and retired lecturer in Icelandic Kristinn Jóhannsson, together with Karl G. Johansson at the University of Oslo, have been editors of this mammoth project where 24 translators translated 40 saga stories and 49 tåtar (short tales) to Swedish. The work took seven years to complete, of which the last five have been really intense, and the result is a 5.6 kg set of books. The closest thing that comes to mind when it comes to translation feats is new translation of the Bible in 2000.

publication. In 1997, he published the tales in English, which created a huge commotion in the Anglo-Saxon world; they were described as a medieval treasure without parallel in world literature, as novels written 500 years before the novel’s breakthrough in the 1800s, and Clint Eastwood and Ridley Scott among others, noted out that the tales represent excellent material for future films or computer games..

fact some similarities,” admits Kristinn Jóhannsson. “In both cases, the intention was to translate ancient texts from different authors with different styles, where some stories are well-known from previous translations, which one therefore has to consider. But the Sagas of Icelanders are actually more extensive than even the Bible.” It’s the little Icelandic one-man company Saga Forlag which is responsible for the

“And certainly they are cinematic!” explains Gunnar D. Hansson. “They contain no introspective psychology, but rather it is what people say and do that is important. The style of storytelling reminds me a bit of how Hemingway explained that only the tip of the iceberg should show. The rest is left for the reader to figure out for themselves.” The project to translate the tales also to the Scandinavian languages was about to


come to nothing due to the Icelandic financial crisis in 2008. But several financiers of the project lined up; for the Swedish edition, it was the Torsten Söderberg Foundation, who gave the project its largest grant ever in the humanities. B U T W H Y N OT be content with having it translated into only one of the Scandinavian languages? “The idea is to make the tales accessible to anyone and everyone,” explains Kristinn Jóhannsson. “Your teens, who already secretly read fantasy books, should instead be able to go directly to the true sources. For these are not highfalutin stories of brushy prose but rather living literature,

»The idea is to make the tales accessible to anyone and everyone.« KRISTINN JÓHANNESSON actually the first books I myself read as a child. The language is clear and effective – it came to save on calf skin – and the plot dramatic. Therefore, we have been careful to use a modern language and clean out formulations that may feel strange today. We have however been restrictive with our use of loan words, as the stories should feel Nordic. For instance, even though there are many court trials in the texts, we do not use

GUJOURNAL 1 | 2015


From Njáls Saga:

the term legal proceedings.” The translators have also retained Icelandic forms for names, both of people and places. “Anyone who travels to Iceland should be able to take out their GPS to find all the places where the tales take place,” says Kristinn Jóhannsson. “The exception are names that have such a strong position in the Swedish language that it would be confusing to use the Icelandic formulation, such as Harald Hårfager or the names of the gods Tor and Oden.” In order not to interfere with the flow of reading, the texts do not have footnotes. Instead, there are explanations of various types, plus maps and more, in the fifth volume. T H E SW E D I S H V E R S I O N is the most modern of the three translations, explains Gunnar D. Hansson. “There are significant differences in the Saga tradition between Sweden, Norway and Denmark. In Norway for instance, half of the works have been translated into Bokmål (Dano-Norwegian) and the other half into New Norwegian, and a debate has arisen concerning how ‘old sounding’ the new Norwegian should be in order to fit in an Icelandic context. In Sweden, we must take into account the formation degradation that occurred here; we cannot assume that people really know the tales particularly well.” Most of the twenty-four translators who have been involved in the Swedish project are former students of Kristinn Jóhannsson and participants in the interdisciplinary saga seminars that take place at the Faculty of Arts every other Friday. “The reason we have not made use of only well-known names, but also doctoral students and seminar participants is that we want to cultivate new translators. And the young people have done an exceptionally good job here, even though we have been strict teachers and readers.” In order to truly find the proper natural tone, Kristinn Jóhannsson and Gunnar D. Hansson read all the translations aloud to each other. They also hired a highly skilled external reader: Erik Andersson, known for his translations of other great works such as Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and Joyce’s Ulysses. O N E T H I N G T H AT has been particularly difficult was to translate the poems found in many of the tales. “The poems are reminiscent of mysteries and riddles, hidden from those who do not understand the ingenious design,” explains Gunnar D. Hansson. “Because they are impossible to translate in all their complexity, we have concentrated on the content. But in order for the reader to nevertheless get a feel for the kennings, rhyme and rhythm, in the Swedish edition we have also reproduced the poems in Icelandic, alongside the translations. This is not the case however in the Norwegian and Danish editions.” Several verses are not derived from

“Do you know how you will die?,” asked Gunnar. “I know,” said Njal. “How?” asked Gunnar. “In a way that everyone least expects,” said Njal. He said to Hallgerð: “Give me two strands of your hair and twist with them mother’s help together into a bowstring.” “Does that mean anything to you?” she asked. “It means my life,” he said, “for they can never defeat me as long as I can use the bow.” “Then I will now,” she said, “remember the box on the ear you gave me. It does not touch me if you defend yourself longer or shorter time.”

the poetic hero himself, but rather from his opponents in something like a poetic struggle. Poets butting against each other in a way that perhaps is reminiscent of today’s American youth who engage in rap battle. “The poem was the media of that time for the general public, it was how one was remembered, mourned and found out about the destinies of men,” explains Gunnar D. Hansson. “Think for yourself how convenient it would be if, after each meeting at work, there was a poet who read a little poem in eight verses as a summary, as in a concentrate with all material facts!” A PI VOTA L M O M E N T in many sagas is the poet’s meeting with the king, who either receives the poem well or not so well, explains Gunnar D. Hansson. “For the launch of the books, the Icelandic poet Thórarinn Eldjárn constructed a poetic song first for the Danish Queen Margrethe II, later the Norwegian King Harald and ultimately for our King Carl Gustaf. Previously, a displeasing poet risked execution. That no such thing happened this time, Thórarinn commented that “either the quality standards have been lowered or the working conditions have improved. Maybe both.” The Sagas of Icelanders also contain poems from perhaps the world’s first investigative journalist, Hallfreð Óttarsson. When he would write about the fallen Olav Tryggvason, he was content not to rely on hearsay. Instead, he travelled to Norway to personally speak with those who survived the Battle of Svolder. TH E SAG A S O F I C E L A N D E R S are about an upheaval in Nordic history, between the lineage society and a new Christian way of life, emphasises Kristinn Jóhannesson. “The Saga of Gísli describes how a man, being forced to perform a homicide, becomes an outlaw, and has to spend several years in various remote hiding places. It is also about travel and maritime shipping, about how to behave in a strange land, gaining confidence and being forced to replant oneself in a new context. Njáls Saga, which is best known of all, is about how to get away from the cycle of violence in a culture that is guided by honour killings and revenge, to learn to turn the other cheek. In both cases, the tales contain topics that remain quite relevant today.”


From Laxdæla Saga:

“I comprehend very well,” said Bol�li, “what you say about how the nature of each of your husbands was constituted, but you still have not said which one you loved most. You no longer need to keep it a secret.” “You push me hard, my son,” said Guðrún, “but if I must say it to someone, better I say it to you.” Bolli asked her to say it. Then answered Guðrún: “I was the worst against him that I loved the most.” “Now I think you said who it was,” said Bolli and thanked her for having responded to the question he was wondering about.

Kristinn Jóhannesson and Gunnar D Hansson have been editors for the Swedish version of the sagas, together with. Karl G Johansson (not in the picture).

FACTS/THE SAGAS OF IC EL ANDERS The forty sagas that are collectively known as the Sagas of Icelanders deal, along with the forty-nine tåtar or short tales, with people and events in Iceland and the Nordic region during the Viking Age. The stories are considered to have been preserved in oral form since the 9th and 10th centuries, but were compiled by anonymous writers during the 13th and 14th centuries. The sagas are now available in a new translation into Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. The Editors of the Swedish edition are Gunnar D. Hansson, Kristinn Jóhannsson and Karl G. Johansson. Twenty-four translators, the majority with links to the University of Gothenburg, have participated in the project. The books are in five volumes, and all together weigh 5.6 kg. The sagas are sometimes described, along with the Japanese The Tale of Genji, as the world’s first novels.


New measuring buoys saves trips Small, cheap data collecting buoys can replace a large number of today’s costly trips to Antarctica. Anna Wåhlin, an oceanographer at the Department of Earth Sciences, has received a grant of SEK 200,000 from the Climate Fund to develop new technologies that could ultimately provide answers to how the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet affects the Earth’s climate. T H I S PROJ EC T was the one that received the most money from GU’s newly established Climate Fund and the Department of Earth Sciences is injecting an additional SEK 114,000. In a research context, this may not be such a large sum of money, but Anna Wåhlin points out that it is almost impossible to get money for technology development. “The Climate Fund awarding of the grant could not have come at a better time. It’s really great for the research that there are other types of financing. In addition, there is a ‘climate-profit’ to be gained here, so it is a great step forward for this research.” Anna Wåhlin is a part of the international research team that is conducting a large-scale data collection and measurement project in Antarctica. In the area, there are currently three data collecting rigs placed on the seabed that measure the temperature, current velocity or rate of flow, salinity and pressure at different depths. But the catch is that you have to travel there with heavy research icebreakers in order to retrieve the data.

are incredibly expensive. The operating costs for the vessel is about half a million Swedish kronor per day. Since you are out for at least six weeks gathering data, anyone can figure out that it is unsustainable. The problem is also that you can not get a time series longer than three years. With the new technology we are developing in conjunction with the University of Rhode Island, we can obtain a time series of 10 years.” By placing “ T H E E X PE D ITI O N S

»To understand how the Earth works, we need to understand how Antarctica works.«

Professor Anna Wåhlin measures ice in Antarctica.

data collecting buoys equipped with technology for autonomous satellite transmissions, this will mean reducing the need by at least half of the trips to Antarctica. However there is not only a savings gain here, but also a climate-profit. “The big ships use a tremendous amount of diesel fuel in order break the ice. We estimate the total reduction to be at 63 tons of carbon dioxide over a six year period. Thus we see a great climate profit, but I don’t want the focus to be distracted from the fact that what we are doing here is something that is really needed for the research.” T H E T EC H N O LO GY is well advanced, says Anna Wåhlin, even if it must be tested before it is ready for production. There are many advantages compared to the current stationary data collecting rigs. “The buoy can be thrown in from a fishing or transportation ship that is already passing through the area. They sink down to the bottom where among other things they measure the temperature every hour for six years. At a predetermined time, it drops its anchor and floats up to the surface, where it

seeks contact with a communications satellite. It is also equipped with a smart feature that allows it to fall into dormancy if it happens to fall under the sea ice and cannot send data to the satellites. It tries again when the ice melts or it drifts into an ice-free area. This can take several years.” The long-term plan is to purchase some 50 data collecting buoys to be deployed in the Amundsen Sea, an area that is as large as Europe. mapped out this area quite well, and what is missing is long time series. In order to understand how the Earth works, we need to understand how Antarctica works. A large part of the Earth’s fresh water is stored in the ice sheet and when it melts, it affects the Earth’s climate systems. We are now able to learn much more than what hitherto has been possible,” observes Anna Wåhlin, who will be traveling to Greenland in the summer in order to test out the new data collecting buoys. “ W E H AV E


Profile for University of Gothenburg


The abridged version of the University of Gothenburg staff magazine, GU Journal. Issue no 1 Febuary–March 2015.


The abridged version of the University of Gothenburg staff magazine, GU Journal. Issue no 1 Febuary–March 2015.