no 2 | april 2014
Swedish companies lead the way Anna Jonsson believes that universities can learn from top companies Negative Pause
increasingly in english
they fled a country at war
Hidden patterns favour males
Marginalised Swedish debate
Syrian research couple finds refuge at GU
A magazine for staff at the Universit y of Gothenburg
Research and education must be linked together
April 2014 E ditor - in C hief and P u b lisher
Allan Eriksson 031 - 786 10 21 firstname.lastname@example.org E ditor and V ice P u b lisher
SW E D E N ’ S U N I V E R S ITI E S and other institutions of higher education have the mission and responsibility to conduct research and education. The educational programs must have their foundation in the arts or sciences, and there must be a close relationship between research and the educational programs. So says the Swedish Higher Education Act, and that is how we express it in our vision. That higher education should be associated with research is all about giving our students a superior education in qualitative terms which also encourages creativity and critical thinking. This forms the foundation for the overall general needs of the society for practical skills and long-term sustainable development. But the reality is that putting this into practice, where a connection with research is an accomplished fact, is not always so easy to achieve. One significant reason is the higher education system’s qualification pathways for teachers. It is the achievements in research which dominate in the appointments to professorships. It is therefore natural that for the individual researcher, there is a strong incentive to devote as much time as possible to research, in order to gain recognition for themselves and to make an impact in the competition for external research funding. Since it is the responsibility of teachers in universities and other institutions of higher education to both conduct research and to engage in teaching for the educational program, this is a problem. T H E C U R R E N T C R IT E R I A for the acquisition of qualifications has led to a situation where in Sweden today people can “buy themselves out of” of teaching. It sends further signals that the educational program is valued less than research, and nothing that necessarily benefits one’s personal career. Here Sweden differs from other countries, such as the United States for instance, where university teachers see it as a self-evident given that they will participate in teaching and the educational program at all levels. I recently visited Boston in order to study the city’s life sciences clusters and was able to witness first-hand how important the students and the education is considered to be for the work of the academic institution. All researchers at the research institutes I visited had their primary employment based at a university and they taught at all levels.
Eva Lundgren 031 - 786 10 81 email@example.com P hotograph y and R eproduction
Johan Wingborg 031 - 786 29 29 firstname.lastname@example.org G raphic F orm and L ayout
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Debbie Axlid and Charles Phillips address
photo: Johan Wingborg
GU Journal University of Gothenburg Box 100, 405 30 Gothenburg
The situation in Sweden where the universities and other schools have their governmental funds divided up into two grants with separate reporting requirements – one for research and a separate one for educational programs – makes it difficult for research and teaching to be done in close coordination. From the higher education sector, we have therefore indicated an interest to the Government that the current artificial division be done away with. We propose instead a unified allocation or at least that under the current principles of two separate appropriations it is allowed over time that substantial shifts occur in one direction or the other depending upon the current needs that arise. This would place us in a better position to be able to finance, and in this way assume the responsibility for higher education on a scientific basis. I A M LO O K I N G FO RWA R D to the situation where the Government fulfils its responsibility ensuring that higher education will be based on scientific or artistic grounds, and reforms the divided allocation of governmental resources into one single unified funding. That research and higher education must go hand in hand is not just a quality issue for each individual university or other institution of higher education. It’s all about Sweden’s ability to compete on the world stage in terms of knowledge and expertise.
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April 25, 2014 M aterial
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Anna Jonsson Photography: Johan Wingborg
GUJOURNAL 2 | 2014
From the Vice-chancellor
2 Allocate the resources! news
4 The men have understood how to make career. 6 An increasing number of dissertations are written in English but what are the consequences? PROFILE
10 Anna Jonsson thinks that universities have much to learn from world-leading Swedish companies.
Take better care
13 GU reaches its environmental targets but many are still flying to Stockholm. 13 Sweden is best in class.
Universities can do a better job with taking care of their young scientists.
Refuge at GU They mourn an irreplaceable cultural heritage.
Conversation 14 Creativity is not as mysterious as many
think, according to psychologist Sven Hemlin. news report
16 From war-torn Aleppo to calm Gothenburg My research 19 Sam Dupont about the best profession in the world.
Not worried about Globish Rhonwen Bowen teaches academic English.
Editorial office: International protests against closure I N T H E PR E V I O U S I S S U E we wrote that the Göteborg Organ Art Center, GOArt, is facing the risk of being shut down as the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts will cease its strategic support starting in 2015. In addition, we also had an article about GU’s record surplus in its educational program and research. The reader could perhaps arrive at the impression that we in at the editors’ desk had a hidden agenda. We did not. Of course it is not so simple that there is a large amount of funds available for distribution. But our impression is that GOArt is the victim of a systemic flaw, and that
it is not reasonable that a faculty with a small amount of research funds would be expected to bear the entire cost of an internationally prominent center that has placed GU on the world map. N OW T H E PROT E ST S B EG I N to come in. Recently a letter was received, signed by 127 international organists and scholars, addressed to the ViceChancellor and the Chairperson of the University Board. In the letter, Kerala J. Snyder, Professor Emerita of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music in New York, and honorary doctorate from the University of
Gothenburg, describes how shocked she was to hear the news that the University of Gothenburg is planning to close down GOArt, the world’s only international research center for interdisciplinary studies of the organ. Even the pope is upset. Maybe not him personally, but the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music (Pontificio instituto ambrosiano di musica sacra), located in Milan, has made been heard from. They have just started a new educational project in organ technology and had hoped for a partnership with GOArt. Now they have received the disappointing news that the center is
threatened with closure. Also in this edition, we’ve included two opinion pieces received from readers concerning GOArt’s future. In this issue we call special attention to the language of the dissertation. We have gone through all dissertations in recent years, and the trend of more and more English continues, but there are large differences between the various disciplines. But if the Anglo-Saxon dominance increases, how does it affect our world view and the Swedish debate?
Action man – the ideal researcher Despite that men in general in the fields of biology and environmental science take as much parental leave as women, this does not mean that they lose momentum. On the contrary actually. The explanation? A new study reveals the hidden cultural patterns, something that one can actually do something about, in the view of Head of Department Ingela Dahllöf and psychologist Olle Persson. I N R EC E N T Y E A R S several studies have been published confirming that men publish more than women, primarily in the fields of the natural sciences and medicine. When the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences examined whether there was any difference between young postdoctoral men and women, what they found was that the men published 3.5 times more articles than the women. “There is a big difference between how much younger men and women publish, but if
it is a true reflection of gender differences for researchers in the younger part of their career, then we have a serious problem to deal with,” comments Ingela Dahllöf who is the Head of Department and Chairperson of the institution’s gender equality group.” Then the gender equality group went a bit further conducting a larger study: Publicering och kön – jämlikhet i den akademiska karriären [Publishing and Gender: gender equality in the academic career], where
three institutions were selected, in addition to biology and environmental science, also to dental studies, and to nutrition and sports science. In November, an online survey was distributed to all postdoctoral personnel at the three institutions. The greatest response rate was in biology and environmental science, where 7 out of 10 responded to the survey. “What we wanted to find out was if it was an interruption in early career that slowed women down, or if it is due to that women have more responsibilities and things to do that aren’t related to research. We also wanted to verify the results of the first survey and if we found the same results to try digging into the causes. But also, to see what we might be able do to rectify the problem.”
The results show that men in the fields of biology and dentistry publish more frequently than women. Men generally have a higher academic title, and to a greater extent women have had woman mentors. The survey also looked at the situation in the early stages of one’s career, which was defined as an academic time shorter than 12 years. It is particularly clear within the fields of biology and environmental science that men with a lower academic age are publishing significantly more than women in the same academic age. later in their career, but it is devastating if so many, for whatever the reason, are screened out and do not get a chance to progress further,” says Ingela Dahllöf.
“ WO M E N R E T U R N
GUJOURNAL 2 | 2014
»The men quickly get the hang of it; they know what it takes to succeed.« OLLE PERSSON
Not surprisingly, the various different types of interruptions, such as parental leave and illness, have a detrimental impact upon one’s career. But despite the fact that men and women in biology and environmental science take parental leave at similar rates (though men are out for shorter periods), it does not seem to place an obstacle in the way of the men’s careers. Younger men are more active and more involved at all levels. They supervise more PhD students, are more involved in publications, are participating in more conferences, and are more often sitting on scientific committees or bodies. “This is consistent with past experience, that interruptions for various different reasons makes one lose momentum,” comments psychologist Olle Persson, who helped to formulate the survey and analyse the material. TO B E AC TI V E pays off. To teach, conduct research, publish in high-ranking academic journals, sit in various academic forums or evaluation panels of research councils. All activity seems to add up and displays itself in a higher
level of publishing. The men quickly get the hang of it; they know what it takes to succeed. They put their front feet first.” Another conclusion is that the particular gender of the graduate student’s supervisor’s plays a roll and makes a difference. “Men are skilled at mentoring men, but obviously not as good at mentoring women. From the survey, we can see that both men and women who have had female postgraduate supervisors produce less, even if the survey sample is quite small in this particular group,” observes Ingela Dahllöf. But, that teaching would be bad for one’s career - there is no evidence that shows this. “This is not indicated in our inquiry,” Ingela continues. “Men teach somewhat more than women and this gives them an advantage, even though it is not as important as being a postgraduate supervisor or siting on various scientific bodies.” Ingela Dahllöf thinks it is due to hidden behaviours and cultural patterns, which is also confirmed by the report Jämställda fakulteter? [Are faculties and institutions gender neutral?] which received considerable attention when it came out in 2012. This particular study also showed that women have a different role at work already from an early academic age. But it is a problem only within the natural sciences? “It’s possible, but we simply don’t know. When we presented the results to our staff, many men took it badly and wondered what they were doing wrong. But how does one change hidden cultural patterns which one is without doubt completely unconscious of? This applies to both men and women. We do not feel that there are problems with sexism or gender discrimination in our institution. I have no out of the box standard solutions, but I think we have to conduct
academic supervising, mentoring and coaching in a more professional manner and as well raise awareness among both young and senior researchers. What kind of scientific education are we providing and how do we treat young researchers? How do we create a good career for any young researcher?” T H E D E PA R T M E N T I S now working on developing an action plan. One practical measure is to provide extra time in order to be able to get started again after a long absence. Ingela Dahllöf also wants to go one step further and apply for money in order to make a larger comparative study together with gender studies researchers, psychologists and sociologists. “It is difficult to find solutions on their own. One way is to show good examples that surely exist elsewhere and then learn from what works and take advantage of that. But it is equally important to talk about it, and that as a manager or other person in a position of responsibility to direct a focus on the issues.” From the Sahlgrenska Academy’s Institute of Odontology, there were fewer respondents: 53 percent. “The men generally publish more. Among women, the frequency publication is quite similar irrespective of academic age. The men have more academic assignments, to a greater extent have had male postgraduate supervisors, and are very often the primary or co-supervisor for PhD students,” observes the head of department, Annika Ekestubbe. B E I N G A M E N TO R for graduate students seems to have a positive impact on one’s career, remarks Annika. “To provide young women greater opportunities to be a tutor would likely have a positive impact on the degree or frequency of publishing and other academic qualifications.” Olle Persson would like to try out the idea of organising a joint training programme for postgraduate supervisors of graduate students from various different disciplines and faculties. “Here, everyone would be able to problematise how one looks at the profession and what responsibilities one has as a postgraduate supervisor to socialise their doctoral students in this profession. Then one might be
able to capture the cultural patterns and norms that exist in the various different environments and that may affect the scholarly production.”
AT THE DEPARTMENT OF FOOD AND NUTRITION, AND SPORT SCIENCE the response rate to the questionnaire was a low 30 percent. There is nothing in the material to suggest that educators have similar problems. Olle Persson points out that the difference in frequency of publication between men and women with a low academic age need not necessarily be a gender issue. “The difference can not be explained only by suggesting it is due to systematic discrimination. For why else would men and women with a high academic age be equally as productive if it were the case that women are systematically subjected to worse preconditions than men? One thought that should be examined more closely, and in a larger study, is if something happens in the beginning of one’s academic career that differs between men and women. I think that there may be different perceptions of the profession. We may be onto something here,” thinks Olle Persson. Allan Eriksson
Facts The survey Publicering och kön – jämlikhet i den akademiska karriären (Publishing and gender-equality in academic careers) was developed by a project team within the framework of the CUP leadership program. This included Annika Ekestubbe from the Institute of Odontology, Catharina Tillman from the School of Business, Economics and Law, Ingela Dahllöf from the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, and Peter Korp from the Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science. The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences: 224 employees. Distribution of professors between women/men: 10/24, Graduate students: 44/45. Institute of Odontology: 120 employees. Distribution of professors between
women/men: 2/11; Graduate students: 47/27. Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science: 63 employees. Distribution of professors between women/men: 1/0; Graduate students: 9/5. The project team also has some recommendations for the university administration: • Phase out the female professor program and instead, devote resources towards long-term career development. • Proceed with a more comprehensive study, including in-depth interviews. Find some good examples. • Continue to improve the mentoring/tutoring for graduate students. • Develop a consensus concerning leadership within research which is based on the same set of values.
Over the past 8 years the proportion of doctorial dissertations at GU written in English has averaged about 74 percent. However, there are significant differences between the faculties. The Faculty of Science tops the list, at 99 percent; closely followed by the Sahlgrenska Academy with 96 percent of its dissertations being written in English. Others are catching up, our investigation has found, as English gains ground in other academic fields. Il l u s
English – threat or blessing? English has long been the preferred language within the natural sciences. But in recent years, English has become increasingly common also in the social sciences. Last year, for example, 83 percent of all doctorial dissertations at the Faculty of Social Sciences were in English. At the School of Business, Economics and Law, the figure was 68 percent. Vice Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, sees several problems with this development. “One risk is domain losses, in other words we lose the ability to conceptualise social change in our own language, which can lead to a situation where relevant research disappears from public discourse in Sweden.” Another consequence that can arise is that the issues specific to Sweden or Norden get sidelined as more and more research is published in Anglo-Saxon journals. “I often make a comparison with the farming community where people could let their cows graze in fringe pasturelands that did not belong to anyone in particular and which was productive borderland between the wild and the cultivated. But outlying fringe land can also be described as peripheral, which is only allowed to MARIE DEMKER,
exist for the benefit of the centre.” Within several fields in the social sciences, such as political science, the United States is in the centre and the rest of the world, on the fringes, observes Marie Demker. “There is a risk that one might indeed be researching about Europe, but from an American perspective. What does this mean for European self-understanding?” A N D I N A N A M E R I C A N context, the Nordic region is perceived as a homogeneous region with a common, or at least very similar, culture and history. “The differences that of course exist between the Nordic countries are blurred; only the collective is relevant and of interest. English therefore increasingly leads to the risk of a more one-dimensional research, and this was hardly the intention?”
Olof Johansson Stenman, Vice Dean at the University’s School of Business, Economics and Law, has a different perspective and argues that this trend is actually both desirable and natural in many aspects. He points out that generally it is not especially difficult to publish research with Swedish applications internationally, and that in some cases we even have an advantage thanks to the high quality of Swedish registry data. “As long as it does not concern investigations of, for instance, legislation which has a specific application for Sweden, where in such case the interest outside of Sweden is likely to be somewhat weak, it is entirely natural that the research language is English. In most cases, the underlying research issues have a universal interest and it is therefore unreasonable to expect the rest of the world to have to learn Swedish in order to understand and make use of the results of Swedish research. But it is clear that even if the younger generation is becoming better and better in English, most people are probably less proficient in a foreign language, so those with English as their native
language of course have an advantage over others. That it is important with society interaction and discussions in Swedish, is however something that Olof Johansson-Stenman fully agrees with. – B U T IT ’ S A different issue that does not have as much to do with which language the dissertations and journal articles are written in. Certainly we must continue to maintain the scientific discussions in Swedish, and I agree that domain losses in Swedish can become a problem. But no matter what one thinks about this, English is the absolute dominant language of science. At the introductory and basic levels of the educational program, the courses are taught primarily in Swedish; but as the level advances, English increasingly becomes present. This development is not specific to Sweden, but rather is the same in most parts of the world and inevitable as globalisation increases.”
GUJOURNAL 2 | 2014
Photo: Johan Wingborg
Proportion of dissertations in Swedish and English during the period 2000–2013 at four faculties. Swedish English
School of Business, Economics and Law
Faculty of Education 20
Swedish English 30
Faculty of Social Sciences 20
No risk of “Globish” The Unit for Academic Language at the Faculty of Education is a new interfaculty feature at the University of Gothenburg. The idea is to collect all activities relating to language tutoring and language development courses into one single unit. The Director is Rhonwen Bowen. T H E D O M I N A N C E O F E N G LI S H as an international lingua franca has become even greater since the Internet began to spread across the globe in the 1990s, remarks Rhonwen Bowen, Senior Lecturer in English linguistics. “Everyone and anyone uses English online, and those who have English as their first language are now a minority of users. This development will certainly affect the English language in a variety of ways, but I do not think it will lead to a simplified Globish, as some fear. As everyone is well aware, English has always been a mix of influences from various different languages, including Old Norse, French, Latin and Greek, and that new words from other languages are easily adopted in to English is only natural. I have looked in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary from 2005 and found several new words from other languages as examples. From India, comes for example abba for ‘father,’ and from South Africa, indaba which means a ‘big meeting.’
That we live in a time of change, can also be seen on the dictionary’s map of the world where Europe is no longer in the centre, but has been replaced by the Pacific with China to the west, and America to the east.” Scandinavians are generally exceptionally good at English. But that does not mean that one can always write academic English equally as well. “The English used for academic writing is more conservative, with a complicated structure and a formal vocabulary. So what is needed is to train oneself with to feeling for this language. Therefore, for the past few years, I have been teaching a 7.5 academic credits course in Academic Writing and Critical Reading. The objective of the course is to make the participants aware of the typical rhetorical features of academic English that are available within their field of research. This term we have 20 students from the four corners of the earth, including Japan, China, Brazil, Austria, Iran, Poland and Sweden.” At the University of Gothenburg, individual language tutoring is available at all faculties and institutions, both in Swedish and in English. But the supervision of doctoral students is different, points out Rhonwen Bowen. Eva Lundgren
Faculty of Arts 20
facts Department of Academic Language/Enheten för akademiskt språk (ASK). The unit was established 1 October 2013 and is based in the Faculty of Education. The unit has the responsibility of collecting all of the university resources for tutoring and language development courses in Swedish and English, for students, teachers, doctorial students and researchers, and other staff. A website is presently under development. Swedish has been on the decline as a language of doctoral dissertations during the latter half of the 1900s, while
the dominance of English has increased. The biggest change is that German has just about disappeared as a doctoral dissertation language, compared to the 1930s when almost onethird of all Swedish dissertations were written in German. In Sweden, 87 percent of all dissertations were written in English in 2010, 12 percent in Swedish, and 1 percent in other languages. Source: English or Swedish? A survey of the language situation in higher education and research by Linus Salö, a report from Språkrådet; the Language Council of Sweden
photo: Thoma s Melin
Literary scholar Stina Otterberg thinks that language is important in the Humanities.
Good for Science Bad for Literature Within the natural sciences and medicine, English has been prominent for a long time. And in the social sciences, English is becoming increasingly common, while those in the humanities seem to be sticking with Swedish. Is there perhaps a conflict between internationalisation and participating in the Swedish debate? N 2 0 1 0, Stina Otterberg became somewhat of a celebrity among literary-minded people in the country. That was when she defended her dissertation on Olof Lagercrantz. “I never considered at all writing in English. Literature belongs to the interested public as much as us researchers, therefore of course I really have to use Swedish.” For literary scholars, the language has an
extra importance. Therefore, it would be a bit odd to write about a Swedish author in an entirely different language, according to Stina Otterberg. “With the liberal arts there is an exciting borderland between academic and artistic storytelling. I use a literary approach when I write about a writer, who of course also uses different concepts, and in this way I thus create a text that deals about a text. As a humanities scholar, I can also converse with texts from earlier times. I am currently writing, for example, about Erik Axel Karlfeldt and quote 80 year-old studies that suddenly become topical for me. Most dissertations will be only read by a few people, but we humanities scholars can comfort ourselves knowing that our conversations may extend over hundreds of years.” Who are included in the concept of literary scholars, in a much broader context,
includes both those on the “cultural pages” and those at home at the kitchen table; this is a larger concept than the strictly academic meaning, in the view of Stina Otterberg. “That important context, we would lose if we were to switch languages. When I write in Swedish, I can deepen my text with references to the author I am writing about, which makes the text so much more pleasurable. If I write about, for instance, Nils Ferlin’s barefoot children in English, I could not make winks to the poem in my own text, which would have caused a significant dimension to fall away. Language is my way of understanding the world; without that I’d feel like Bambi on ice.” The linguistic freedom is as important as the academic, in Stina Otterberg’s opinion. – O F CO U R S E T H E R E M AY B E a reason to use English even for a humanities scholar.
GUJOURNAL 2 | 2014
photo: Johan Wingborg
Researchers in classical languages often cater, for example, to colleagues worldwide. For me, however, the joyful language is important, and that comes from writing in one’s own native language. Perhaps there is a distrust in the academic world against fine writing? One critic commented about Olof Lagercrantz, for example, that the problem with him was that he writes so well you think it’s true. But a well-formulated essay that reports its sources is of course no less scientific than a tedious academic text.” The negative side of the AngloSaxonisation, may also, paradoxically, mean less internationalisation, points out Stina Otterberg. “Even writers from other cultures are understood today through the lens of English. If we quote a French philosopher today, it is often in English translation.” S E BA STI A N W E ST E N H O FF is a biophysicist. He was born in Hamburg but received his doctorate at Cambridge, and arrived at the University of Gothenburg six years ago. Since December of last year, he has been in the prestigious Wallenberg Academy Fellows program. ”My research concerns phytochromes, proteins that change their shape depending upon whether it is light or shade. It is this protein that causes leaves to be
photo: Malin Arnesson
Biophysicist Sebastian Westenhoff argues that language is not so important in the natural sciences.
formed when the seed grows out of the earth. Just as one must understand how a weaver’s loom works, in order to build a better model, we need to understand how proteins work in order to use them in conjunction with pharmaceutical products, for instance.” AT T H E LU N D B E RG L A B O R ATO RY, where Sebastian Westenhoff works, everyone speaks English. In addition, articles and research applications are written in English. “In the natural sciences, the trends are the same throughout the world, irrespective
of whether the researcher is from the US or Japan or from Sweden. Unlike the humanities and social sciences, the particular language is not important; it is the results that count.” Nevertheless Sebastian Westenhoff thinks that it is important to be able to talk about his research in Swedish. – I T H I N K T H AT researchers and scientists have an obligation to popularise; my grandmother should also be able to understand what I’m doing. But it’s actually about a greater responsibility than that. Both politicians and journalists want to have simple answers to complex questions. This isn’t so strange, as they must make a decision, or alternatively write an article, within a limited time/space. But precisely for this reason it is important that we scientists explain what the research actually is. That there are a few scientists who disagree about the threat of climate change, that is simply how natural science works. It took 50 years before Einstein’s theory of relativity was widely accepted; not because of scientists’ unwillingness, but rather because hypotheses must always be questioned. Unfortunately, participation in public debate doesn’t get one merit point, says Sebastian Westhoff Westenhoff. “Within the natural sciences, it is all about getting published and attracting money; those who don’t, will be soon forgotten. In official documents, maybe it says that interaction with society is important, but in practice, it is the fierce competition in the research applications that really counts.” In Cambridge, there are however several scientists who understand the importance of popularising science. “These scientists are so evidently included in the world’s elite that they do not risk any loss of prestige by teaching in a popular way. But in Sweden, as in many other countries, there is unfortunately not much incentive for such efforts.” A N D E R S S U N D E LL has been a PhD student at the Department of Political Science since 2009. For him, there isn’t the slightest doubt that the language of the dissertation has to be English. “About half of all articles in the field of political science are written by Americans and all of the major journals in the field are from the US. So if one wants to reach out internationally, one has no choice but to use English. And writing a doctoral dissertation in Swedish in order to contribute to the Swedish discussion and debate isn’t really a realistic good option. Firstly, it takes such a long time before the dissertation becomes finished that it can hardly be a contribution to the debate, and secondly, most likely it will reach only a very small audience.” But Anders Sundell nevertheless thinks that it’s important to participate in the discussion in Sweden. “We are a group of political scientists who started the blog “Politologerna” where we write about politics in a non-academic
For PhD student Anders Sundell English is the most natural choice.
»For me, however, the joyful language is important, and that comes from writing in one’s own language.« Stina otterberg
way. I think this is a good combination; to be published in international journals and at the same time, to be able to quickly comment on political events in a blog in Swedish.” But Anders Sundell still agrees that problems may arise with the increased usage of English. in in English than in Swedish, and although we at our institution receive help with proofreading, there is naturally the risk of a poorer, less expressive language when one is using anything other than their mother tongue. And keep in mind, when we think we are international, it’s actually rather so that we are instead Americanized. Being Swedish, one must have a good reason to write about something related to our part of the world, while Americans do not need to explain why, for example, US presidents are relevant. So the question is, how much we choose our subjects themselves and how much we instead try to adapt to the American journal editors.”
” M O ST PEO PLE W R IT E WO R S E
Growing as a person is necessary Sometimes we have to be reminded of things we already know. For instance, that people need to feel recognised and to have the opportunity for personal growth in order to thrive at work. “The University has a lot to learn from successful Swedish companies,” comments Anna Jonsson, recently appointed Assistant Professor who is behind two freshly published books, and who sees herself as a mediator of information and knowledge. FRO M T H E BA LCO N Y of her small penthouse flat, Anna Jonsson can catch a glimpse of her own office at the University of Gothenburg’s School of Business, Economics and Law just across the street. Last autumn she moved in, around the time that she became Assistant Professor of business administration at the Centre for International Business Studies. Anna arrived at the University of Gothenburg almost exactly one year ago, after ten years at the Lund University School of Economics and Management. “I think that it is most often coincidences that makes one end up where they are. It was, for example, never obvious to me to begin a research career. But via my education at the School of Business, Economics and Law I was recommended for the Vårdvision [Health Care] Skåne project,” which was led by Professor Richard Normann. After having worked with him and others with scientific backgrounds at SMG Consulting, this awakened my thinking to start become a researcher. I was inspired by the interaction and connection between practice and theory. But I do not come from a typical family of academics.” H er father trained as an architect but then moved into the business world. Her mother worked as a preschool teacher. Both encouraged her to study further. “During my childhood my father travelled quite a bit, and my mother was often alone with my brother and me. My mother taught us to help out at home and that one can deal with just about everything if they have a positive attitude. As for my
curiosity and wanderlust, I think I got that from my father. It was exciting to see what he brought back with him from his travels, like mangos from Kenya or pistachios from Pakistan, which was very exotic at that time back in the early 1980s.” After graduating with a bachelor’s degree and her year at SMG, Anna Jonsson studied for two magister Master’s Degrees, first a practical business-oriented management education, and then a more theoryoriented one within the field of organisation. On top of that, she supplemented her course load with courses in psychology and in informatics. “Had it not been for my brother teasing me because I was becoming a perpetual student, I might have chosen to take up a career as a researcher even then. But instead I found my way out into the world and ended up with Ernst & Young and their business centre for Knowledge Management in Stockholm.” B U T O N E Y E A R L AT E R when she happened to see a small ad in DN that Lund University had an open position for a research assistants, curiosity prevailed and Anna Jonsson moved back to Lund. Her specific research area was Ikea, with a focus on the company’s international expansion. Among other things, she received a research grant to support a four month stay in Kobe and Tokyo before the company’s opening there. “It was of course exciting, but also important,” points out Anna Jonsson. “If one wants to understand the challenges that are present in another country one has to actually go there and experience the culture first-hand. A foreign stay abroad is also inspiring and so I seized the opportunity to sit and write in San Michele on Capri, as well as at the Swedish Institute in Paris.” E A R LY I N 2 0 0 8 , Anna defended her disserta-
tion, after having succeeded in rushing to finish it right before the winter holidays. It received much media attention, both in Sweden and abroad. “There is obviously a great deal of interest in Ikea and to understand why the company is so successful. This has to do with,
among other things, a well-functioning transference of knowledge that contributes to both efficiency and innovative solutions.” Most significantly, the company is exceptionally careful with whom they recruit. “Also, the desire and willingness to teach others is fundamental. Employees rotate for example, between different departments and areas of the company, partly to get to know it better and partly because it contributes to a strong sense of belonging. Not the least relevant is Ikea’s apprenticeship system where new employees are working side by side with experienced colleagues.” A F T E R R EC E I V E D H E R PH . D., Anna Jonsson was awarded a Jan Wallander scholarship and a free hand to decide what she wanted to do with it. This led to four months in New York among other opportunities. And what is significant is, that is also when Anna became interested in a company in a completely different line of work, Mannheimer Swartling. “I asked them if I might be able to spend some time in their offices in Stockholm and study their activities and how they worked; how one learns the profession and becomes a good lawyer. After one year at the firm and a hundred interviews, I concluded that there actually is a lot of similarities between the law firm and the furniture giant. Among other things, both companies have an apprenticeship system and invest in their employee’s learning and development of further skills. Both Ikea and Mannheimer Swartling also have the distinction of being at the top of the list for 12 consecutive years when business management students and law students were asked about where they most wanted to work. Traditional Swedish leadership, with a shared vision, consensus and collaboration, works very well.” T H E OV E R A LL LE S S O N S LE A R N E D was recently collected together in a book she published, True partnership as True Learning: Knowledge Sharing within Mannheimer Swartling. Many of the experiences from Ikea and Mannheimer Swartling she would like to apply in academia. Like for example, a clearer structure for the sharing and exchange of knowledge, and a culture with
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a stronger sense of belonging. Anna Jonsson also believes that the academic world could learn from how the employee is looked upon, and which capabilities and values are sought with recruitment. During the time of her scholarship award, she also took the opportunity of joining different educational programs such as the gender integrated leadership program AKKA and the Lund University postdoctoral programme luPOD. It was at the latter she met Sara Eldén, Ph.D. in sociology. “We questioned quite a lot, including unclear career paths, and were perhaps perceived as pesky types. But our goal was not to find fault, but rather trying to seek change for the better. That was also why we took the initiative and are editors of the recently published book Efter festen - Om att konsten att utvecklas från doktor till docent [After the Party: About the art of evolving from PhD graduate to associate professor], which is about the art of surviving as a postdoctoral researcher. The life after graduation is now quite unclear. Despite legislative changes to improve career opportunities, the initiatives for change do not always trickle down very well in practice.” remembers herself that directly after obtaining her PhD she was thrown into teaching without really having any experience. Still I was lucky that someone had scheduled me into teaching. But I had no time to reflect on it the day after the graduation dinner party and neither did I have any conversation with either the head of the institution or my postgraduate supervisor about what I wanted to do. The University invests both time and money on their students and then, after they’ve defended their dissertation and got their degree, they just say goodbye or sometimes nothing at all. It’s all a bit strange.” In other organisations, they are more clear with what they want out of their ANNA JONSSON
CURRENT ACTIVITIES: Author of the book True partnership as true learning – knowledge sharing within Mannheimer Swartling. Together with Sara Eldén, she is also the editor of the recently published book Efter festen. In addition, she has also recently been appointed an Associate Professor at the Centre for International Business Studies, the University of Gothenburg’s School of Business, Economics and Law, and is working on a project at the Stockholm School of Economics dealing with retailing in Sweden, funded by the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation.
LIVES: In central Gothenburg. STRENGTHS: I am perceived as being positive, outgoing and fully engaged in what I do. WEAKNESS: I am sometimes quite stubborn and patience is not my strong point. BEST PART OF THE PROFESSION: To be able to combine creativity with the ambition to learn more about a subject. THIS YOU DID NOT KNOW: Anna Jonsson comes from Södra Sandby, and likes to serve homemade meatballs or “Bröderna Anderssons blodkorv (blood sausage).”
»It is interesting to consider what now motivates the Chinese and the role models they have.«
employees, reflects Anna Jonsson. “The University would benefit from greater clarity instead of unwritten rules and unclear positions. But we also need a better system for the transfer of knowledge into practice, for how we, for example, gradually are passed into the role of supervisor of graduate students. Someone who has just gotten their PhD should, for example, be able to work side by side with a docent, who in turn works closely with a professor. And if more senior tutors systematically supported the younger ones, would both most likely benefit from new ideas and increased motivation.” IT S H O U LD A L S O be more obvious to sometimes make a change of environment, thinks Anna Jonsson.
“For many, maybe in practical terms it wouldn’t work out very well for them to move to another city; but even to change institution, try out Chalmers, a company, or any other activity, could be useful in order to broaden one’s perspective. I get selfenergy of a change of environment and interaction with others. And with that always comes new ideas and lessons learned.” Anna Jonsson also lectures outside of the university. It is there where she sometimes hears that she is saying is not particularly new. “But, for me, research is not simply about new findings and new concepts, but rather it is as much about interpreting and understanding the world around us. Many of the models and theories we have today have been developed in a different time and therefore it is important to study them in practice and learn from them, and then go back to the theory and see which concepts help us to explain and develop our understanding of the reality. In my recent study, which ended up dealing a lot with motivation, it is interesting how basic classical motivation literature helps us understand the driving forces for one to share their knowledge and expertise. I feel a bit like a conveyor of knowledge that is reminiscent of old insights that might easily be forgotten in our stressful times.” R I G H T N OW Anna Jonsson divides her time between the Stockholm School of Economics where she is part of a research project on Swedish retail companies and the Centre for International Business Studies where she mentors doctoral students and teaches. Together with her colleagues at Organisation and Management, last autumn she travelled to Shanghai. It was interesting to return there after a visit 10 years ago. “The city has really changed and at times it feels almost more modern than New York City. It is interesting to consider what now motivates the Chinese and the role models they have. Who they learn from and which countries serve as their benchmarks? Because it’s interesting and relevant to see how a communist country is run more or less as a market economy. That Chinese companies are buying up existing global companies, such as Geely’s purchase of Volvo Cars, is something that we are likely to see more of in the future.” S omething else that Anna Jonsson is curious about is Gothenburg and the values that dominate here. “When I take a taxi to or from Landvetter, I usually ask the driver about what he or she thinks about Gothenburg’s future and what the city stands for. Everyone is very happy and helpful and says ‘jajamen’ as often as we Scanians say ‘härligt.’”
Text: Eva Lundgren PHOTO: Johan Wingborg
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Sweden is best in class
Emissions decline, despite more people flying Energy savings allows GU to achieve its environmental goals. “We’re almost there,” asserts Environmental Affairs Manager Eddi Omrcen. On the other hand, the number of trips by air are increasing again this year, even including simple trips to Stockholm.
T H E U N I V E R S IT Y ’ S target to reduce energy consumption per square meter by 15 percent has been achieved. Last year’s reduction corresponded to a savings of SEK 3.8 million (in today’s energy prices). “I am entirely convinced that we can do more in the field of energy savings. There are several quite exciting projects underway with Higab and Akademiska Hus about installing energy efficient lighting, better ventilation, and more efficient heating.” That travel by air continues to increase is no surprise to Eddi Omrcen. “Journeys have increased by 11 percent since 2008. We are traveling more and more, and that is something that we understandably must do if we are to be an international university. Of course we see a classic conflict of objectives in this regard, but this is something we simply have to live with. We do encourage our researchers and educators to use video conferencing and e- meetings, but it doesn’t seem
“Sweden is in the forefront with its accounting. The state funding system maintains a high standard internationally.”
T H AT ’ S T H E O PI N I O N
I N T H E C LI M AT E ST R AT EGY,
which was adopted in 2010, the University of Gothenburg has a target of reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by the year 2015. Last year, the reduction was 3 percent, according to the recent Sustainability Report. “Overall, things are going in the right direction. So far we have reduced emissions by 19 percent, so we will in all likelihood reach the target next year, reports Eddi Omrcen. This is mostly due to the fact that we have switched to green electricity and that we have significantly reduced our usage of fossil fuels for heating. A good model is the work at Experimental Biomedicine (EBM) where large environmental gains have been made, both economically and environmentally.”
»It bothers me that so many people take the plane … to Stockholm.« eddi omrcen
to have reduced the number of trips; but rather it means that we have more meetings.” But less flattering from an environmental perspective is that the number of flights between Gothenburg and Stockholm are the highest they’ve ever been. Last year, a total of 744 such flights were made. This despite the fact that there is a meeting and travel policy that all flights of under 500 kilometres require the approval from an immediate supervisor. “It bothers me that so many people take the plane when there are excellent train connections to Stockholm. The problem is that we do not have any possibility of imposing negative sanctions. I have great sympathy for the fact that the train is not so reliable during the winter months, but imagine if we were able to replace just 100 flights with travel-free meetings – it would give us a savings of SEK 200,000,” observes Eddi Omrcen. I N O R D E R TO M A K E A C H A N G E in this regard, GU recently decided to change the fee for carbon offsetting, which means that the fee will be higher for short trips, but significantly lower for long trips. Last year we also saw a reversal in the trend with a reduction of the use of one’s own car for work-related trips. Today, more people use the car pool’s green
cars for work-related travel. Another goal is that GU should promote research in the field of sustainable development. Since 2008, the number of scientific articles in this field has more than doubled. “This is extremely gratifying and shows that the research really contributes within the field of environment and sustainability. Apparently our researchers and scientists think this is interesting and important, but it also suggests that there are a lot of research funds to apply for within this area.” G I V E N T H AT current climate strategy extends to 2015, it is already time to develop new targets for the next period. “We have a big job ahead of us. The University emphasises more clearly than before, via Vision 2020, that we have a huge social responsibility that ties in with our environmental and sustainability efforts. The University should consider establishing a target in the climate area that is on par with the most progressive forces in the global arena,” suggests Eddi Omrcen who proposes a new climate target in which carbon dioxide emissions is reduced by 65 percent by 2030.
O F O LLE H ÄG G B O M , political economist and former Director of Administration at Örebro University, and who is now a consultant in the higher education sector. He has studied the consequences of the SUHF accounting model in Sweden and abroad. According to a report by the European University Association (EUA), which has audited the financial statements of research funding in 14 countries, Sweden is in the top along with the UK, Ireland and Finland. But there are quite large differences between countries in terms of the ability to report the full costs. – As noted in the report the under-funding of research is an international problem. The reporting of accounts in many countries is undeveloped, and some simply can not say how large the costs actually are. The result is that the money is received in poor conditions, which is one of the reasons that research in general is in a crisis in several European countries.” The EUA report also points out that there are still large deficiencies in the European funding system. The biggest problem is that many funders do not include the necessary funds to compensate for indirect expenses. “In such case, it’s someone else who has to pay or money is taken from state appropriations that is actually supposed to go into independent research. There are no free lunches.” Olle Häggbom, who has also looked at the American system of financing, thinks that the Swedish debate is narrow and often lacks an international perspective. “The idea that Sweden has a higher overhead than other countries is a misconception. The calculations are done in in different ways, making it difficult to compare percentages. We are located at approximately the same level as other countries.” E LIT E U N I V E R S ITI E S I N T H E U N IT E D STAT E S often have a high overhead, he points out. The level of the overhead for each educational institution is determined by the government over a three year period. That Sweden comes out well in international comparisons, is according to Olle Häggbom, due to the fact that early on there was a national coordination under the leadership of the Association of Swedish Higher Education. “To have a comparable, transparent and accurate accounting system is extremely important. It gives a true and accurate picture, where it is not possible to hide things. It is also an incentive to constantly improve.”
On the lookout for good ideas What is required for a university to be able to develop into a better home for innovative research? Creative leadership is an essential part, new research shows. “The task of a leader is to stimulate the employees’ creativity in order to achieve scientific breakthroughs and innovations,” according to Professor Sven Hemlin, who has recently published a book that destroys a famous myth. You are the chief editor of the recently published collected edition Creativity and Leadership in Science, Technology, and Innovation (Routledge – 2013). Why have you published such a book?
“We think it’s high time to kill the myth that creativity can or should be controlled. The research leader can stimulate creativity. This is what we show in this book, which consists of ten contributions plus an opening and concluding chapter where we analyse what has been done and where research stands today, as well as where the challenges lie. One of the co-editors, Professor Michael D. Mumford, is one of the world’s leading researchers on creativity in the workplace. The other two editors of the volume Carl Martin Allwood and Ben R. Martin have also made important contributions, in their respective fields. The book is actually a result of a conference we held in Gothenburg in summer 2010 with the theme of creativity and leadership in science, technology and innovation. Some of the contributions from the conference are included, but in addition we have invited researchers and received chapters from a few others who are especially successful in this field. In the book, we discuss topics like the importance of leadership for creativity in science, technology and innovation, and there is a chapter for example that deals with the unique demands placed on Interdisciplinary Studies. Another chapter deals with training for creative leadership.” “The book is written primarily for managers and leaders in both the business world and the public sector, particularly at universities and other institutions of higher education. But it is also addressed to everyone within the research community who
needs knowledge about how leaders can stimulate creativity.” There is a general perception that creativity neither can be nor should be controlled, but rather is found as a characteristic of highly motivated and independent individuals who do not need leadership. But in this new book, you assert that this too is a myth?
“The ‘sacred spark theory’ is a bit misleading as it is based upon that originality only emanates from the individual on their own. We believe that all people have the possibility to develop creative approaches and original thoughts, if the right conditions exist. People now talk about the “small c,” the working life’s creativity, and the “big C” which characterises the individual genius. Here, one thinks of Einstein and Marie Curie. But such people are very few in number, even within the scientific community.” Previous research shows that many components are needed in an organisation to work together to bring about a creative working environment. The manager is an important factor. But what can a manager do in concrete terms to stimulate the creativity of the employees, for example in a workgroup?
“To a large extent a manager plays the
roll of leading by example and can stimulate a creative working environment in a workgroup. One of the project manager’s most important tasks is to capture good ideas among his employees. But in order for that to happen, this requires a permissive and open atmosphere along with a certain degree of autonomy and freedom. The leader, who must be an expert in the field, must then catch the good ideas that are not fully formulated, and in turn generate their own thoughts, which link to the group’s or the individual member’s suggestions or ideas. Then the leader gives feedback and sends the ideas back to the group or to the member of the group in order to develop them further if they prove to be sustainable. The process requires time for reflection and development of knowledge.” “A leader can stimulate creativity among his employees by simply having the expectation that they will come up with creative ideas and solutions, referred to as the Pygmalion effect or a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The term “Creativity” can mean a whole range of different things, and the meaning is almost impossible to grasp. But would you nevertheless try to define creativity?
“An accepted definition of creativity says it is the result of a process where the product must be new, original and be useable. The product can be used for anything, but the application does not need to be practical, it can instead also be theoretical. It is the results, and not how one looks at their work process, that counts. Others must be able to assess the final results and find it to be creative. Sometimes you can hear colleagues say that they’ve been creative today, with many new ideas. And this may be well and good, but if it does not lead to any concrete results which others in the field think is creative, then it is hardly something creative.” In the book, you assert that creative leadership is composed of two basic factors. What are these?
“The first is that the leader, for example in a research group, thoroughly knows their field, in other words, is an expert. This is absolutely crucial. Secondly, he or she must
photo: hille vi Nagel
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In what way can the university administration stimulate creative research groups?
“The senior management’s primary task is to satisfy the needs for basic resources for all of the teaching and research activities. But the research needs vary between, say, the bioengineers and ethnologists. My recommendation is to spread the resources to more groups than is the case today, and not concentrate them to get big research centres. Reward the good research that is creative. The university administration must protect research groups; this is where new ideas are created. Instead of preparing visions for organisations, one should seek to encourage and reward good ideas.” But in Vision 2020, the importance of building a creative research environment is emphasised. Is this not sufficient?
Sven Hemlin is Professor in Psychology and chief editor of the recently published collected edition Creativity and Leadership in Science, Technology and Innovation.
be good at providing support at both the individual and the group level. The support consists of two parts, starting with that the leader must be an intellectual sounding board and as well be able assist with further development of the employees’ ideas. The second part is that the leader must provide emotional support. It is important that the manager or department head cares about his/her employees and gives them recognition. The leader should not withhold praise, but rather creativity is supported when the manager shows appreciation for even small creative efforts.” What does leadership look like in the different phases of the creative process?
“A different style of management is required for each of the different phases of a project. In the beginning of a new research project, the leader must give more free reign; this is so that one will develop the new ideas. Later, the leader must tighten and focus the work towards a specific goal and establish deadlines. Ultimately, one hopes, to a sustainable idea. People talk about moving from the divergent to the convergent phase, which requires more focus in order to complete a project.”
»In Vision 2020, there are fine thoughts and nice words, but such documents have no real function for individual researchers or research groups.« Ok, but can research leaders learn to deal with the different management styles?
“This is not a trait that is innate, but many can learn. In research and industrial development the group leaders are usually experts, but that is not enough. To lead and support groups require a touch, long experience, and preferably that one has taken courses in creative leadership. In the US, there are plenty of such courses, but I do not know of any in Sweden. Nor is this something one learns as in a postgraduate program or management training. As an individual researcher, one can also learn to be more creative.”
“No, the bulk of the text is really thin. To develop and create new venues for meetings, we have heard all of this before. Researchers already do this. It also says that interdisciplinary collaborations should be stimulated, but it is unclear what boundaries it is referring to. Over the past twenty years, scientific collaborations have of course increased quite a bit, within all areas and across disciplinary boundaries. The increase in co-authored publications is a sign of this. And to work towards clear career paths, I have never understood this to be a problem in creative environments.” In Vision 2020, there are many fine thoughts and nice words, but such documents have no real function for individual researchers or research groups. We live in an entirely different world, where we work with developing new knowledge. That’s where the good ideas are created. Visions are rather something for the university’s senior management, something to show off to the world. It involves external marketing, something which also can have a function. But for research, it has no significance.” You have previously studied the characteristics of successful research groups and concluded that creative groups tend to be small. This runs counter to the prevailing research policy, but we perhaps now see that the era of the large research grant is over?
“We are currently in a reverse of the trend, it seems to me. Long-term major support can be good, and stability may be needed, but the risk is that too much of an abundance of resources create laziness and leads to reduced innovation. More and more people are starting to realise that a wider distribution of the resources is better. If the investments are channelled into a few major recipients, then the likelihood of new ideas is reduced. You never know where new ideas might pop up.” Allan Eriksson
Report Photo: Johan Wingborg
Emad Alsaleh and Layla Kandakji are architects who have come to the Department of Conservation from the war in Syria.
Architects received refuge They have watched irreplaceable cultural heritage being bombed to pieces. But that is not the biggest problem, say Emad Alsalehand Layla Kandakji. ‘What’s worse is all the people who have died and all the hatred that the conflict has led to.’ They are researchers in architecture who left a violent Syria for the safety of Gothenburg. Both are architects and left a violent Syria for their safety and for doing research about the culture heritage in post-conflict at the University of Gothenburg. Alsaleh and Kandakji are married and work at the Faculty of Architecture, University of Aleppo, where Alsaleh also has been Head of Department of “Building and Execution Sciences” and in the same time Coordinator of the Tempus Master Program “Rehabilitation of Historic Islamic Cities”. However, the war that started three years
ago and reached Aleppo in the summer of 2012 has changed everything. Kandakji grew up in Homs, Syria’s third largest city. ‘ People there are known for their jokes and funny stories,’ she says. ‘But today that’s not what you associate the city with. Instead, you think of it as the place where the worst battles have raged. My mother is over 80 and has had to manage without electricity and heating. It’s very difficult for her just to get the food she needs. Her strong faith helps, but I’m always worried about her.’ Kandakji has eight siblings. Most of them have moved to other countries. Her father raised his sons and daughters to be gender equal and independent. One result of this is that all of Kandakji’s sisters have gone to college. Alsaleh has Palestinian roots. In 1948 when Israel was formed, his father, who was 16 at the time, was forced to flee to Syria alone.
Most of Alsaleh’s siblings also went to college. At first he had plans to become an engineer, but since he loves design he ended up studying architecture at the large state university in Aleppo. ‘I met Leyla at the university, but at first we were just friends. I went on to study in Dresden, married Layla, had two daughters and got my PhD in 1989. We eventually moved back to Syria. We lived in Homs and later in Aleppo where Layla got her PhD in 2013.’ A leppo is Sy ria’ s second largest city. It is also one of the world’s oldest settlements, dating back some 7 000 years. The ancient part of the city was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1986. However, the invaluable cultural heritage is at great risk of being reduced to rubble. ‘I mourn all the material destruction,’ says Alsaleh. ‘But what’s worse is that 150 000 people have died and many more have been injured in the war.’
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‘Buildings can be restored,’ says Kandakji. ‘It’s a lot harder to restore people’s morals. Aleppo has always been a meeting place for different cultures, with people of different colours and religions living next door to each other. I don’t understand where all the meaningless hatred suddenly came from.’ ‘We had a 5-minute walk to the university,’ Alsaleh explains. ‘After the war started, that’s where we had to go every day to charge our laptops since there was no electricity at home. You couldn’t go outside after sunset because it was completely dark everywhere. And if we had to go out to buy bread or vegetables, we left our university IDs at home since intellectuals risked being kidnapped. We were confined to roaming in a tight spot from Aleppo, while the snipers made it impossible to go further than this.’ the Department of Conservation invited Alsaleh and Kandakji to Gothenburg as Erasmus Mundus scholars. ‘It took a lot of paperwork to come here,’ says Kandakji. ‘I hadn’t been able to visit Homs in two and a half years and felt I wanted to see my mother before I left. So I went there for three days but didn’t go outside. Several of my relatives have been killed. For example, my cousin’s son disappeared on his way to the University.’ The distance from Aleppo to the port city of Tartus is 280 km and usually takes about three hours with bus, but Alsaleh and Kandakji had to travel through the desert and the distance became about 450 km. ‘It took eight hours, and although the road was supposed to be safe, we felt everything but safe,’ says Kandakji. ‘People usually chit-chat on the bus, but this time everybody was quiet.’ In Tartus, they took a taxi all the way to Beirut, Lebanon. ‘We got stuck there for a month,’ says Alsaleh. ‘I got a visa, but Layla didn’t and the authorities told us she had to go all the way to Amman to pick it up in person. But we had heard that Syrians travelling there were turned away at the border. Thanks to Johan Ahlgren at the International Centre, Layla finally had the visa sent to her.’ At the airport, they were once again stopped. As a Palestinian-Syrian, Alsaleh is not allowed to stay in Lebanon for a long period without a special permit. ‘I was afraid this would cause more trouble, but after some work we were on our way.’ I n M ay last y ear ,
T he y arrived in Gothenburg in late November last year. They live downtown and can easily walk to the Earth Sciences Centre where the Department of Conservation is located. ‘All the Swedes we have met have been humble and very nice,’ says Kandakji. ‘We have been to the theatre, museums and international Café, and we have visited several interesting churches and sights. But there are some things we don’t understand, like the ticket system for public transport.’ They have also visited Chalmers. ‘We are impressed by the relaxed interaction between teachers and students. Syrian
»I mourn truly all material devastation. but much worse is understood that 150 000 people have died in Syria because of the war and even more have been injured.« Emad Alsaleh Ti g r i
SYRIEN Hama Homs
universities are much more hierarchical,’ says Alsaleh. ‘We’re also trying to learn Swedish, but even if we speak both English and German, we have a hard time saying the Swedish words right.’ T he y each held a seminar on 26 March. Alsaleh talked about Aleppo between the individual and collective memory, while Kandakji discussed the design transformations of residential architecture in the city. ‘We live one day at a time,’ she explains. ‘But we hope that one day we will be able to return to our normal lives. What’s happening in Syria is a shame and it blows my mind that influential countries in the world are just letting it go on. Most people want peace more than anything.’ ‘I’m optimistic, though,’ says Emad Alsaleh. ‘I cannot imagine that I wouldn’t come back to Aleppo to my family, friends and students. Syria needs international intervention to end the violence. In a next step, it will take a lot of work to re-establish people’s respect for each other and the tolerance that used to characterise our country. Then we will be able to live in harmony again.’ They also want to thank all those who contributed to making their trip to Gothenburg possible, especially Charlotta and Jon Erik Nordstrand. Alsaleh and Kandakji will not return to Syria as long as still the war.
Eva Lundgren Allan Eriksson
Deir el Dhor
So, How did Al-Saleh and Kandakji end up in Gothenburg? GU Journalen asked Charlotta Hanner Nordstrand, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Conservation.
‘Both my husband Jon Erik, former Chief Librarian at GU, and I have visited Syria several times. We were for example there in 2009 to study remains of the Byzantine culture. We got to know several scholars at the University of Aleppo, including Fatina Kourdi, who later visited Gothenburg, and Emad Al-Saleh and Layla Kandakji.’ When Johan Ahlgren, administrator at the International Centre, last year found out that the University of Gothenburg could join Jolyleem, an Erasmus Mundus programme targeting Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, he knew that Charlotta Hanner Nordstrand had some contacts in Syria. ‘So in May last year we invited Emad Al-Saleh and Layla Kandakji, and after a lot of work, by the International Centre, the Department of Conservation, my husband Jon Erik and Niklas Nannskog at Jolyleem in Lund, all the documents had been completed. But none of this would have been possible without the couple’s daughter Noura, who was able to reach her parents from Germany during the short moments when the telephone and internet connections with Syria worked. We are all very happy they are here.’
Sc hol ars at Risk In 2012, the University of Gothenburg joined the international network SAR, Scholars at Risk, which supports scholars who work with academic freedom around the world. In mid-March, the University of Gothenburg hosted a meeting with representatives from the universities in Lund, Uppsala, Stockholm and Malmö to discuss a possible Swedish SAR network. ‘We are also planning on hosting a SAR scholar starting in 2015,’ says Pro-Vice-Chancellor Helena Lindholm Schulz. ‘We have looked at the University of Oslo, which has been involved in SAR for a long time and allocates about 1 million SEK per year to host a persecuted scholar, and we believe that this is a reasonable commitment also for the University of Gothenburg.’ SAR scholars are carefully matched with host universities to ensure a good academic fit. ‘One important principle is that the scholar is expected to make an active contribution at the host university,’ says Lindholm Schulz. Management staff at the University of Gothenburg will receive more information about SAR in April.
Lack of Funding – a Lie G U J ournal no. 1/ 2 0 14 contains an enlightening article about the university’s efforts to sink its own successful research center GOArt (Göteborg Organ Art Center). It concerns the institute I have been working for since I came to Göteborg about 15 years ago. Like other international researchers in our area (musicology, especially keyboard organology and performance practice research) I came here because I had been strongly attracted by the high reputation that GOArt already enjoyed worldwide. In the same issue of GU Journal there is an interview with GU’s chief economist, Lars Nilsson. The good message is that there is plenty of money, nearly one billion crowns, stashed away for research and teaching in GU’s balance. The bad news is, that GU, according to Nilsson, does not manage to use the money properly according to the assignment, i.e. for research and teaching. He also mentions that GU could have employed hundreds of researchers and teachers for the bunkered mountain of money. Well, at the same time GU’s Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts with its department the School of Music and Drama, HSM (since less than three years formally responsible for GOArt), put a lot of effort into closing down GOArt, forcing researchers, who enjoy an excellent international standing, out of ”business”. I find this all to be a declaration of an ethical bankruptcy by
GU, the faculty, and HSM! It is amazing that the faculty and HSM willingly want to shoot themselves into the knee: They try to effectively kill their research center, GOArt, after nearly two decades of successful research. To do so they claim a lack of funding, which we now know does not exist. Also they neglect their responsibilities as an employer by acting against reputable researchers, instead of trying to keep them and to preserve the high standards of research. They should of course instead have explored all possible options to keep the center. HSM’s and the Faculty’s leadership claim independently that the University’s central level is not interested in funding this successful research center. But a request for funding has not been turned in before March 21, 2014 by HSM. It consists of a mere two pages and only asks to either prolong GOArt’s existence for less than two years or to close it down. Considering the scope of GOArt’s research one could expect a thorough application, supported by all the evidence, to get constant funding for GOArt’s research. W h y do the faculty and HSM not trust that GOArt, after nearly twenty highly successful years, will provide further relevant output? Why do they not give us researchers the well-deserved trust for another 5–6 years (and that includes decent long-term employments, not the
Reply: We cannot afford GOArt T he U niversit y of G othen b urg
has a large surplus in its finances, and this is a problem. This surplus, however, has not, unfortunately, generated any surplus for the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts, which, on the contrary, has to bear a deficit in terms of its research activities. The Faculty receives a very small amount of funding from the University. Approximately 16 per cent of the total funding from the university is allocated to research which can be compared to the University as a whole, where funding for research and education funding, respectively, is issued in a 50:50 proportion.. That being said, the research funding we have been allocated and that has gone to GoArt (the Göteborg Organ Art Centre) over the years is indeed no small amount. It is true that GoArt has been awarded substantial external funding, but this research centre has also generated substantial costs: GoArt was previously granted a strategic investment over a period of 3 years (until 2015) by the Faculty Board, and as late as last Autumn the Faculty Board also decided to grant GoArt 2.4 million SEK to cover a deficit they had incurred. In other words, GoArt has been given high
priority by a Faculty that has not even been able to afford to advertise vacancies for doctoral studentships the last three years, which of course weakens all the other research environments at the Faculty. The Faculty Board has also made it quite clear that it cannot grant further funding to GoArt – which is also in line with the University’s new policy for Centres of Research and Expertise, which states that after a period of six years, a centre of this kind must bring in its own funding, or change its form. GoArt has been a Centre of Research and Expertise for longer than this. Over the years, the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts has applied to the Vice-Chancellor of the University for extra funding for GoArt, both in writing, and by way of oral requests. The Faculty has also received support; however, support has not been granted for the last applications we have submitted. Recently we sent one more written application to the ViceChancellor.
Ingrid El am, dean Johannes L andgren, vice dean
usual modern slaveholder-type: half year 40 per cent, 60 per cent for a quarter of a year and the like)? Despite the fact that GOArt never has had more than a handful researchers, GOArt has taken in about 150 million Swedish crowns of funding to the university and generated a large research output, which forms a major share of HSM’s and actually the whole Faculty’s research. A large share of the funding GOArt has drawn, has gone to serve the university’s inflated bureaucracy for shared/common costs. Is it not a paradox that the same bureaucrats who now act strongly to close down GOArt are living partly from the funding to which GOArt contributes strongly? GOArt got excellent comments from the university’s evaluation RED10. The experts recommended that GU should provide a healthy basis of funding for GOArt ”in a volatile situation”. Instead GU just brushes off its own expensive evaluation and tries now to get rid of GOArt as soon as possible. A new prefect of HSM is coming this year, and maybe she has a positive attitude towards research and GOArt? It seems that the present leadership of the faculty and HSM wants to create a fait accompli before the new prefect comes into the picture. Finally, the acting against GOArt since last autumn has been concealed from
Reply: I do not at
all share the image Ibo conjures up
A letter to the Vice-Chancellor with requests about funds was finalised a couple of days ago and the unit manager for church music, all the staff and the student body through their representatives in the management group and departmental councils have been continuously informed of the situation concerning GOArt and the processes we are working with in order to see what we can save of the activities. Anna Maria Koziomtzis, Tempor ary head of Department
Evasive response The answers are evasive and unsatisfactory. The response by the faculty displays the spirit of a bookkeeper: Scholarly activity costs money, for sure, but Elam and Landgren are withholding, that GOArt has generated huge assets for the money, both tangible values worth many a million crowns, e.g. the organ in Nya Örgryte church that can easily stand unchanged
those of HSM’s students who study organ or keyboard related areas. They have to date not been officially informed by the faculty or HSM. Among the students are those who have come here, just because of the qualified research of GOArt being a part of their curriculum. This I find to be an impudent way of treating the weakest part of a university, the students. I f someone wonders why I am not shying away from writing this letter in a personally highly precarious situation, please consider: I do not have much to lose having been left by HSM’s leadership with a 40 per centemployment since January 1, 2014 (only one of many similar irresponsible part-time employments at the HSM). ”Too little to live on, too much to die for” as the German saying goes. HSM’s leadership is actively driving the process to fire GOArt’s employees. I wish more people would dare speak up and decline being part in this irresponsible acting against research and the people behind it.
Ibo Ortgies, Researcher at GOArt – Göteborg Organ Art Center (for the time being!)
for a hundred years and more, and the non-material values made up by top-rate scientific and artistic output. Instead they seem to want to cast the high-quality profile generated by GOArt into the dustbin! The claim, that a research center must in any case bring in its own finances or change its form after six years, is wrong: The faculty’s leadership might wish to read the relevant policy document more closely! That the faculty cannot afford to employ doctoral students is certainly irksome. But should one then also forfeit an established research center, a strong profile for the entire university? Doctoral students and researchers are attracted to excellent research of high, global reputation – like f ex at GOArt. Koziomtzis states, that students have been ”continuously informed” about GOArt’s situation. The evidence I have collected from several students clearly contradicts this claim. And how any of the activity of GOArt should be ”saved”, for example without qualified research staff, probably only Koziomtzis will know.
»A Childhood Dream Fulfilled« Sam Dupont, marine biologist at the Department of Biology and Environmental Science What are you doing right now?
I am writing these words while sitting in a plane to Hong Kong. But I ought to work on my presentation that I will give in a few days on the impact of climate change on marine species. When I was a kid, I wanted to be Indiana Jones: travel the world and explore its mysteries, be as cool in the middle of the jungle and let’s face it, seduce the girl. Today, I have the feeling that I am not too far from my children’s dreams. I am travelling a lot and spend 20 per cent of my time “on the road”. My job as a researcher is highly flexible – I am my own boss – and I do explore the mysteries of life. I also had the chance to find THE girl and we have found the perfect equilibrium between family, work and... fun. What’s most fun with your research?
That’s easy. I do love to be in the laboratory, keeping my hands wet and do experiments on fascinating little marine creatures. I am continuously amazed by how life is creative. Every year, we culture a range of different organisms and seeing an organism develop
from a single cell is just fascinating. I also like the unexpected. Being a resear cher means having to face challenges continuously. It can be results challenging your hypothesis, technical problems, or animals not behaving. I do love this continuous need to improvise, revise my thinking, and be a neverending learner. It is intellectually challenging. This job also allows you to meet and socialize (translate: drink beers) with very smart and fun people. What difficulties do you face and what is the solution?
To quote famous Swedish philosophers: “money, money, money”. I spend more and more of my time securing money for my team. Not the funniest part of the job. I think there is a problem in the research system today that researchers spend too much of their time trying to get money (with a very low success rate) than actually doing their job: researching. This has consequences for the quality of research produced. I do have some utopic ideas on how the research funding policy could evolve but I guess that in the short term, I should rather try to find a rich mentor (Bill Gates, if you read this ...)
How will society benefit from your research?
I did a PhD in marine ecology on a subject that was purely curiosity driven. I was actually quite proud of this. I was doing science for the beauty of it. Now I have two kids and it has made me change my way of thinking. I do want to contribute to a better world, by being a good citizen but also through my scientific contribution. My science is still driven by curiosity but this curiosity is directed toward society relevant science. In my team, we try to contribute to society in different ways. We explore the potential consequences of a growing human population on the marine species, ecosystems and countless services the sea is providing to us. We have a solution oriented approach to not only document the disaster associated to climate change but also be prepared and armed. We work on strategies to communicate the scientific information to all stakeholders from kids in schools to policy makers. We also work hands-in-hands with the medical field. We truly believe that we can learn from marine organisms to the benefit of humans, for example in regenerative medicine. In other words, we try to save the world. Photo: Private
The abridged version of the University of Gothenburg staff magazine, GU Journal. Issue no 2 April 2014.