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Most disquieting is the rise of nationalism and populism.




Time for the major research evaluation Make third-cycle programmes three years! PEOPLE

Sami Adwan turned hate to reconciliation

THE GADGET IN OUR LIVES Alexandra Weilenmann on mobile technology “The internet of things” is a much used name for our brave new world in which the interlinking of everyday objects is common. Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG



VICE-CHANCELLOR Protect science and academic freedom!

Not least importantly, we must offer resistance to, and protest against, undemocratic tendencies.

REEDOM OF EXPRESSION and academic freedom are basic values in any democracy. They are also cornerstones of research and higher education. This is why it is with great disquiet that I and many others are now witnessing how these basic values are being threatened all around the world. At this very moment, there are many signs that academic freedom is being restricted. In many countries, it is not only that direct government funding has been severely cut back. More and more examples are now emerging of the throttling of both university freedom and of university independence from economic, political and ideological ties. In Turkey, Russia and now, most recently, Hungary, universities are being closed if they do not fit into the decision-makers’ picture of how higher education and research should be conducted. In Turkey, many academics and other intellectuals have been dismissed from their jobs and imprisoned.

NOT LEAST importantly, we must offer resistance to, and protest against, undemocratic tendencies. One way of doing this is to take part in various manifestations supporting those who are affected. An example here is provided by the statements of protest from a large number of universities and organisations against Hungary’s plans to close the Central European University in Budapest. Another is the March for Science, a large event that is being held worldwide on Saturday the 22nd of April in support of free science. Sweden is holding three parallel marches (in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Uppsala). The goal is a wide show of support with participants from all areas of research. I myself will be participating in the march along with Stefan Bengtsson, vice-chancellor of Chalmers. I hope there will be very many who answer the call to stand up for science. Together we can make a difference. Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG

IN MANY PLACES, there is a reduction of state resources going to research (primarily in the humanities, social sciences and art). We are also seeing how the mobility that is such an important part of knowledge development and of knowledge dissemination is being limited. Besides the contested restrictions in the USA, we have, in our immediate vicinity, Denmark. Our Scandinavian cousin is reducing its number of study places for foreign students. There, the issue is lack of profitability. On completing their studies, most of the foreign students choose not to stay in the country. This is just one example of the commercialisation of higher education. It is happening all around the world.

Even if Swedish universities are not being subjected to ideological limitations or cut backs in resources, we do have an important role as regards defending fundamental democratic rights (e.g. the freedoms of expression and of the press) and safeguarding independent and curiosity-driven research and higher education. This role is ours both inside and outside Sweden.


EDITORS Independent board desirable IN THIS ISSUE we devote five pages to

the latest misconduct case to attract major media attention. Professors Suchitra Holgersson and Michael Olausson are in the spotlight. The “misconduct council” believes they have breached the rules and given misleading information. However, the fact that two of the council’s medical members reserved their opinions shows that the matter is far


from simple and that the regulations in this area are unclear. This is also why several investigative reports have recently been presented. One more is also on the way. Amongst other things, professor Margaretha Fahlgren proposes that the definition of misconduct should be sharpened and that a new, independent authority should be set up. Another matter attracting attention is that different

higher education institutions interpret the possibility of approaching the Central Ethical Review Board (CEPN) differently. The Swedish Higher Education Authority has remarked that this is unsatisfactory from the legal soundness perspective.



04. All research now to be evaluated again. 06. He has studied several decades of views of third-cycle education. 08. Kriterium gets Norwegian stamp of quality.

FOCUS 10–15

10. Swedish language course opens academia to refugees. 14. Girma Berhanu started “Homework Help” to make a difference.


16. Mobile phones facilitate human communication.


21. “Most disquieting is the rise of nationalism and populism,” states Magnus Mac-Hale ­Gunnarsson.

PEOPLE 22–23

22. Meet Sami Adwan. Against all the odds, he is a leading peace researcher.

10 Learning Swedish rapidly.

– I want to become a vet, says Lujain Tellawi, one of the students in the preparatory course in Swedish. Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG




A new research evaluation is now under way. This time, it is not about giving marks, but about analysis and reflection that will lead to suggestions for improvements. “The idea is that it is we ourselves who should direct our own evaluation,” explains Staffan Edén, assistant vice-chancellor. A






It's important that the University of Gothenburg takes control of its own quality improvement.

THE WORK ON the new evaluation, RED 19, began as early as last autumn with a pilot study in which all deans, heads of departments and other management members were interviewed. To give other research perspectives, focus groups were also involved. “The evaluation is to be a support for our initiatives to improve both the quality of our research and its relevance to our study programmes and collaborations,” states Staffan Edén. “We have drawn inspiration from Uppsala University, which is a trailblazer as regards research evaluations. Just like it, we have come to the conclusion that, this time, we do not want a mark-awarding evaluation. If there is a system with rewards and punishments, there are always tacticians who learn how to exploit it. People aren’t stupid. Instead, we are looking for an assessment of quality. Some hundred external assessors are to give us good advice on how we, given our different operating conditions, can improve our operations. This may be a question of, for example, proposals for new infrastructure or new recruitment or tips about other higher education

institutions who are working with similar issues.” One reason for carrying out a research evaluation is to forestall any eventual, external decisions on reviews. “It’s important that the University of Gothenburg takes control of its own quality improvement. Otherwise, we may end up in an evaluation system that is determined by the state and which we don’t really want. Several other higher education institutions are of the same opinion. Chalmers and the Royal Institute of Technology are amongst those who are also carrying out research evaluations similar to ours.” STAFFAN EDÉN highlights that, to

carry out RED 19 efficiently, already existing material will first be used. “The School of Business, Economics and Law has, for example, its accreditations and the Sahlgrenska Academy its investigations under the National Agreement on Medical Education and Research (ALF). Besides bibliometric studies, there are also collatable facts on external funding, patents and collaborative assignments. Here, the task of heads of departments and other employees

RED 19 RED 19 entails an evaluation of the quality of rese­ arch at the Univer­ sity of Gothenburg. It is to be built on data that is already avail­able at the hig­ her education insti­ tution. A decision is expected in June. Preparatory work will be under way throughout 2018. In spring 2019, some one hundred ex­ pert reviewers will be contributing their views. The work is expected to be completed in ­autumn 2019.

is to devise strategies and new ways of thinking.” Employees have up until the 5th of May to submit views on the investigation proposal. The plan is that the board should make a policy decision in June. Work is then to begin on the project plan. All the planning should accelerate in the autumn. “WE’VE CALCULATED that it will take a year to develop materials and self-assessments. The external visitors are scheduled to be here in spring 2019 and the final report should then be ready in the autumn.” Staffan Edén estimates that the cost of RED 19 is expected to be somewhere around SEK 8 – 12 million. “The alternative would have been for everyone to assess themselves. That would have cost just as much and we would then not have had the overview.” The idea is that, 1–2 years after the evaluation, the vice-chancellor should carry out a follow-up. “I hope that these evaluations will be repeated every seventh year so that they become part of the continuous quality improvement system.” EVA LUNDGREN & ALLAN ERIKSSON MAY 2017 GUJOURNAL



Increase the chance to become PhDs! “Compress third-cycle programmes into three years and hold some of the courses at master’s level. That way, more people would have the opportunity to try out life as a researcher before deciding whether to continue along that line. At the same time, departments could appoint more doctoral students.” This is a proposal from Erik Joelsson, the writer of a dissertation on views of third-cycle education in post-war Sweden. Text: EVA LUNDGREN Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG

BEFORE WORLD WAR II, third-cycle

education was an individual “learning project” for better-off people, primarily males. It had little to do with societal development. After the war, Sweden invested heavily in education as a means of building a modern, welfare society. Third-cycle courses and programmes were seen as particularly relevant to society. “Academics were considered important not only in industry (to promote development), but also in upper-secondary schooling and, of course, in higher education institutions themselves (to guarantee regrowth). Over the years, what is expected of newly graduated PhD students has changed. Nonetheless, the idea has always been that they should make important contributions to society.” So says, Erik Joelsson, newly graduated doctor of the theory of science. By examining the Official Reports of A­


NEWS the Swedish Government (SOU) from 1945 – 2004, he was able to follow how views of doctoral students and third-cycle education have changed along with the reshaping of society at large. “You could say a spirit of compromise, consensus and collaboration pervaded the government’s desire to control the outer framework and the higher education institutions’ control of the content of programmes and courses. However, the state has increasingly sought to endow doctoral students with new capabilities and properties. Examples include the generation of growth, collaborations with the business world and the creation of innovations. Natural sciences methodology has often been held out as an ideal. Being a doctoral student has been seen as an instance of teamwork in which all players are mutually dependent on each other and where the focus is on working efficiently and publishing jointly in international journals. Researchers have sought to get away from this old-fashioned view of doctoral students as specially selected talents closeted away years on end devoted to their lives’ work.” ERIK JOELSSON relates that the

notion that universities and the business world have to compete for the most appropriately qualified research students and offer advantageous conditions is fostered by natural sciences and medicine being the starting point for the Official Reports of the Swedish Government. “Yet, a doctoral degree is not always viewed as particularly positive in industry. Here, to end up with exactly the right sort of employee, there is a preference towards providing on-the-job training.” As early as 1969, there were demands to compress third-cycle education into four years. At the same time, programmes and courses were to be widened, gender equality increased and some emphasis given to including older people who, thanks to their professional

Third-cycle education started to be seen almost as a sort of driving licence … ERIK JOELSSON

Thesis Erik Joelsson is a newly graduated doctor of the theory of science. He defen­ ded his dissertation Från utvald till utbildad – Persona i utredningar om svensk forskarutbildning 1945–2004 (“From selected to educated – Personae in official reports of Swedish third-cycle educa­ tion, 1945 – 2004”) on the 24th of March.

experience, could raise new issues. The pendulum swung back in the 1980s and the demand for excellence once again increased. Third-cycle education was further professionalised. Being a doctoral student should increasingly be like any other job. “IN MY DISSERTATION, I used the term ‘personae’ to designate the various conceptualised types of doctoral students. Via the ‘research persona’ of the 70s and 80s, we have gone from the pre-war ‘learning persona’ to the ‘innovator persona, of recent times.” In 1998, new requirements arrived in respect of, amongst other things, appointment, smoothly functioning supervision, mapped out study plans and good base resources. “Third-cycle education started to be seen almost as a sort of driving licence that qualified the holder to undertake further research.” In 2004, Swedish higher education was adapted to the Bologna system. However, Erik Joelsson explains that third-cycle education was an exception. Instead of being compressed into three years, it remains at four. “Thus, the accelerated programmes that were already sought in 1969 have not come about. A doctor’s degree still requires a five-year master’s programme and then four years as a doctoral student.” The appointment requirement also means that third-cycle education has become quite expensive.

That is why it has become even more important to only employ people who truly are well-prepared, motivated, independent and extremely able to complete projects. “The result is that ever fewer doctoral students, especially foreign ones, are being appointed. This means that research teams have grown smaller and more homogeneous. People who are admitted are subjected to immense pressure to successfully complete their programmes. On the other hand, much better care is now being taken of doctoral students.” Erik Joelsson summarises that the bar for getting into third-cycle education has been raised much higher, but is lower as regards emerging at the other end. “PERSONALLY, I think it’s a pity that

more people don’t have the chance to try a semester of third-cycle education to see if it might interest them. One proposal would be to compress the programme into three years, exactly as per the Bologna Agreement. This could be done by making some of the course elements a part of master’s programmes, allowing master’s students to take part in high-level seminars and also, perhaps, removing course elements that are not relevant to the dissertation subject. If master’s students are given tasters, perhaps more would be interested in third-cycle education. It would also be easier to opt out if the chosen programme proves not to be really what had been hoped for.”s

In brief Before World War II, third-cycle education was all about personal learning with no particu­ larly pronounced societal benefit. It was possible primarily for males with good financial resources. As a result of the “Uni­ versity and University College Commission” of 1963 and the subsequ­

ent reform of 1969, thirdcycle study courses and programmes became four-year and supervi­ sors acquired greater im­ portance. Bursaries and appointments became more usual. The reform of 1998 in­ volved a further sharpe­ ning of requirements in respect of finance, super­

vision and study plans. In 2002, the requi­ rement of safety in the form of an appointment returned. The “Higher Education Investigation” of 2004 emphasised the impor­ tance of third-cycle edu­ cation that generates growth, innovation and excellence. MAY 2017 GUJOURNAL



Easier to publish in Swedish It is now even more attractive for researchers in the humanities and the social sciences to publish via Kriterium. This platform has now been included in the so-called “Norwegian list”. “Inclusion is recognition of Kriterium maintaining high quality and facilitating continued publication of academic books,” reveals Maja Pelling, university librarian.

ISBN 97891-8 8168


graphs in a minor language such as Swedish, finding a ‘point scoring’ outlet is difficult, especially if the works are in a narrow field,” states Åsa Arping, chair of the editorial board. “Kriterium is a way for these researchers to publish their texts 9 789 188

ww w.nord

168 276


Nordic Academic Press P.O. Box 1206 SE-221 05 Lund, Sweden

Sensitive Objects Affect and Material Culture Daniel Löv heim är idé historiker ­ och verksam som univ ersitetslekt or i pedago gik vid Sto ck­ holms univ ersitet.

The editors hope that this will be read across discipRebook kry tering till teknik work, lines, not only to promote the value of ethnographic och natur under sve vet but also to encourage theoretically informed creative nskempiriefterkrigstid enskap cal approaches to affect and material culture.

Contributors: AN N E B R ITT FLE M M E N

UiT, The Arctic University of N JONAS FRYKMAN

Lund University, Sweden N I LS G I LJ E

University of Bergen and Unive College of Oslo and Akershus, N


Agderforskning, Kristiansand, N


Agderforskning, Kristiansand, N STE F JAN S E N

University of Manchester, UK

Naturve ingenjöre tarna, valfrihete rna och ns samhä lle

The volume is a contribution to the upcoming field of affect research that has so far has been mainly explored in psychology and cultural studies. In their texts the ethnologists and anthropologists involved show how established ways of analysing culture benefit from achievements in this field. They use fieldwork to examine how people project affects onto material objects and explore how objects trigger affects.


Agderforskning, Kristiansand, N B R ITT KRAMVIG

UiT, The Arctic University of N ORVAR LÖFG R E N

Lund University, Sweden SANJA POTKONJAK

University of Zagreb, Croatia


Malmö University, Sweden


Cover design: Cia Björk, PCG Malmö, Sweden Cover photo: ‘Red’ by Igor Osreˇcak, Croatia



“FOR RESEARCHERS writing mono-

Nordic Acad emic Pres Box 1206 s 221 05 Lund www.nor dicacade micpress .com


Affect and Material Culture

Omslags bild: Nob elpr professo r Hugo Theo istagaren demonst rell rera för deltagar r en molekylmod ell e vid Berz dagarna på Tekniska elius­ (Foto: okän museet 1956 d/Presse . ns Bild/ Tekniska museet)


ome objects stand out as personal and important to us. A packed suitcase, an inherited vase, the remains from a humanitarian aid package – things can induce affects. In Sensitive Objects the authors focus on material culture and on practice – on what affect does. Some of them place the issue of sensitivity in a wider frame of professional interest in innovation and culture-tourism.

lfriheten s samhälle



Foto: Anna

Per Idbo

eva borgström


Sensitive Objects


En återkom mande pro efter 195 blembild 0­talet är det otillräck i svensk utbildnings för naturvet politik liga intress enskapliga et bland välfärdssam och tekn ungdomar iska yrken. hällets stän Det moder och natu digt ökande rvetare har na behov av sälla motsvarigh ingenjörer et i tillström n ansetts ha en bet ryg ningen till utbildninga gande I Nat rna. urvetarn Sensitive Objects is published with the a, inge njör a Daniel Löv och Agdersupportheim of thevilja researchern institute valfriheten n att kom Genom olik s sam hälle bely ma till rätt a in Kristiansand, Norway. forskning ser a med pro påverka ung insatser har man blemet. från samhäll a att välja ets sida förs undervi naturvet Thesnin volume is an edition from ens ökt gsmeto der och stud kap och teknik. det ta Nordic syfte. Sat Läroböcker, Academic Checkpoint ievägled sningarPress läromiljöer har även gjorts ning har anpassa – a series dedicated to peer-reviewed na där ts för uta tävl nför de trad ingar och och i före verksam ningIt is also published ition books. within the heter propagand ar har utformats på museer ella a. att spri framework of Kriterium, a för quality hall-da en slags pos itiv mark for Swedish academic books, with Samtidig t har sam hället i allt elevernaISSN 2002-2131. högre gra ska få gör d strävat a ett själv liberala dem efter att ständigt okratins publications valpeer av självbild undergo valfrihet All Kriterium betonar vikt utbildning. Den och ans trän review according to set guidelines, and are en gnin naturvetens av individu garna att kap as open ell rekr yterata teknaccess idéer. Lövavailableoch ungdomar ik har publications tidvis koll heim visa till iderat med r tyd båda mål des en samtidig ligt på svårighete rna att upp sa t. fylla

Begär mellan kvinnor i svensk litteratur 1900–1935

rna, inge njörerna och va


Maja Pelling, convener of Kriterium’s steering group. The Norwegian Centre for Research Data has approved Kriterium’s application to be incorporated in the so-called “Norwegian list”. This means that books that have received Kriterium’s quality stamp are recognised to be of high academic quality. As the majority of faculties at the University of Gothenburg are dependent on the Norwegian list for fund allocation, this approval means that Kriterium is now even more attractive as a publication channel.


two aims: creating a review process for Swedish books that is just as meticulous as that for international articles; and, making published books freely accessible via the internet (open access). “The process is that, when a publishing company or a text series wishes to publish a manuscript, it contacts us. An academic, who is always at least a reader, is appointed to be in charge. This person then appoints two independent expert reviewers who read the text, point out its strengths and weaknesses and suggest changes. All the work in the review process is documented, archived and, eventually, made freely accessible. If the manuscript is of sufficiently high quality, it is approved for publication in Kriterium’s open-access series and the text series or by the printing house” explains

om det förbjudna

This means that books that have received Kriterium’s quality stamp are recognised to be of high ­academic ­quality


LAUNCHED IN 2015, Kriterium has


Nordic Aca

University of Zagreb, Croatia demic Pres



University of California, San Di

ISBN 978-91-87675-66-9

9 789187 675669

Books approved by Kriterium.


Edited by Jonas Frykman & Maja Povrzanovic´ Frykman

University of Texas, Austin, US




with the benefit of a review process that is of the same high quality as that for an article seeking to go into an academic journal. Not least important is that Kriterium enables the writing of books to continue – not all research fits into the social sciences inspired publication culture of numerous, but short, articles.” ANNIKA OLSSON, director of the Nordic Academic Press publishing house, points out that the reviewers’ participation is enormously important. “Reviewing, sending texts back for processing and then final assessment takes time. However, the final product will have grown and the researcher, the publishing house and the department certainly all want the result to be as good as possible. We are pulling in the same direction.” For the time being, Kriterium wants to grow slowly reveals Åsa Arping. “The important thing is not quantity but creating a really good structure for reviews and for collaborations between authors and publishing houses. Yet, eventually, when we have found what is right for us, Kriterium could grow very large.

Kriterium in brief Kriterium entails a new ­quality review and free acces­ sibility of Swedish academic books, mainly in the huma­ nities and social sciences. It also brings collaboration between the universities of Gothenburg, Lund and Uppsa­ la as well as the Swedish Re­ search Council, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the N ­ ational Library of Sweden and the Nordic Academic Press and Makadam publishing houses. The host is the University of Gothenburg. Thus far, Kriteri­ um is a pilot project. The hope is that there will be a perma­ nent structure and ­f inance from 2018.

- Kriterium is a quality mark, says Maja Pelling. Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG

THERE IS YET another level on the Norwegian list that confers an even higher stamp of quality. “However, at present, this isn’t something for Kriterium. Our approach is that you either have a quality review or you don’t. Conversely, work is being done both on a Swedish list and on a joint Nordic list – there are certain problems with following a list primarily devised for Norwegian conditions.” EVA LUNDGREN MAY 2017 GUJOURNAL




“I want to become a vet. These studies are a first step,” explains Lujain Tellawi, who has just graduated from an upper-secondary school in Syria.


Two years ago, the preparatory course in Swedish for foreign academics was axed. It has now returned in a partially new form. “It has been extended to three semesters and no longer requires any prior knowledge of Swedish. The number of applications per place has been very high and it is clear that the course meets a substantial need,” reveals Carina Carlund, director of studies. Text: EVA LUNDGREN Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG




“Intonation, pronunciation, grammar... We practice everything. That’s very good,” stresses medical practitioner Ahmed Aledl.


what is acceptable under Sweden’s Higher Education Ordinance has meant a great deal of work. The 29 students started in January. Even if most of them had managed to learn quite a bit of Swedish when first arriving as refugees, the new course in Swedish for academics really has no admission requirement as regards knowledge of languages.

“STUDENTS STUDY for four hours,

four days a week,” states Carina Carlund. “The course is demanding and has lots of lessons. Really, it’s a question of full-time study. Nonetheless, as the students are academics, they’re used to a hectic pace.” There is also a study counsellor linked to the course. “The final semester is run in collaboration with departments matching the students’ previous


specialisations. This means, for example, that medical personnel can familiarise themselves with Swedish terminology in this field. They also get support as regards how they need to widen their vocabularies.” BECAUSE CARINA Carlund believes that language learning has to take its time, she avoids the term “fast track”. Nevertheless, the idea is that this relatively short course should give upper-secondary level competence in Swedish. “One dream is to be able to offer these students a complete preparatory package, with both Swedish and English. They could then be directed onwards to ‘Foreign teachers’ further education’ (ULV) or other study courses and programmes. However, we haven’t got that far yet. Still, simply being in an academic environment, having the

opportunity to meet other students and knowing that you are on the way to a goal is beneficial for these people. They would otherwise have a precarious existence.” When the previous course for foreign students was axed in 2015, the University of Gothenburg lost the right to give the Test in Swedish for University Studies (Tisus). Passing this test is a precondition of entry to university studies. “We have contacted the Tisus group and announced that we would like to be certified again. Regardless of how this goes, students who pass our final test will still have university level competence in Swedish. FOUR TEACHERS ARE working on the course: Kerstin Larsson Tannerud, Clara Palm, Emma Carlfjord and Britt Klintberg. “Most students come from Syria,

Summer course for newcomers Elizabeth George (project mana­ ger for the University of Gothen­ burg’s refugee coordination initi­ atives) answers three questions on the University’s plans for a pilot run of a summer school for new arrivals to Sweden.

Abdulrazek Iyansoud, an auditor from Syria, has already attended a Swedish for immigrants (SFI) course. “It was quite chaotic, with a stream of different teachers. This course is far more structured. It has a proper teaching team, which you can always turn to, and a much faster pace.

but we also have a person from Finland, India, Iran, Palestine, Greece and the USA, explains Kerstin Larsson Tannerudone. All the students are very helpful and, if someone really doesn’t understand, translate to, for example, Arabic.” LECTURER CLARA Palm discloses

that the course also involves a collaboration with trainee teachers in Swedish as a second language. “It’s a question of, amongst other things, the pronunciation and text analysis elements in their course and of tests for various oral exercises. In the long term, we hope to be able to collaborate even more with trainee teachers.” Besides the course itself, the students will also be engaged in various research projects. Trainee teachers will be involved in these too. As yet, there are only 29 students

The course in brief The course in Swedish for acade­mics with a foreign back­ ground lasts three semesters. It invol­ ves, amongst other things, a colla­ boration between the Department of Swedish, other relevant depart­ ments at the ­University of Go­ thenburg and the University’s coor­ dination group for refugees.

on the course, but the intention is that a new session should begin in spring 2018. “WE’RE STARTING A little carefully, but hope that, in the future, new courses will be given each semester,” comments Carina Carlund. “I hope that the Higher Education Ordinance will be overhauled so that it provides better support when arranging various preparatory programmes, e.g. for academics with a refugee background. In this way, we could make it easier for these people to assimilate into society without wasting too much time waiting. They have so much expertise, so many new perspectives and so much experience that can enrich our society. It would be a shame not to capitalise on, and learn from, this.” s

Why do you want to have a ­summer school? “We know that new arrivals and refugees have difficulties entering higher education. If we do nothing, we risk missing out on the potenti­ al of highly educated people. This summer school is aimed at people considering higher education. The idea is that, amongst other things, the week should give an overview of academic studies and increase knowledge of applications, admis­ sion and entry requirements.” Why should the faculties offer ­ a half-day? “There is a massive need. For the faculties, this is a unique oppor­ tunity to show off their offerings and, in the long run, attract new students. It’s a question of broader recruitment. It’s also an important initiative. A little effort that may give enormous returns.” When will you know if the plans are to be put into practice? “The final response date is the 15th of April. We will then know if the school is to happen. Both the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts and Sahlgrenska Academy immediately said they were interested.” TEXT:ALLAN ERIKSSON PHOTO: JOHAN WINGBORG




Homework makes youths grow It is 17:00 on an ordinary Thursday. Several classrooms in the Pedagogen building are just beginning to fill with talkative youths of secondary-school age from the Biskopsgården suburb of Gothenburg. However, they are not here for an exciting leisure activity. The attraction is Läxhjälpen (“Homework Help”) a project in which volunteers help young people with mathematics, Swedish and English. Text: EVA LUNDGREN Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG

GIRMA BERHANU, newly qualified

professor of special needs education, started Läxhjälpen two years ago. The project is a collaboration with the Svartedalsskolan school and revolves around supporting pupils so that they can move on to the upper-secondary level. Yet Girma Berhanu’s ambitions are even higher than this. “Before, a place’s natural meeting point was its church. This is no longer the case. My idea is that the school could be a new gathering point, not just for the pupils, but for the entire community. School activities can be expanded to take in associations, congregations and various networks. Charismatic adults can then serve as models for the area’s adolescents. The school could become a secure extra home for a city district’s young people.” Girma Berhanu is of the opinion that, for the individual and for entire countries, schooling’s importance can hardly be overestimated. He himself was born in an Addis Ababa slum. He had five siblings, a severe father and a mother who could barely read and write. “Yet, it was her fight for her children’s education that I have to thank for me now being a professor. Despite great poverty, all six of her children educated themselves and became successful. That is why,


when there are such marvellous opportunities to do something good in Sweden, it grieves me that young people here waste their time on crime and other bad things that will hold them back in the future.” Suburbs are often described as riddled with problems. However, Girma Berhanu points out that everything depends on what you want to see. “I recently visited the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Bergsjön. Although its resources are small, it does fantastic work with the young people there. Everyone is always talking about a lack of money, but the important thing is committed people.” This is why Läxhjälpen is also a project for those who would like to contribute (e.g. in the ongoing refugee situation), but who do not really know how they can do this. “SEVERAL OF THE teachers in the

project are retired professors from the University of Gothenburg or Chalmers. Some are trainee teachers or have a different background. Sweden isn’t so good when it comes to charitable ventures. People rely on the state or the municipality to take care of all problems. Yet, there are lots of good people who want to help others.” Girma Berhanu feels that Sweden is also not so good as regards adult

Läx­ hjälpen The Läxhjälpen project was star­ ted in 2015 by Girma Berhanu, newly qualified professor of special needs education, and is run in the Peda­ gogen building on Thursdays from around 17:00 to 20:30. It involves, amongst other things, a colla­ boration with the Svartedalsskolan school in Biskops­ gården. A large number of volun­ tary teachers are also involved. Most of the pupils are from Svarte­ dalsskolan, but everyone is welco­ me, regardless of school or needs.

responsibility. Problems are allowed to go altogether too far before anyone takes action. “I know one of the teachers of the youths who are now in prison for the murder at the restaurant on Vårväderstorget two years ago. It was clear that these boys had long had serious problems. After all, people don’t become criminals overnight. Adults have the responsibility to act when something isn’t right. Instead, people waited here. This is a betrayal on the part of the adult world.” “Empowerment” is a word for which Girma Berhanu cannot find a good Swedish equivalent. It denotes giving people power over their situations. “Empowerment is the ultimate goal of Läxhjälpen. People must feel that what they do means something and that they have the power to change the world.” So far, Läxhjälpen is just a test activity. Girma Berhanu’s goal is to make it permanent. “That universities visit various schools is important. However, the idea is to also let secondary pupils come to the University’s Pedagogen building. This is partly about demystifying higher education. Despite my simple background, I’m a professor here and am thus an example that everything is possible. Nonetheless, it’s also important to get the young people to come out of the suburbs and meet other people, not least other adults. A Somali girl told me that, it feels like she is entering another world each time she crosses the bridge over the Götaälv river. For people to learn that they have homes here too is one of the points of Läxhjälpen.”s


School from dawn to dusk The pupils come from two schools, Svartedalsskolan and Toleredsskolan in Hisingen. After a full school day, they still have the energy to study a few hours more at Pedagogen. FAHDI is in her eighth year of

schooling. She has just sat at a desk to read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Reading literature is part of the Young Storytellers project in which young people in the Biskopsgården suburb are to write about what living in Gothenburg is like. Eventually, their work is to be made into a book. “I like Austen’s style. However, I don’t want to be a writer, but a programme host on TV.” Stephanie and Khaaid are in

Girma Berhanu Work: Newly ­qualified professor of special needs education. Origin: Addis ­Ababa, Ethiopia. Lives: In Kungälv. Interests: ­Meeting people and reading.

their ninth years and are busy with geometry. “I like maths, but not when I don’t understand it,” says Stephanie. “For me, studying is important as I want to be a paediatrician or, perhaps, a nurse.” “I love training and dancing. Unfortunately, that takes quite a lot of time from schooling,” explains Khaaid. “That’s why I’m here. I want to succeed in my studies too.” SOME THIRTY PUPILS have sat down

at the desks. On a table, there is a thermos of coffee, some packets of juice and a bag of sandwiches. Girma Berhanu thinks it is important that the young people also get something to eat. Before the help with homework, there is a presentation.

This time it is Mira Baumann of the Nordost police force speaking about her work and the requirements it imposes. MOST PUPILS STOP until Läxhjälpen closes at 20:30. They have then been in school for a very long time and are almost worn out. So are the teachers too. “I admire Swedish teachers who manage to teach teenagers all day long,” reveals Girma Berhanu. “It’s very intense work. There’s a lot happening. Having a little fun makes things easier though. I usually point out that the pupils speak better Swedish than I do. Who knows, they may also one day be better professors than I am!”




The brave new world of IT


“Sell your darlings” could be Alexandra Weilenmann’s slogan for the retro shop she runs from her home in Björkekärr. This is where she sells objects­she has bought from flea markets. Although she clearly likes these things, she realises that she does not have room for them. Her everyday work centres on research into communication using mobile technology. Text: EVA LUNDGREN Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG




T THE DOOR TO Alexandra Weilenmann’s basement,

there is a large “R” logo. It stands for Villa Retro, the small shop she runs from her home. The place is full of all sorts of stuff – coffee cups, jewellery, ornaments and, just now, a few Easter decorations. “I like round things and objects that other people might call ‘ugly’ – for example, mugs with a brown-beige glaze and strange shaped vases. Daring to challenge your tastes is more fun than simply buying polite objects.” Alexandra Weilenmann’s stock has been bought from flea markets all over the place, both in Sweden and abroad. She feels that her interest in odd objects is a creative contrast to her more structured work as a reader at the Department of Applied Information Technology on Lindholmen. It is also a way of having somewhat different contact with colleagues. “For example, when I was going to a conference in Glasgow some years ago, my hosts were waiting for me at the airport. The first thing they did was to drive me quickly to an antiques shop they thought I would like. We had to get there before it closed, which of course, very considerate of them.” drops in at Alexandra Weilenmann’s home, she is taking a breather after submitting two new research applications, one to the Swedish Research Council and one to the EU. The first is in respect of the possibilities for newly arrived refugees to learn Swedish via language apps. Older people’s attitudes to technology form the theme of the second. “I’ve done research into technology and the elderly before. The difficulty they can have in pressing mobile buttons quickly enough in the right order is one example. However, this project is about older people who already use mobiles but, because of, for example, poor sight or other problems, find it difficult to maintain their aptitude.” Alexandra Weilenmann has been researching mobile technology since the end of the 1990s, almost as long as the IT faculty has been in existence. She has thus been able to follow the development of the mobile phone from the “yuppie brick” of around 25 years ago to the multipurpose tool an ever increasing number of people have in their pockets today. “The mobile phone was first envisaged as an effiAS GU JOURNALEN


cient office tool that would, for example, make it easier to work on trains. At the start of the 1990s, the major issue was how documents could be faxed and printed from mobiles. Conversely, the social aspect was seen as entirely irrelevant.” NONETHELESS , it was exactly this everyday use of technology that interested Alexandra Weilenmann when she was a doctoral student. How young people talked over their mobiles on the bus, in cafés or while travelling to Liseberg (Sweden’s largest funfair) was one of the things she studied, together with Catrine Larsson. They seemed not to be at all interested in the efficiency of conversation, but in how technology facilitated social contact and socialising. “My results attracted attention and, amongst other things, I was invited to lecture at Eriksson.” Even if Alexandra Weilenmann is researching something as new as mobile communication, this is still something that can be used in activities that humans have been carrying out for ages. For example, she has studied how mobile phones are used in hunting. Along with colleagues Thomas Hillman and Beata Jungselius, she has also investigated how museums use modern technology in their exhibitions. “MUSEUMS ARE providing ever more apps, audio guides and virtual experiences. Another development that is at least as exciting is that many museums today, instead of prohibiting cameras (as was often previously the case), are encouraging visitors to take photos and to share them. Amongst other things, we’ve studied how visitors to the Swedish Museum of Natural History and to Universeum publish their mobile pictures on Instagram. Often, they pick out those that interest them and, in this way, create new collections that they subsequently share – for example, a roll of photos featuring felines or a horror album of frightening objects. This, of course, is great fun, even if there is a certain risk that people become so involved in Instagramming that it becomes more important than the experience offered by the exhibition or other activity.” Not only in museums, but also in schools, “bring your own device” has become an ever more common



Alexandra Weilenmann is practising the art of saying no to things she likes.

attitude towards mobiles and tablets. “Mobiles are often seen as a problem in schools and there have been discussions about whether teachers should have the right to confiscate telephones. Yet, Torbjörn Ott, one of our doctoral students, is investigating how some teachers regard the mobile as an asset that can be an advantage in lessons. I think this is a more interesting mindset.” MOBILES ARE ALSO used in the health sector. In recent years, one of the most downloaded apps has been the Headspace meditation platform. Alexandra Weilenmann reveals that there is also demand for apps that provide psychological help or some form of therapy. “Of course, this is problematic. Almost anyone can create an app, without any scientific training whatsoever.” The brave new world in which ever more everyday appliances are linked and can be controlled from a mobile phone is sometimes referred to as the “internet of things”. “Naturally enough, society being increasingly built around modern technology can bring problems. As we so seldom use mental arithmetic, are we going to lose this skill? Is learning from an iPad less good than learning from a physical, paper book? Or are present criticisms mainly a question of nostalgia? Whatever the answers, I believe that, to understand what works, it’s important to test various attitudes to technology. For ex-

ample, certain countries have introduced bans on using mobile phones while driving. However, as people still use their mobiles, perhaps we have to realise that bans are not the right way forward here.” STRESS IS ANOTHER thing increasingly associated with mobile technology. “We have to be able to set limits for ourselves. For example, I’ve decided not to read emails on my telephone. Many people moralise about, for example, parents who let children play games at the dinner table. In the USA, there is a parents’ movement to give children an ‘unplugged childhood’ in which they read real paper books with MAY 2017 GUJOURNAL



their kids. Yet, to show just how skilful they are, they Instagram their book readings. Thus, they’re not entirely ‘unplugged’ after all.” EVEN IF MODERN technology is exciting, Alexandra Weilenmann points out that it is really all about facilitating things that man has always been doing. “We have always had a need to communicate, share experiences, show who we are and receive affirmation. Modern technology just makes it easier and more efficient.” That technology is affecting us in ever more situations is a phenomenon that Alexandra Weilenmann notices even when she is doing something so “untechnical” as going round flea markets. “For example, I have become much better at taking pictures with my phone and I’ve learnt how to build a brand by checking blogs. So, when my sister finds something she thinks will interest me, she quite simply sends a photo. It’s now natural enough, but you couldn’t do it just one decade ago.”

own little shop has also taught her a lot of other things. Being able to let go of things she truly adores is just one of these. “I may have a teapot or coffee cup that I think is extremely fine. However, I realise that someone else might have even more joy from it than I. So, I sell it on. Flea markets are a cheap, environment-friendly and fun way of satisfying an interest in objects. Furthermore, I like the atmosphere. A flea market is a place for the unusual, things that aren’t so mainstream, both objects and people.”s ALEXANDRA WEILENMANN’S


”Funny but resentful” Alexandra Weilenmann Work: Reader in applied IT. Lives: In Björkekärr. Family: Two sons, 12 and 9 years old. Last book read: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit. Last film: Indiana Jones 4 Other interests: Flea markets, the woods, meditation and people. Favourite dish: Chips. Best/worst side: Funny/resentful



Populism is shaking the university world THE REFUGEE SITUATION, digitisation, the benefit of research and broader recruitment are just four examples of the past year’s topics of discussion examined in the report. “Most disquieting is the rise of nationalism and populism. Thus far, neither Trump nor Brexit has had any major tangible consequences. However, the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU has created uncertainty as regards student and research collaborations,” comments Magnus MacHale-Gunnarsson. He, along with Daniel Berlin, analyst at Analysis and Teacher Education, wrote the report that takes the pulse of important events during the year. ACCORDING TO the two analysts, the-

re are signs that the wave of nationalism spreading in many countries is also affecting the university world. The OECD predicts that the western world’s governments will be cutting back their education and research budgets. This could result in a reduction of scientific discoveries. “The United Kingdom can be seen as the EU’s most important and largest research nation. Things will be tough if it leaves the EU. As regards EU applications, there are already teams actively starting to deselect the United Kingdom. However, at heart, the Brexit vote most probably mirrors an even bigger issue regarding reduced faith in universities, knowledge and


Analyst Magnus MacHale-Gunnarsson, one of the men behind a new report on current issues in the world in which academia operates, feels that increasing concern about the rise of nationalism and populism is, right now, a strong, global trend throughout higher education. science,” says Magnus MacHale-Gunnarsson. He also sees an equivalent trend in the business world starting to doubt the ability of universities to better align courses, programmes and research with market needs. HE EMPHASISES that, in discussions

of research policy, the economic and social benefit of research has acquired an ever more important role. “This is quite clearly an international trend. Governments see research as a way of creating growth and jobs. In Denmark, there is great focus on this benefit. There, higher education institutions are being forced to cut back programmes where the work connection is poor or where students do not get a job on gaining their degrees. Furthermore, a strange rule that you can only study one first-cycle programme in your life has been implemented. For many years, it has been the case that those studying part time have to pay for their studies themselves. The message is loud and clear – consider your options carefully, study and then get a job as soon as possible.”


and education is also being emphasised by an increasing number of politicians. Amongst other things, the USA’s National Science Foundation (NSF) now only gives funds

to projects that are in the “nation’s interest”. In Australia, contract research is becoming an indicator in deciding the allocation of research funds and the EU’s research commissioner wants “impact” to have the highest priority in the next framework programme. “A BENEFIT MINDSET pervades the

“A study by Vetenskap & Allmänhet shows that the Macchiarini affair has lowered the public’s faith in researchers,” reveals Magnus Mac­HaleGunnarsson.

The report can be down­ loaded from:


Swedish government’s research bill too. It is very much about collaboration and it exudes a hope that all the money pumped into the system will be good for economic development.” Magnus MacHale-Gunnarsson thinks that the discussion about meeting workforce requirements is not new, but that it has taken on a somewhat new dimension. “There is now much talk about both lifelong and further education – that working people need to develop their expertise and retrain. However, do universities offer what is required?” Magnus MacHale-Gunnarsson points out that digitisation is also not a new trend.

“NO, IT DEVELOPMENT continues to affect higher education in various ways. It is interesting to observe that the hype around massive open online courses (MOOCs) has largely blown over. Nowadays, much revolves around digital tools such as ‘flipped classroom’. This is something that the University of Gothenburg is now expanding on a large scale. The previous MOOC hysteria embodied a blind belief in fully digital courses. Many students still choose to study on campus.” ALLAN ERIKSSON MAY 2017 GUJOURNAL



Difficult events while he was growing up aroused his hate. However, an unexpected meeting with the enemy, while incarcerated in an ­Israeli ­prison, made him see a path to reconciliation. Today, Palestinian­­ ­professor Sami Adwan is a leading peace researcher. He is also the ­­ holder of this year’s Torgny Segerstedt professorship. Text: KARIN FREJRUD Photo: JOHAN WINGBORG

SAMI ADWAN ÄR upUnder the

shadow of Israeli occupation, Sami Adwan grew up in a small village outside Hebron. As a child, he heard stories of how Jews seized the land where his family had lived and owned its orange orchards. His boyhood years were marked by many terrifying events. “Exactly like my friends and neighbours, I suffered horribly. Our houses were searched many times. I was hit by Israeli soldiers and was always scared that I would be shot. We lost our dignity and our identity. A hate that had not been there before grew in me,” he reveals when we meet at the Department of Education, Communication and Learning.

AFTER UPPER-SECONDARY school, Sami Adwan studied first in Jordan and, later on, in the USA. However, the wounds from his formative years were deep. He was so full of hate that he refused not only to attend lectures given by Jewish lecturers,


but also to attend lectures where Jewish students were present. Back in his home country, he joined the Fatah movement, a part of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Owing to his involvement in this latter, he was thrown into an Israeli prison in 1991. “THERE, SOMETHING happened that

turned my world upside down. An Israeli soldier took my side when his superior demanded that I sign the document setting out the imprisoning court’s judgement. It was in Hebrew, which I didn’t understand. The soldier thought it was unreasonable to demand this of me. “I suddenly realised that just because the soldiers all wore the same uniform, they didn’t all think and feel the same. They could not all be tarred with the same brush. I saw that, if we were ever to have peace, we couldn’t continue turning our backs on each other,” explains Sami Adwan.


By showing Israeli and Palestinian children each other’s stories, they gain an insight into how other people think. SAMI ADWAN

This event in the prison made him change course radically. Almost 26 years have gone since he heard the soldier’s arguments. Years that Sami Adwan has devoted to working for peace and dealing with issues touching on democracy and the co-existence of groups on both sides of the conflict between Palestine and Israel. His focus is predominantly on overcoming divisions between children and young people who are living in conflict situations. “There are historic facts. Yet, they can be interpreted and communicated in different ways. I would like children to be entitled to teaching that, besides being open to the


narratives of different groups and to different views, safeguards the equal value of all cultures,” he states. AS AN ELEMENT in his peace work,

he and a colleague wrote a textbook, Side by Side, at the beginning of the 21st century. It portrays the Palestine-Israel conflict from the perspectives of both parties. Each page of the book has three columns. One of these gives the Israeli narrative. Another sets out the Palestinian side. The third comprises empty lines. The idea is that this is where the pupil should enter his or her own story. “It’s a simple idea. By showing Israeli and Palestinian children each other’s stories, they gain an insight

”I like the freedom here” Name: Sami Adwan Age: 63. Work: Vice President for Academic Affairs and associate professor at Hebron University. For the 2016/2017 academic year, holder of the Torgny Seger­ stedt professorship at the University of Gothenburg.

Lives: In Bethlehem ­(currently residing in ­Gothenburg). Family: Wife, six children and six grandchildren (with a seventh on the way). Interests: Walking, going to museums, reading, ­meeting people. About Sweden: I like the freedom here and all the projects I’m working on. After the long winter, I’m looking forward to spring.

into how other people think, feel and live their lives. This is important for changing the conceptions we have of others.” How has the book been ­received? “Internationally, it has attracted a lot of attention and the model has been used in, for example, Macedonia. However, in Israel and Palestine, it has been very controversial and teachers have been threatened with disciplinary measures if they use it. Nonetheless, many teachers have used the model in their lessons.” It is obvious that Sami Adwan is passionate about his work. The words flow and he speaks enthusiastically about all the projects he is involved in, not least those he is focusing on during his present year in Gothenburg as the holder of the Torgny Segerstedt professorship. Sami Adwan is a co-founder of Peace Research Institute in the Middle East (PRIME). He is currently the Vice President for Academic Affairs and an associate professor at Hebron University. During his time in Gothenburg, he is: lecturing on the theme of teaching and peace; running a writing project to increase understanding of pupils in schools in Hisingen and Bergsjön; and, collecting Swedish teaching materials to study how the Israel-Palestine conflict is presented. “Sweden recognised Palestine as an independent state in 2014. I want to see how this is reflected in school books and on maps. Is the picture neutral and objective? Or is it onesided, depicting a single version?” What is your view of the future? “It is a turbulent and uncertain time, not least with what is happening in the USA and the Middle East. I still hope that the world’s leaders will come to the realisation that everyone has a right to be free and must be allowed to be free. I cannot be free before you are free and your freedom is dependent on mine.”s



GU-Journal 2-2017  

The abridged version of the University of Gothenburg staff magazine, GU Journal. Welcome to the spring issue of the re-designed magazine whi...

GU-Journal 2-2017  

The abridged version of the University of Gothenburg staff magazine, GU Journal. Welcome to the spring issue of the re-designed magazine whi...