no 5 | october 2013
nnro 23 | | ampay r i l22001 4 12
UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG
Full speed ahead for newly appointed professor Jonas Ivarsson studies how knowledge arises in professional activities MANY WITHOUT TENURE
Four out of ten lack secure employment
Ellen Lust departs Yale for GU
The world comes to GU
We can and will influence higher education policy S c i e n ti fi c r e s e a rc h and higher education is receiving increasing attention from policy makers, the general public, and the private sector. This is gratifying, but at the same time also means that more and more people want to participate and influence the activities of the higher education sector. Meanwhile competition for resources and students increases, nationally as well as internationally. Against this background, it is important that we who work at universities and other institutions of higher education articulate together the issues that can contribute to a positive development of the higher education sector and Sweden as a knowledge nation. In autumn 2013, the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF), adopted a program plan describing how universities and other institutions of higher education develop and contribute to sustainable community development. With this as a foundation along with a consensus on the critical issues, we can vigorously pursue higher education policy issues.
on the need for taking a long-term view in the governmental allocation of resources for higher education. The constant change in the number of student slots gives us unpredictable fits and starts. As an example, we received cutbacks in the number of student slots due to “paying students” and inactive students, but even before this was implemented, a hasty decision was made that we would get an additional approximately 10,000 places, primarily for teacher training. That we take our social responsibility for the need for skills and expertise is a given, but the lack of longrange planning complicates things. There is also a consensus that the public resources for education and research should be given as one single subvention. That the Government of Sweden will have a number of bases of calculation associated with responsibilities both for research and teaching is natural, but like the situation in most other countries, we should be free to manage the resources within the framework of our responsibilities. This would be in line with that research and higher education must go hand in hand, and that higher education should be based on scientific grounds. Furthermore, within the higher education sector there is strong support for the position that we should be able to have a balance between resources coming in and our operating expenditures over the course of a year. T h e r e i s a co n s e n s u s
T h e st r e n gt h o f b e i n g a united sector became clear regarding a fundamental issue – the evaluation of the quality of our educational program. The current system for quality assessment of higher education has been criticised not only by all Swedish institutions of higher education. It has also led to Sweden being suspended from the
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European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), which aroused some astonishment internationally. All of the country’s Vice-Chancellors along with the Chairperson of the Swedish National Union of Students (SFS) recently signed a debate article published in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, where we invited others to participate in a dialogue on a new system of evaluation. It is probably the first time I’ve seen a united sector go out with a common message at the same time. A program platform that a few days later was followed by the Swedish government establishing two different official investigations related to the issue. T h e r e a r e o f co u r s e many ways to exert influence, and many different venues for advocacy. One of the biggest and most talked about is the annual Almedalen Week. With autumn’s general election in sight, this year Almedalen Week is expected to be especially significant. Instead of each educational institution bringing up “their” questions, we have together collectively decided on a specific higher education policy day, Wednesday the 2nd of July. Then we – with SUHF as the sender – will have a common program where we highlight four key questions:
• The resource allocation system • Increased autonomy • Educational program, knowledge and matching • Gender equality and diversity It is hoped that the higher education policy debate that we choose to conduct will be reflected in a future university government bill to the Riksdag. The objective of this must be a long-term plan for research and higher education.
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Jonas Ivarsson Photo: Johan Wingborg
GUJOURNAL 3 | 2014
From the Vice-Chancellor
2 GU influences higher education policy. news
4 Still high proportion with limited-term positions. 6 Anne Farewell soon becomes the first at GU to give a MOOC course. 7 Working group proposes that GU invest 2 million kronor in MOOC. 8 Our political scientists managed to recruit a top researcher from Yale.
9 Dehumanising ideology is taking over the universities.
She is ready for the world
9 300 million kronor for global societal challenges.
Anne Farewell already has a MOOC in her head.
10 New environmental policies. 12 Students from all over the world.
13 Fredrik Bäckhed on The Art of Testing Out a Creative Hypothesis. 14 Aant Elzinga and Anders Larsson in Following the Tracks of Inquisitive Swedish Artic Adventurers 16 Clemens Cavallin talks about his exchange
semester at a liberal arts college in the US. profilen 18 Jonas Ivarsson, the new Professor of Education, examines how new knowledge is formed at hospitals.
Education at work Jonas Ivarsson examines how professionals learn new methods.
From Tanzania to Sweden
Elizabeth Robinson teaches natural resources economics.
American report Clemens Cavallin has good experiences from a liberal arts college.
Now in English The Polar Portel has finally been translated.
Editor’s box: There is a silent revolution going on IN A P RIL the ST trade union arranged an interesting discussion night along the theme “new public management” or what has been called the silent revolution. Lars Karlsson of the Department of Public Administration asserted that it has become more important to reach goals than to establish a good enterprise or activity. The constant observation and examination leads to increased distrust – yet we know that faith and trust in others is the basis for a good society. Jens Stilhoff Sörensen, who is one of the founders of Academic Rights Watch, said that universities have gotten
themselves into a crisis of values crisis, unprecedented over the past 100 years. We are in a “discursive prison,” observes Stilhoff Sörensen, where it’s hard to imagine anything else. Judging by the discussion afterwards, most of the audience were very critical of the ideology, and there seems to be an anger rage over all these continuous evaluations and tasks put on the shoulders of teachers. But no one could offer any constructive suggestions of what could actually be done. The debate easily becomes one-sided if there is no one who can formulate any alternatives.
A r e o u r r e s e a rc h e s seen as merely a financial burden? asks Ibo Ortgies, researcher at Göteborg Organ Art Center. During the ten years he has been at GU he has had twenty temporary positions. His situation is not unique though. Every fourth researcher and lecturer at the University of Gothenburg has an insecure employment. In another article in this issue, professor Fredrik Bäckhed says “In order to be creative, one needs to feel safe”. Apparently, our University has a long way to go before our researchers and teachers can feel the security they need to do a really innovative job.
In this issue, we also call attention to the proposal to invest in MOOC courses at GU. Anne Farewell, who very well may soon become a pioneer, does not regard MOOC as a threat to our regular courses, but rather sees it as a new tool work with in the development of teaching methods. We think it will be interesting and worthwhile to follow the developments. Happy reading!
Four out of ten lack secure Every fourth researcher and lecturer at the University of Gothenburglack the security of a tenured position or indefinitetermemployment, according to a survey GU Journal has conducted. During the past five years, the proportion of limited-term employees has decreased, but there still remains big differences depending upon the faculty. T h e s e a r e n u m b e r s that by no means is unique to GU; this situation in all of the country’s universities and other institutions of higher education looks like this. On the labour market in general, the share of workers with temporary limited-term employment is at about 10 percent. Among teachers and researchers, the levels are sky-high as compared with most other professions. One of them is jellyfish researcher Lene Friis Møller who has held, since 2007, a number of various positions at GU; first two years as a postdoctoral fellow and then four years as a research assistant. For eight months, she additionally was employed on a project as EU coordinator for a research project. “After my time as a research assistant, I suddenly ended up in a vacuum. There was no plan for what would happen afterwards. I really wanted to continue on at GU, but there are no positions to apply for, and the only chance I have to stay is if I receive research funding. This past year, she only managed to get a job teaching a few hours a week. “I was forced to live on unemployment insurance benefits. Meanwhile, I was looking elsewhere for both a job and research funding.” Ibo Orgies is a researcher at GOArt. During the ten years he has been at GU, he has had about twenty temporary positions, the shortest was 23 days. In 2009, he received his long-term position, but only at 40 percent. “I have always had to find a fill-in job at at least 20 percent from other employment in order to survive financially. A consequence of this system is that you are completely dependent on your bosses. In this neoliberal world, researchers are regarded as a risk, a financial burden.” Other colleagues GU Journal spoke with confirm the picture of
the uncertain situation for many teachers and researchers. There are great possibilities to combine different forms limited-term or temporary contracts. In addition to fixed-term contracts and substitute positions, universities can make use of Higher Education Regulation and collective bargaining in order to offer a position as a postdoctoral fellow for two years and then as a research assistant for an additional four years. T h at t h e r e i s no upper limit is something that been severely criticised by the EU Commission. A report was published last year by the Swedish Association of University Teachers (SULF) with the provocative title: “Oh my gosh! It seems that the worst thing that can happen is that a university actually thinks hiring someone for an indefiniteterm...”. The SULF survey shows that the proportion of limitedterm employees (converted to full-time equivalents) was 33 percent in 2012 among teachers and researchers at the country’s universities and other institutions of higher education.
»In this neoliberal world, researchers are regarded as a risk, a financial burden. Ibo Ortgies The report states that the uncertain situation in terms of employment is not only a concern for the individual, who gets weaker social protection, but also a problem in terms of quality for research and higher education. Studies also show that workplaces with many limited-term or temporary employees leads to a poor work environment, stress and lack of a feeling of security. S ULF wa n t s to halve the number of limited-term and temporary jobs. It is a goal that Martin Selander, chairperson of the Saco (Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations) at GU, fully endorses.
“The administrators at the top can encourage the faculties to dare to give tenure and employ people for an indefinite-term. We will be living on external financing for some time to come, so we simply have to learn to live with the uncertainty and deal with it. That the state’s cookie is small but sure, is not the reality anymore.” “It is a positive thing that it is going in the right direction, but we are at an all too high level,” continues Martin Selander. “The argument that a university is a special enterprise really does not hold. Stefan Schedin, Chairman of the Swedish Union of Civil
Servants, also thinks that things are going far too slowly. “This is an alarmingly high percentage. At this rate it will take 30 years before the higher education sector is in line with the labour market in general. Actually, it should be in the employer’s interest to hire on an indefinite-term basis, which provides an additional continuity in the operations, and less bureaucracy.” A n ot h e r p ro b le m is that many limited-term and temporary workers have a lower emotional involvement in the organisation they are working in, according to Stefan Schedin. He believes that the institution administration does not dare to budget for future external funding in order to avoid the risk that accompanies fixed costs. There is also a concern that it would be difficult to lay off staff. But that’s not
GUJOURNAL 3 | 2014
employment photo: Johan Wingborg
What i s fixed -term em ploym ent? It is a collective term for time-limited or temporary employment. The general rule, according to the Swedish Employment Protection Act (LAS), is that one’s employment is for an indefinite-term colloquially it is usually called permanent employment. According §5 in LAS, a general fixedterm employment and a substitute position may be for a period of a maximum of two years each during a five-year period. One can thus employed on a temporary basis for a total of four years, if they alternate general fixed-term and substitute employment. If the employment exceeds the time limits, it becomes an indefinite-term (permanent) employment. That is what is commonly known as being “locked in” or having employment security.
true, according to Stefan Schedin. “Of course, a shortage of work may arise in connection with changes in the activities, but then in such case is important to follow the procedural rules that exist.” For the trade unions, the basic principle is indefinite-term employment. “But that does not mean it’s a job for life,” says Martin Selander. “Increased mobility is positive, but it must not be at the expense of employee security. It is good that there are positions that one can add to their CV, it is not reasonable that these can be stacked upon each other so that it can take up to ten years before one is deemed worthy of receiving tenure or other indefinite-term employment.” A common explanation for why so many are limited to limited-term positions, is that a large part of the research is dependent upon external funding. But Martin Selander thinks that if one can be guaranteed funding
There are various forms of time-limited employment: • general fixed-term employment • employment as a temporary substitute employment until the employee reaches age 67 • employment for a probationary period (for a maximum of six months) Within the higher education sector, there are special rules for visiting professors, adjunct professors, teachers employed in artistic disciplines, as well as for what is referred to as qualification positions for teachers (see below). The same applies to graduate students, teaching assistants, clerical assistants, research fellow, and clinical researchers. In addition, there is a national collective labour agreement dealing with time-
for two years, indefinite-term employment should be prioritised. Even more teachers should be recruited. “There is an over-cautiousness and it is not justifiable that faculties are operating with large surpluses in their educational programme. It is important to have a good long-term planning with its human resources.” Another complication is that the requirement of publically announcing and calling for applications for positions in a competition can sometimes be at odds with the right to be rehired based on prior employment. “It certainly is a difficult question,” admits Martin Selander. “The principle is that one should publically announce the position, but if an individual person has gone for a number of years in a limited-term or temporary employment situation, it is reasonable to say that he or she has gained the skills and experiences, and hence merited to obtain tenure or a similar indefinite-term position. The most important thing is that the process is done properly.” text: Allan Eriksson
limited employment of adjunct teachers (not professors) and postdocs (ordinarily for a maximum of two years, but it may be extended for another two years if there are special grounds). At GU there are two types of qualification positions. These are detailed in Teacher Appointment Regulations for Instructors at GU (which in turn is based on the Higher Education Regulation). 1) Assistant Senior Lecturer (giving provides opportunity to be considered for promotion to Senior Lecturer). 2) Research fellow (which does not provide the same opportunities for promotion). Overall, someone can be employed as Assistant Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow for a fixed-term limited to a maximum of four years.
The research and teaching staff share of those with a limited-term position (%) April 2009 Faculty
share of limited-term %
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Fine Applied Arts
School of Business
7 17 29
April 2014 Faculty
share of limited-term %
Faculty of Science
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Education
Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Fine Applied Arts
School of Business
6 20 23
The data has been obtained from the payroll register and includes all of the research and teaching staff, aside from graduate students. The proportion those with limited-term employment, exluding qualification and postdocs) is currently at 30 percent.
Is the share of limited-term positions at the University of Gothenburg to high? GU Journal inquires of Vice-Chancellor Pam Fredman. My firm belief is that we must work towards achieving a good form of employment. This is one of our best competitive factors as a university, but even more so a quality issue. This means that we should only use fixed-term as a form of employment for the jobs that are unique to the university’s operations, such as doctoral studentships, postdocs and qualification positions. However, it is not intended to stack
various fixed-term positions on top of each other.” “I think we’ve come a long way at GU. That the share of fixed-term positions has decreased is an expression of that the issue has increasingly become a priority within the organisation. The University administration tracks and monitors the developments on an overall level and will raise this issue in different contexts.
The PIL unit has constructed a multimedia studio that is ready to be used for video production. Here we see Anne Farewell testing out the facility’s ”green screen.”
MOOC can stimulate new teaching methods Anne Farewell is a pioneer at GU, and her course on Antibiotic Resistance could be the first MOOC that is given here. “The content for the course is clearly defined in my head. But a great deal of practical work remains to be done.”
course material that works for students throughout the world can probably also be used for courses at their own educational institution.
to give a course, she looked into what MOOC actually was.
A n n e Fa r e w e ll h a s basically finished with developing the content of her course. “The thing that actually took the longest time was finding pictures that were not protected by copyright. There is a lot for the university to further reflect on.” The actual recording of the videos have not begun yet because she does not know as of yet which platform GU will choose, and if the Vice-Chancellor will now give the go ahead for working with MOOC. “The platforms that I think are the most appropriate include Edx, which Harvard and MIT are behind, and FutureLearn, based in England’s The Open University. The FutureLearn lectures are really short, 3-5 minutes, which of course I have to adapt to if we choose them.”
A n n e Fa r e w e ll i s very excited about MOOC and sees the courses as a revolutionary new tool. “But I think neither that the courses are so good that they will replace our existing educational program nor that they will destroy the university as an inexpensive substitute. So I try to take a little bit of an equivocal, calm attitude: I perceive MOOC as a complement or a tool.” As Anne is interested in both teaching methods and technology, with support from the Pedagogical Development and Interactive Learning (PIL) unit she has devoted 10 percent of her working time during the past term, to developing the University of Gothenburg’s first MOOC course. It is going to be about resistance to antibiotics. “ I c h o s e t h i s particular subject for several reasons: First, it is a serious problem that many are aware of if but may not know much about. Secondly, it will be a way to fairly easily sneak in some other biology as well. And finally, as antibiotic resistance is currently so topical, I also expect that it will attract many students.” Before Anne Farewell decided
C stands for “Course.”
“It’s about courses that, for the most part, have a beginning and an end, as well as a defined goal. Students are expected to do tasks and to receive some sort of feedback.” O stands for “Online,” and for “Open.”
“Online courses have been around since about the year 2000. The special feature of MOOC is that students do not need to register at the university or other educational institution that gives the course. The courses are entirely Online; no physical meetings take place. And they are Open so that anyone and everyone can join them, all the course materials are free, and at least in some cases students can start the course whenever they want and study at their own pace. M stands for massive.
“There is no limit to how many students can participate in the courses, as long as the data servers don’t collapse. Feedback occurs automatically or between
»I perceive MOOC as a complement or a tool.« anne farewell
students in different groups, and only rarely directly from the instructor.” What arguments are there speaking in favour of giving a MOOC? Anne Farewell
“This is about Education and Public Outreach, and about recruiting students,” explains Anne Farewell. “Not least in continuing education and in-service training, such as with teachers or nurses, a MOOC course can certainly be effective. But it can also be a way to develop new pedagogical methods because the
A n n e Fa r e w e ll’ s course is supposed to take six weeks to complete. The first week is an introduction. The other five weeks will consist of videos with a quiz (so that each student can make sure he or she is keeping up with the curriculum), as well as hyperlinks, both for those who haven’t quite got it down and need to have some things
GUJOURNAL 3 | 2014
GU goes MOOC explained, and for those who want to go deeper into a particular issue. The course will require about 3 hours of work per week and ideally the student should have at least a secondary school knowledge of biology, but this is not essential. “My ideal time plan looks like this: In May, the Vice-Chancellor makes the decision that GU will give a green light for working with MOOC. During the summer, the videos are produced, August-September is used for a review of the course content and adjustment of things that perhaps do not work out so well. In October, the text of the course is written out in Swedish, and in November: we announce! It will sometime between January and March next year, when things will really get going.” Allan Eriksson & Eva Lundgren
What do you think about the proposal, Kenneth Nyberg? that universities and colleges need to embrace, in a completely new way than in the past, the educational opportunities that digital technology offers, including in the form of “blended ”learning.” But if the goal is to maximise the impact for today’s students at GU, I think that producing our own MOOCs is the wrong way to go. Instead, we should turn the tables and provide greater support to our teachers to develop elements of blended learning in the existing on-campus and distance learning courses.”
” It i s q u it e c le a r
Historian and educator of teachers, blogger at Tidens skiften: http://kennethnyberg.org/
Like many universities, GU is considering investing in MOOC. A working group proposes that GU commit SEK 2 million in 2015, and the expectation is that some courses will be ready by next year. “It’s about putting the University of Gothenburg on the map,” remarks Mats Edvardsson who is on the University’s leadership team and who chaired a working group looking into this. T h e pl a n n e d i n v e st m e n t in SEK 2 million is roughly in line with what both Uppsala University and Lund University are investing. “We have come to the conclusion that we cannot stand outside but rather we have to adjust the phenomenon to our conditions and situation. Our education system is quite different than the Anglo-Saxon system, which is largely based on tuition fees. In addition, the United States has a significant number of private universities. The primary objective for us has nothing to do with profit making motives, but rather it is primarily about marketing and our Education and Public Outreach responsibilities.” T h e fi r st i n stit u ti o n in Sweden to give MOOC courses is the Karolinska Institutet, which will be launching courses this autumn. Lund University, Uppsala University and Stockholm University are in the same starting line-up. Mats Edvardsson thinks that there are several reasons why the GU should invest in MOOC. “The primary purpose is to be a part of the University’s collaborative efforts, the second is that it is part of the University’s international marketing, and the third is to revitalise education by trying out new teaching models. MOOC is part of the digital university version 2.0.” H e st r e ss e s that MOOC is not a substitute for ordinary Swedish higher education and obtaining a degree. “It is something quite different, and when one participates in a course they do not earn any university degree credits. Nor is a MOOC course a regular course that can easily be placed at a particular institution, but rather
“MOOC is all about the next stage of the digitisation of higher education,” observes Mats Edvardsson, who was chairman of a working group which investigated the possibilities producing MOOC courses here at GU.
Presently the study of which supplier and which technology platform to go with continues. “Coursera has the widest range in its offerings, but it also looks to be the most expensive option. What speaks positively about FutureLearn is that they only have courses that are free of charge and that they are part of The Open University UK, in collaboration with the British Museum, British Library and BBC. They also offer credit-earning courses in their offerings.” But we are beginning to run out of time. “We need to be up and run-
»The primary objective for us has nothing to do with profit making motives, but rather it is primarily about marketing and our Education and Public Outreach responsibilities.« it requires a joint cooperative effort between various parties, including the Pedagogical Development and Interactive Learning unit.” But several problems and issues remain, including which teaching platform is suitable, what the infrastructure will look like, and which courses will be offered. The major cost is in developing a course, an estimated SEK 500,000. Then, there is the cost for the license fee, which depends upon the particular teaching platform chosen. T h e t wo b i g participants in the market are Coursera (one hundred universities) and Edx (28 universities). In addition, there is the US for-profit Udacity and the British FutureLearn. But one problem is that companies do not publically disclose what it costs to join. “It is difficult to make an estimate of what it costs, which largely depends on how much we need to engage ourselves in a consortium and how much of the technology we are able to develop ourselves. Nor can we leave teachers in the lurch – but we must be able to give them appropriate support.”
ning before the summer, but first we have to decide on which provider suits us best. Then we have to get the infrastructure in place, or at least some of it.” There is also, according to Mats Edvardsson, an ambition that MOOC courses will become a springboard for further development of new distance learning courses and different teaching models that go under the names of “blended learning” and “the flipped classroom”. Just what particular courses may actually come to fruition, Mats Edvardsson wants to avoid speculating about. “The courses must have a certain popular touch and I think they have to be unique to the University of Gothenburg. Competition is increasing and we need to get better at showcasing what we have. It is all about attracting interested students. We will soon be making a broad announcement where faculties will have the opportunity to prioritise the proposals tht have been received.”
text: Allan Eriksson photo: Johan Wingborg
Ellen Lust comes to GU Professor Lust, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on politics in North Africa and the Middle East, was educated at the University of Michigan, and is currently a professor at Yale. Now, the University of Gothenburg’s political scientists have managed to get Ellen Lust to come here.
all of the world’s political scientists that the University of Gothenburg succeeded in recruiting a top researcher from one of the world’s top universities; it is a sensation. But it is also a feather in the cap for our political scientists. Professor Lust would not have decided to come here if we were engaged with something mediocre.”
E lle n Lu st i s pa r t of the international recruitment efforts of research leaders of the highest order that the Swedish Research Council has been assigned the task by the Swedish Government to provide funds for. For the Swedish Research Council, this means about SEK 131 million over a period of ten years. The University of Gothenburg is contributing an additional SEK 97 million. But what makes a professor from one of the world’s highest ranked universities to want to come to little Gothenburg? ”The Department of Political Science,“ explains Ellen Lust. “There is a whole lot there that impresses me, but mostly it’s about the collaboration between the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) led by Staffan I. Lindberg and The Quality of Government Institute (QoG Institute) which Bo Rothstein is responsible for. But in addition, I hope to get to also know other researchers interested in the Middle East and North Africa, both within the University of Gothenburg and outside of it.”
E lle n Lu st h e r s e lf says that she is honoured by the recruitment and full of enthusiasm to come to Gothenburg. “I hope to contribute to research in Gothenburg and in Sweden, and to support greater understanding of what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the political changes, what the barriers are to good governance and development there in general.” The agreement between the University of Gothenburg and Ellen Lust means that she will be here at least 50 percent. Her salary will be around SEK 100,000 per month and the SEK 131 million from the Swedish Research Council will also go towards hiring postdocs and doctorial students here, and for a number of research activities.
photo: Johan Wingborg
E lle n Lu st h a s no previous personal experience with the University of Gothenburg. But she has had several opportunities to work together in collaboration with Staffan I. Lindberg, including on a project concerning elections and democracy. “In December last year, she was visiting GU,” explains Staffan I. Lindberg. “We did what one does in the United States: showed her around, told her about our exciting research, invited her to dinner ... Then it went really fast. With the invaluable support of Mohammed Belhaj at the Grants and Innovation Office, we submitted an application to the Swedish Research Council the day before Christmas and in April
Ellen Lust here in front of a health clinic in Jordan.
»But it is also a feather in the cap for our political scientists.« Staffan i. Lindberg
we were informed that it was approved.” Within international recruitment, one can not get involved with lengthy peer reviews, explains Staffan I. Lindberg. “No, this has to be avoided, or else the individual will look elsewhere. Regarding Ellen Lust, we were lucky. Ellen wanted to live in Europe in order to get closer to the Middle East and North Africa, which is of course her field of research. For personal reasons, she had just turned down an offer from Oxford University when we came in with a proposal that suited her better. That she studied at the University of Michigan seems as a bonus: it is the US equivalent to GU within the field of political science, in other words it is the leading university in the field questionnaire surveysconducted. Professor Lust has also devoted herself to elections research in
the Middle East and North Africa, particularly women’s participation in elections.” Right now Ellen Lust is primarily engaged in two projects. The first one, Research Projects Program on Governance and Local Development, is an interdisciplinary research programme concerning governing power and local development in the Arab world. Political scientists, sociologists, economists and anthropologists, among others, are active in the project. The second project, Transitional Governance Project, deals with the processes that support decisionmakers’ attempts to establish a better governance. “Her research fits in well with V-Dem, which she will be a part of, but may also be of significance to the QoG Institute,” explains Staffan I. Lindberg. “It will go like wildfire among
Eva Lundgren & Allan Eriksson
Ellen Lust Ellen Lust and the University of Gothenburg’s commitment to toprecruiting. In March 2013, the Swedish Government assigned the Swedish Research Council the task of distributing funds for the recruitment of top international researchers and scientists. The financial support per recruitment is SEK 5–15 million per year and lasts for a period of 7–10 years. Ellen Lust is presently a professor at Yale University, where she conducts research on political governance and political participation in the Middle East and North Africa. Professor Lust has conducted field work in such places as Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Palestine area, Syria and Tunisia. Right now she is mainly involved in two research programmes: Program on Governance and Local Development (GLD) and Transitional Governance Project (TGP). Ellen Lust is the first woman to date recruited in the effort.
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The threat to society Identify the threat, build alliances, and work for change! That is the advice Jens Stilhoff Sörensen and Lars Karlsson gave during a seminar dealing with new public management’s impact on the university and the community at large: bureaucracy and fixation on goals. It wa s t h e Sw e d i s h Union of Civil Servants who had invited members to a well-attended seminar at Artisten in early April. The topic was new public management, or “the silent revolution”. Maciej Zaremba at DN and GU lecturer in Global Studies Jens Stilhoff Sörensen belong among those who have recently accelerated the debate. Last fall, for instance he discussed the threat to the foundations of democracy on the radio program Obs. Just what is new public management? “Basically it’s about a collection of policy instruments which are meant to promote efficiency. It really comes from the private sector, but in the 1980s it became a part of the public administration in the UK,” explains Lars Karlsson, senior lecturer in public administration. “The public sector was considered to be controlled with too many details; now instead it would be guided by goals and results, and create more value for the taxpayer’s money. The catchwords became “market,” “more managers” and even more “measurements”. For as more and more activities are governed by goals, it also becomes increasingly important to measure that these goals are in fact reached. “We get an evaluation society like the one George Orwell pictured. On the street where he lived in London, there are in fact today 32 surveillance cameras.” T h e i d e a wa s that new public management would lead to less bureaucracy. Instead, the precise opposite has in fact occurred. ”Civil servants who are constantly being scrutinised are careful to strictly adhere to the rules,” stresses Lars Karlsson. ”We get a displacement of goals: instead of developing a good business, it becomes important to fulfil the goals. One doesn’t concern themselves with the entirety of the situation, but rather only with the specific small area that is to going be evaluated. And the temptation to cheat increases when the fulfilment of goals is all that counts.”
Jens Stilhoff Sörensen
One example that can illustrate this with police measure in the middle of the day the incidence of those who are driving under the influence, simply because there is more traffic on the roads at that time, rather than on Saturday nights where there certainly is a much greater presence of drunk drivers, but when it would take more work for the police to carry out their investigation. The goal is no longer to take measures against drunk driving, but rather the fulfilment of a certain quota with measurements,” points out Lars Karlsson.
»We get an evaluation society like the one George Orwell pictured.« observation and examination also leads to distrust, for why should one investigate what people are doing if they don’t suspect they are doing something bad? Yet nevertheless we know that trust between people is among the most important thing there is in order to create a good society.” We get a rule by experts, where the anonymous civil servant who formulates the indicators that controls the measurements gets more and more power, at the expense of the elected politician. Jens Stilhoff Sörensen is one of the founders of the Academic Rights Watch, which monitors academic freedom and freedom of expression. He argues that the university is in an unprecedented crisis of value, to the extent that hasn’t been seen in the past 100 years. The collegial decisionmaking has been replaced by a
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reign of the institution head. “A market economy is one thing, what is being implemented now is a market society. This means that all sectors are one market, the market is seen as the premier developer of knowledge and the best processer of information. All parts of society become corrupted to an economic value,” explains Jens Stilhoff Sörensen. New public management creates followers of rules, as that is the only thing that is rewarded – much like in the Soviet Union, he explains. “Hannah Arendt argued that what makes us human is the power of judgment. But new public management dehumanises us because the only thing that matters is the effectiveness in the fulfilment of goals. Skilled professionals are turned into bureaucratic auditors and verifiers, citizens become consumers, and the public sector is reduced to a market.” S o w h at t h e n are the alternatives? According to Jens Stilhoff Sörensen, the question is not so easy to answer as we are now in a “discursive prison” where we can no longer imagine an activity without objectives and results.” “We are in a post-political society as politics is all about being able to imagine that things could be different. And in academia, which serves as a litmus test of how things are going in the society in general, there is no longer any freedom. Collegial governance is allowed, to be sure, but only if management thinks it is okay. But real independence cannot be dependent upon management’s good intentions or being in their good graces.” But Jens Stilhoff Sörensen also pointed out that we are in a unique situation today: a full 40 percent of young people go on to higher education. “There is a huge potential for change. But mobilisation must take place outside the political system, as new public management is going to be voted away. On the other hand, it is useful to build alliances between students and teachers at the university, and also with other professional groups, such as nurses, police, artists, primary school teachers, and many others.”
Eva Lundgren Allan Eriksson
GU takes hold of global challenges In the coming years, some SEK 300 million is being invested in research that falls within the theme “global societal challenges.” If the Board makes the decision in June, it will be a broad announcement, where researchers are invited to submit proposals. T h e i n v e st m e n t is called “UGOT Challenges” and stands for the University of Gothenburg Centre for Global Societal Challenges. “It relies very heavily upon Vision 2020 where the goal is that we will have a quality-driven Stafffan Edén research in an inspiring environment and that the University of Gothenburg will tackle its social responsibilities by being a responsible and global university,” comments Deputy Vice-Chancellor Staffan Edén. The proposal was preceded by months of discussions taking place at the Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council, at the department heads and institution heads meetings, and in the ViceChancellor’s Research Council. “We have jointly developed a unifying principle based on the theme “global challenges” which is based on work looking at the future. But the ideas must come from the ground level and be based on interdisciplinarity and taking into considering the societal challenges that are challenging and relevant.” I n m o n e ta ry t e r m s , it is an investment of SEK 50 million for each of six years; a total of SEK 300 million. There is the issue of new resources as the allowance for faculty grants for research is being increased as of 2016. During the first stage, planning support is being provided to selected research groups which are given time to develop thoughts and ideas that can then be reworked into concrete and well thought out applications that are to be made during 2015. Thereafter, the decision will be made to determine which five to ten projects will be receiving long-term financial support. “The important fundamental points have been to take advantage of the University’s breadth, in order to encourage and stimulate researchers to take their own initiative and as well in order to ensure the quality via an external review. The selected projects must be of high quality and will be evaluated by international experts.” Acco r d i n g to Staffan Edén, the University of Gothenburg has developed its own strategy but also obtained inspiration from other universities such as Lund, Aarhus and Stellenbosch, which have made similar investments in order to create new ideas around a common challenge. The goal is no less than to put the University of Gothenburg on the international map. “To state it concisely, the coming activities are meant to make a difference and be of the highest international standards.”
Allan Eriksson For more information, visit tinyurl.com/UGOTCGSC
Students on the course in natural resource economics. Justice Tei Mensah at the front left.
New environmental policies for the globe Justice Tei Mensah from Ghana says that two key strengths of the University of Gothenburg’s specialization course in natural resource economics distinguish this course from others of its kind: “Recent developments in the respective research fields are included, and the course brings students and lecturers from different parts of the world together.” I n tota l 3 3 st u d e n t s from 15 countries are attending the four specialization courses offered by the Environmental Economics Unit at the Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg during spring 2014. The lecturers come from 9 countries. “To become a good researcher you need a good network. You need to know researchers not only from your country of origin, but from different parts of the world. You also need to know what is happening elsewhere, and link up and collaborate with good researchers from different countries,” says Justice Tei Mensah. In 2012 he applied for the full PhD program in Environmental Economics at the University of Gothenburg, funded by the Swedish International Development
Cooperation Agency (Sida). However due to the admissions process being highly competitive , he was not successful. In the same year he gained admission to pursue PhD studies in Economics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, specializing in environmental economics. A n d s o fi n a lly, when Justice Tei Mensah applied for the five-week long specialization course in Natural Resources Economics at the University of Gothenburg in spring 2014, he was admitted. “My expectations were highly met,” he says and smiles after having completed the exam. “I am now confident in natural resource modeling, and to some extent in policy
design. Among my best experiences is that I’ve also got to know so many people here, not only from Gothenburg but from many different countries.” O b s e rvati o n s , examples and insights from young African scholars might be very different from the ones from Asian and Latin American students. Student diversity in the classroom influences and contributes to discussions in a very positive way, according to Justice Tei Mensah: “The interesting thing is that even among the people from Africa the experiences and examples differ. This course really gives an opportunity to know what’s going on in other parts of the world.” His professional dream is to become a researcher that influences environmental policy in Africa. Justice Tei Mensah also likes being a teacher. He teaches master students in Uppsala sustainable development in a course called Man, Society and Environment. “My goal is to go back to Ghana. Most students from Africa that I meet in Sweden
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»Africa is arguably the most endowed continent in terms of natural resources but very little has been received by the people.« want to return, and it is all about a desire to change something. Africa is arguably the most endowed continent in terms of natural resources but very little has been received by the people,” says Justice Tei Mensah. At the same time, he says, there are lots of environmental issues in Africa, for instance in terms of pollution and disposal of waste. And furthermore, many people in Africa are suffering from climate change effects. “Obviously, these environmental and climate effects are linked to development and economic growth in Africa. If we want development, then it is important that we can design the right policies to be able to manage our natural resources and environmental issues efficiently. J u sti c e T e i M e n sa h praises the lecturers of the Gothenburg specialization courses for teaching at the very front line of their own research fields. As an example he says that the spatial theory and econometrics component of the course was very interesting. “To be able to design effective and well-functioning management policies for
Hence, designing a policy instrument for such a reserve must control for such spatial effects and this is what modelling with spatial effects is about.” Justice Tei Mensah received his Bachelor and Master degrees in Economics from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the University of Ghana respectively. He notes a key difference when comparing his education with the University of Gothenburg, and that is facilities: easy access to lecture notes, text books, journal articles and teaching materials, and all of good quality. When you go to the library in Ghana there are not enough books for all students. It is a bit difficult to buy books in Ghana. There is no funding. Here you get enough funding to support yourself and to buy books.” “Another thing is that most online bookstores do not always accept VISA cards from our part of the world. So, if you don’t find the book in the local bookshop, and in most cases you don’t, you have to go for the old books, and share them.” Finally, when asked if he would like to
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Justice Tei Mensah, PhD student on the specialization course in natural resource economics.
Students from 15 countries and lecturers from 9 33 students from 15 countries are attending the four specialization courses in Environmental and Climate Economics during spring 2014: Chile China Costa Rica Czech Republic Ecuador Ethiopia Germany Ghana India Italy Kenya Sweden Tanzania Vietnam Zambia The lecturers come from 9 countries: Chile: Jessica Coria China: Xiangping Liu Ethiopia: Yonas Alem France: Stefan Ambec Germany: Svenn Jensen Greece: Efthymia Kyriakopoulou Sweden: Håkan Eggert, Daniel Johansson, Martin Persson, Thomas Sterner, Måns Söderbom UK: Elizabeth Robinson USA: Peter Berck, Carolyn Fischer, Kyle Meng
University of Gothenburg’s Environmental Economics Program An excursion to the research station Lovén Centre Tjärnö included a boat trip. Justice Tei Mensah sits in the middle, Thomas Sterner second from right.
nature reserves we must know how to take the spatial dimension into account, and not only the dimension of time.” H e e x p l a i n s with an example. “Let’s say that you have a forest reserve in community X. People living in this community benefit directly from using the forest resources. But, most often the activities of people in the adjoining villages Z and Y also affect the forest directly or indirectly, and often also benefit them. If you then neglect this spatial dimension and control the reserve only from the point of view that community X is benefitting over time, it may be misleading.
add anything, Justice Tei Mensah gently suggests that the number of vacancies might be extended just a little for students coming from developing countries on the PhD program in Global Change and Climate Economics as well as on the specialization courses in Environmental and Climate Economics. “A few more vacancies for students from developing countries will benefit a lot more people.”
From January to June 2014 the Environmental Economics Unit at the Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg offers four Specialization courses in Environmental and Climate Economics: 1. Climate Modelling and Energy Systems 2. Natural Resource Economics 3. Policy Instruments Design 4. Development Microeconomics These courses are given every other year as part of the Sida funded environmental economics capacity building program for sustainable development, which also includes a full PhD program in Global Change and Climate Economics and the Environment for Development initiative, a program and network for cross-country research collaboration, research-policy interaction and academic training www.efdinitiative.org
Climate Economics brings the world to Gothenburg Climate Economics draws students from around the world to Gothenburg During this spring term 33 students from 15 countries will converge on the University of Gothenburg to attend specialization courses in Environmental and Climate Economics. They are taught by lecturers from nine countries. Among them is Elizabeth Robinson from the UK who lived in Tanzania for several years. T h e co u r s e co o r d i n ato r is Thomas Sterner, one of the authors of this year’s UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. “It is very important to offer promising young scholars from developing countries the possibility to acquire the tools they will need to analyze and understand world environmental problems and maybe help represent their governments at international negotiations,” says Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics at University of Gothenburg. Sterner is the only Swedish researcher serving as a coordinating lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 3, Fifth Assessment Report, which was presented in Berlin on 13 April 2014. ”There is a striking asymmetry among countries in the capacity to analyze and deal with joint international problems related to the global commons, like climate change,” says Thomas Sterner. A m o n g t h e co u r s e lecturers from nine different countries (see box) is Elizabeth Robinson, Reader in Environmental Economics at the University of Reading in the UK, and Research Associate at the Environment for Development center in Tanzania. She teaches on the course in natural resource economics. “I think students are attracted to the topic of natural resources because they are so central to many peoples’ lives. In low and middle income countries many people are directly dependent on forestry, fish and land,” says Elizabeth Robinson, and she adds: “For me Gothenburg is great because of the concentration of environmental economists. We speak the same language and I feel intellectually at home here.” Elizabeth Robinson already had an existing relationship with University of Gothenburg through the Environment for Development initiative. Now she is also Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg.
“Okay, managing natural resources is inherently spatial. Policy makers decide where to situate a protected area to protect a forest or a fishery, and how large a buffer zone to introduce. These decisions change peoples’ behavior in a spatial way: It affects where and how far people go to look for and collect natural resources. It also changes the patterns of resources use and resources degradation.” In this research field economists are modelling how people’s spatial decisions change in response to certain policies. The purpose is to predict the impact of policies, and to improve them. T w e n t y y e a r s ag o people in western countries might have perceived some biodiversity value of a forest in Tanzania. Meanwhile, local people had and still have a direct dependence on the same forest for fuel wood and medicine. “Today, we are aware of this forest’s value for carbon sequestration, and we realize that we all have a much greater interdependence. So, do we protect an area for biodiversity and carbon sequestration, or do we recognize how dependent local people are on that resource base? My research is about trying to understand some of the spatial drivers behind this potential conflict, and how we can reduce such conflicts.” ”Students on these courses have many lecturers and we each teach what we know best and are passionate about. We teach up-to-date ideas, methods, and theories. In that sense this is real specialization,” says Elizabeth Robinson, Associate Professor at the University of Reading as well as Research Associate at the Environment for Development in Tanzania and A ssociate Professor at the University of Gothenburg.
Thomas Sterner Olof Johansson-Stenman
“It means that we can build closer research links and I’m able to teach and supervise students at Gothenburg. Crosscountry institutional links are increasingly important for funding of research projects, and for intellectual stimulation,” says Elizabeth Robinson. Yo u a r e t e ac h i n g about spatial modelling for evaluating protected areas. Can you explain this in layman’s terms? Elizabeth Robinson often laughs heartily and now she guffaws and exclaims that she is already brain-fried from three hours of teaching:
What is the best part of your job as a researcher?
“Addressing real life puzzles. Stretching my brain all the time. I love theory. But what is exciting is to know that my theoretical models can give policy makers the tools to make decisions that may lead to less conflict and greater possibilities for improving livelihoods and resource management,” says Elizabeth Robinson. According to Olof Johansson-Stenman, Professor of Economics and Vice-Dean of the School of Business, Economics and Law, the specialization courses as well as the Environment for Development initiative (EfD) are perfectly in line with the school’s and the university’s profile and vision: “We express this very clearly in our core values. The aim of the school and the university is to try to make the world a little better and promote sustainable development. One example of us taking global social responsibility seriously is our sustainable development economics training of PhD students from different countries,” says Olof Johansson-Stenman.
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Let your thoughts flow freely ”Creativity’s keywords are curiosity, imagination, feeling secure,” observes Professor Fredrik Bäckhed, Director of the Wallenberg Laboratory for Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research. What does creativity mean to you?
It is daring to go one’s own way, being curious and breaking new ground. Dreaming and fantasising and letting one’s imagination run wild. A creative hypothesis is like a fantasy you can explore. How does this specifically apply to the field of medical and scientific research?
In my particular work, it is problem solving within a project. Both when it is starting up and later when analysing the data. We need to place our research in relation to what others have done, but dare to take it a step further and set out on new ground – instead of simply making efforts similar to what has already been made. How important is one’s environment?
In order to be creative, one needs to feel safe and secure. It’s really hard for someone to think about their research if they always have to think about whether they will have a job next month, or not. Younger researchers often have insecure positions that do not generate clear career paths. It is important to work towards a common vision, daring to ask new questions, set one’s sights high, and to trust and respect each other. If one takes pleasure in their colleagues’ success and has a sense of team spirit, then I think one will grow as a person and as a researcher. The environment should feel welcoming, with a generous sharing of ideas. Natural meeting points, such as near the coffee machine, are important. The environment should be heterogeneous in terms of fields of expertise and knowledge, as well as in the colleagues’ backgrounds. A place where older mentors can share their knowledge with the younger ones, and international influences show that there are different ways of working and solving problems. Research today is exceptionally complicated, and expertise from various different fields is a necessity. If environments are created where clinicians and basic scientists are working together, this produces exceptional benefits. An extended interdisciplinary perspective is important in order to broaden
one’s own perspective and to pose the relevant questions about what needs to actually come out of the research in practical terms for the benefit of the public and clinicians. It may be new dietary advice or guidelines, or the findings that an expensive treatment could be replaced with a less expensive one. My responsibility as a manager is to attempt to offer my colleagues that environment. Is it possible to measure creativity in a research environment?
It is not often evaluated in real time, but rather is measured retrospectively, when you can see the outcome of the activities and efforts over period of time. How important is it to dare to fail?
It is essential in order to find new fields of research. Analyse why the experiment failed or otherwise went wrong; think about if the hypothesis was wrongly formulated, and then reformulate it. The hypothesis you posed in the first experiment was built upon the knowledge available at the time. The current state of the funding system in Sweden does not stimulate this type of research. It is also problematic with research applications that are written for five years into the future. If you do what is in the application, then you have already been able to foresee everything – and tell me how that is something? Is it possible for teaching to be creative?
Yes, in order to arouse the curiosity of the listener, so that they begin to think for himself or herself, is a creative approach that breeds creativity. The teacher has a guiding function in order to show that an answer can be reached in any one of a variety of ways. Learning facts is important, but must be placed in its context. It is important to pose questions and I would encourage everyone to be curious. If you that, maybe you will venture to elucidate things in a new way.
For Fredrik Bäckhed the keywords are creativity, imagination and feeling secure.
»A creative hypothesis is like a fantasy you can explore.« it is essential that researchers have the opportunity to experience at least 2 or 3 diverse international settings. There needs to be an open possibility for my colleagues to experience the freedom to explore, or else they would feel no curiosity. When are you feeling creative?
I see no clear demarcation between free-time and work, and I regard myself as being creative whatever I am doing. When I am reading or when I am at my children’s football practice, a thought can come into my mind, and I make a note of that. Or something comes up in a meeting with students, during a discussion about their research and careers. When I am out jogging, I might spontaneously see a link between two projects or a result in the lab, and I have time to reflect. The thoughts have to be allowed to flow freely.
Can creativity be developed and be changed?
One needs to expose themselves to other environments and new cultures. Therefore
Text: Helena Svensson Photo: Johan Wingborg
Following the tracks of inquisitive Swedish artic adventurers
OLAR RE S EARCH emuch more than natural science. This was the point when The Polar Portal was established in 2011, with financial support from the Swedish Research Council. “The concept was that the portal should be an inspiration for those want to do serious research on the polar regions based on issues and questions from the perspectives of the humanities, social sciences and artistic interests. But the portal is additionally meant for the interested public,” explains Anders Larsson, Senior Librarian at the Gothenburg University Library. It is Anders who is responsible for a large share of production of the text, along with Aant Elzinga, Professor Emeritus, Theory of Science and Research, who spent the entire month of February in the Villa Martinson at Jonsered Manor, to work with the portal. At Jonsered, Oscar Dickson also lived here during the summers, in the now-demolished Villa Bokedalen. He was a timber magnate, who was accursed and stood trial for having illegally logged trees from stateowned forests. “But he did good things, too, such as donating substantial sums to research,” observes Aant Elzinga. “Among other things, participated in and financed Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld’s expeditions to Spitsbergen and Greenland, the Vega Expedition and also both of Andrée’s bal-
photo: Johan Wingborg
The latter part of the nineteenth century was a heyday for Swedish artic research. Experienced crews, curious researchers, death-defying adventurers, and the occasional cat, set off on adventurous trips with an uncertain outcome. Stories about the expeditions and the travellers, along with photographs, art and lists of literature, have been gathered together in The Polar Portal for some time now. However with the recent translation work, it is now accessible in English.
Anders Larsson and Aant Elzinga are hoping that The Polar Portal, now accessible in English, will be useful and entertaining.
loon expeditions to the North Pole. His correspondence was unfortunately burned after his death, perhaps according to Dickson’s own instructions. However his letters to Nordenskiöld are preserved at the University Library. That the contents of The Polar Portal have now been translated into English makes them accessible to even more people. “But difficulties were encountered in the
translation process. For instance, a letter that was addressed to Dickson as “Herr Grosshandlare,” becomes ‘Mr. Wholesaler Dealer’ if translated literally into English. But is hardly correct to say ‘Mr. Wholesale Dealer.’ The solution was to keep the Swedish text, but with an explanatory note.” The portal contains 12 narratives of expeditions and 13 biographies. Many of the names, such as Andrée, Nordenskiöld and Skottsberg, most people have heard to. But there are also less well-known artic explorers, such as the geographer Axel Hamberg. “He is better known for his guidebook on Sarek National Park, whose creation in 1910 he championed and which came to be largely because of his efforts,” explains Aant Elzinga. “But he also was an artic traveller, Chairman of the International Glacier Commission and the mediator when the US and France, after World War I, tried to exclude Germany from the international scientific associations.” T ro m s ö i s s o m e ti m e s called “the gateway to the poles.” “But the same epithet would fit Gothenburg,” in the opinion of Anders Larsson. “Several expeditions started out from here, as were five of S.A. Andrée’s nine attempts to travel by hot air balloon in order to develop a control system. Much less well-known is his brother Ernst Andrée, who was the harbourmaster in Gothenburg and an important person when it came to obtaining personnel, goods and supplies for the expedition. He was, incidentally, also the director of a predecessor of the Swedish liquor store system, Systembolaget, the socalled Gothenburg system.” “Polar expeditions were an exclusively male domain. Almost. There were in fact a few female polar explorers as well, for example the cook Amanda Wennberg, who in the winter of 1872-1873 was the first woman, albeit involuntarily, who wintered at Spitsbergen,” recounts Anders Larsson. “Both gender studies as well as indi-
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photo: pol arportalen
This image is from the Adventsdalen base camp on Spitsbergen. This photograph from 1896 was taken by Gerard de Geer’s expedition.
»One of the many things that is so captivating about the polar regions is that the conditions for human survival become so evident there.« AANt ELZINGA
genous peoples’ views on their homeland belongs to such matter which are beginning to be addressed, increasingly in recent years begun. Climate change is shown in an extremely tangible way with the example of the Greenland Inuit, who have been forced to abandon their old fishing grounds when the ice is no longer sufficiently dense to support them.” A very special place of honour in polar history is held by the shipboard cats who accompanied along as rat hunters. “Otto Nordenskjold’s granddaughter has donated materials to the University Library, which includes a newspaper article about how the captain’s Manks cat survived a whole winter in Antarctica in 1902, including the sinking of the expedition ship and the life in a hut on Paulet Island, and who then accompanied him back to Buenos Aires,” relates Anders Larsson. “Someone should certainly write Otto Nordenskjold’s biography; he was an incredibly interesting person, ecumenical Christian, friend of peace during World War I and fascinated by the native peoples he met during his adventurous travels in Tierra del Fuego from 1895 to 1897.” But polar research is not only breathtaking adventure. It is also about politics and economics, about fishing waters and crude
oil. For instance, there is the Lomonosov Ridge which extends between Greenland and Siberia, and the question is whether it should be considered as belonging to Russia or Denmark – and what rights the indigenous people who live in the polar region can be considered as having” “Greenland is just one large mineral or oil reserves find from saying goodbye to Danish social insurance, and instead seeking total independence,” in the opinion of Aant Elzinga. have also inspired art, music and literature, especially science fiction and fantasy. For example, Victor Frankenstein chases his monster up there at the North Pole in Mary Shelley’s famous novel from 1818. And last year, Bea Uusma was awarded the August Prize for the best Swedish non-fiction book of the year for her book on Andrée’s trip to the North Pole, Expeditionen: min kärlekshistoria [The Expedition: my love story], facts-reviewed by Anders Larsson. “One of the many things that is so captivating about the polar regions is that the conditions for human survival become so evident there,” observes Aant Elzinga. “It touches our ‘polar philosophy,’ ideas about the ice landscape’s severity and how ‘a decent
Read more and make use of: www.ub.gu.se/ portaler/polarportalen
life’ at the Arctic is humanly possible.” ”But as the ice caps disappear there is a risk that the interest in the region will also decline,” points out Anders Larsson. “For today there is no longer any doubt that the desolate, sternly beautiful and sublimely different landscapes of the Arctic are on the path to be lost forever.” The enthusiastic project manager for The Polar Portal was Associate Professor Lisbeth Lewander, who sadly passed away two years ago. In her memory, the historical group within the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR) will host a lecture every two years, the Lewander Lecture. This year’s lecturer is the literary scholar at the SCAR Open Scientific Conference, Elizabeth Leane, Associate Professor at the University of Tasmania. Text: Eva Lundgren
T h e p o l a r r eg i o n s
Re sults in brief That polar science is not just about the natural sciences was something the Swedish Research Council drew attention to during the Fourth International Polar Year 2007–2008. A special focus on the “human dimension” was made, which for the University of Gothenburg meant an exhibition at the Sjöfartsmuseet/Maritime Museum, Gothenburg as a node for polar research, past and present, as well as several lecture series. Financial support was also given to a portal for Swedish polar research 1860-1980.
The portal opened 13 June 2011. Until her passing away in 2012, Lisbeth Lewander, Associate Professor in the Department of Cultural Sciences, was the Project Manager. During the Science Festival, Aant Elzinga was on the Älvsnabben talking about Gothenburg as an ice sea port for travel between Rosenlund and Lindholmen. Geovetarcentrum at the Department of Earth Sciences is arranging a Lecture by Martin Visbeck from the University of Kiel, on 26 May.
One term gave new inspiration Six months at a traditional college of liberal arts, where one could focus on teaching, provided entirely new perspectives and insights. “I jumped right into this without a parachute,” notes Clemens Cavallin, Associate Professor in the History of Religions, about his time at Haverford College, right outside Philadelphia. Clemens Cavallin, who received one of the coveted STINT Fellowships, held an introductory course in Hinduism at one of America’s premier colleges of liberal arts. What he was most impressed with was the high quality of education, with many teaching hours, and the small class sizes. “It was great to be able to immerse myself in a subject together with committed and talented students, such as those that I met twice a week for an entire term. There were only 11 students in my group and they came from different fields of interest and majors, and only one of them was a religious studies major. That they had such a diverse range of prior knowledge was a challenge. That’s the whole point. You had to learn to adjust the teaching accordingly. I had been able to go there with half-closed eyes and do the same thing as I do here, but if I had done that, then I wouldn’t have learned anything.” Clemens Cavallin went there last summer with his wife and six children aged 5–19 years old. They rented an old house in the campus area, just a few minutes’ walk from the Department of Religion. He says that L a st fa ll ,
they had incredibly good luck with the weather; by the end of July the sweltering heat had subsided and after they came home for the winter break, the harsh winter hit the region and temperatures fell to 20 degrees below zero Celsius, with ice storms. “We got to experience a long, warm, and stunning autumn with golden leaves. The campus area is one large arboretum with beautiful buildings, large parks and jogging trails. The students live on campus during their four years of studies. Many of the teachers also live there in beautiful wooden houses. Well, just think what it would be like if we could create something similar around the Näckrosen campus!” B u t it i s c le a r that a liberal arts campus, which was originally founded by the Quakers in the late 1800s, with only 1,200 students and 130 teachers, cannot be compared to a large Swedish university. “There are big differences. They cultivate a special identity, which is not surprising since they “own” the students for four years. Despite the fact that today it is not a religious college, there is a fine sense of
tradition. Everyone protects what is called the “honor code,” a culture of fundamental core values that stand for accountability and respectful communication, along with embracing differences. A n ot h e r m a j o r difference is that the students there take four courses simultaneously, which corresponds to double the workload of a Swedish student at a Swedish university. In addition, students are expected to study topics across a wide range of topics width. As a humanities major, one is forced to study a scientific topic, and vice versa. “There is an educational ideal that includes the natural sciences. This is of course a great idea! They do not specialise in the same manner that we do, but rather wait until a much later date to choose a major or specific course of study. One does not seek admission to a particular course or a program of study, but rather to a college. When I explained to my American colleagues how Swedish youth must choose their direction in life when they are only 15–16 years old, they did not think it was possible.” One challenge for Clemens Cavallin was, in addition to generally preparing for the visit, to understand the entire system, not least the grading scale with at least 15 levels. The Swedish “Pass with Distinction” (VG) grade must then be broken down into six different levels. Even the students’ oral
I strongly believe that all teachers need to teach in a different system in order to get a fresh look at their own way of doing things,” comments Clemens Cavallin.
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Clemens Cavallin spent last autumn at Haverford College which was a rewarding experience.
presentations were of greater importance than they are here. “One problem was that the grade point average cut was high, so it was difficult to judge the students’ efforts at that level. But it’s better than our three-step scale, which should be abolished,” remarks Clemens Cavallin. B u t o f co u r s e not everything was all positive. Since many of the students had such a tight schedule, Clemens Cavallin worried that many students had psychological problems and felt unwell. “It made me wonder if the students, who seemed to be in such strong competition with each other, were pressured from home and had all too much to do. Or is it that we have the same problem here, though we do not recognise it?” During his six months stay, he got a good insight into how a liberal arts college works. “It was fascinating with this focus on the quality of the teaching,” remarks Clemens Cavallin as he leans back in his chair. “I even had an assistant, a senior [fourth year student] who majored in Education, who attended the seminars, took note of the views of students and discussed this with me every week. It was part of a larger program that involves all newly hired teachers getting a chance to develop their teaching skills. In addition, the head of the department sat in on a seminar and listened to the students’ impressions. He wrote a report that went to the highest level.” “There are a lot of things that are very different,” points out Clemens Cavallin, who missed the sense of community that exist here at home in the workplace. There was no free coffee, for instance, or lunch room
Clemens Cavallin Profession: AssociateProfessor of Religious Studies. Age: 44 years old. Family: Wife and six children. Lives: In a large, old wooden house in Borg stena, outside Borås. Interests: Art (particularly painting), Indian religions, Catholic religiousness and culture, and, last but not least, renovation and restoration of houses. The three main reasons to seek a STINT Scholarship: 1. To be able to participate in the high quality American education in the liberal arts. 2. Focus of one’s own teaching and develop it over the course of a term. 3. Getting to know the American society and the educational system.
where it was possible to meet colleagues. Clemens Cavallin was also there when the Department of Religion was evaluated externally in the autumn. “It was fascinating how qualitatively oriented it was. Research and education was not regarded as separate, independent parts, but rather were weighed together into a whole. The evaluation itself was long and detailed, but those that evaluated the department came up with constructive criticism on how the substance could be developed further and improved, rather than simply giving an approval or deny one.” an incredibly rewarding time, not only at work, but also in personal terms. “Other than a large water leak the first week in the house, everything went exceptionally well. It was a positive experience for the entire family. We experienced an entirely different culture with my family. One reason we liked it so much was due in large part to the fact that the public schools in the area were so good. One of our daughters, who started school in the United States, learned fluent English in only a few months. Six months is too short a time. Just when we were getting settled in and feeling at home, it was time to return to Sweden.” He encourages more people to apply for the scholarship, because it provides perspective in their field of study and the teaching. “It is really a terrific scholarship which covers of all your expenses. Who wouldn’t want that? But you have to have a sense of adventure and not to be afraid of challenges. For me, my desire to work was influenced positively because I had to devote all my H e t h i n ks it wa s
energies to teaching. I think it’s fun to teach again. Here at home, one is expected to do as much as possible in everything: research, teaching and administration, and there is great risk that some become constrained. It feels more fragmented here while there are much less rules and regulations in the US. You are responsible for a course and you are expected to do it as well as possible,” observes Clemens Cavallin. Text: Allan Eriksson Photo: Private & Johan Wingborg Sabbatic al Term for te ac hers The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education (STINT) works to stimulate the internationalisation of Swedish universities and to strengthen their competitiveness. The “Teaching Sabbatical” is one of scholarship programmes that provide university teachers the option of teaching a term’s at one of those institutions that STINT has arrangements with in the United States, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan or the United Arab Emirates. The selected universities are considered to have high-quality educational programs. The scholarships are awarded twice a year, so now in May it is time to apply. The University of Gothenburg can nominate a total of three candidates. Learn more about STINT’s Teaching Sabbatical programme: www.gu.se/stint. Do not miss this spring’s vision seminar On May 19, from 13:00 to 15:00, a vision seminar on internationalisation is being arranged. Hans Pohl, Program Director at STINT, and others will be here to talk about STINT’s initiatives and programmes. Learn more and register at: www.gu.se/internationalisering2020.
Professor on the board
It is an entirely ordinary Friday afternoon in April. Behind the cinema Bergakungen, a whoosh sound and loud bangs from young people can be heard. The sounds are from the youth who skate in Gothenburg’s “ActionPark.” But who is that skater wearing a dark suit with a vest? That is Jonas Ivarsson, Professor of Education, who is trying his hand at a 3 flip.
3 Fli p (also known as a “360 flip”) is all about rotating one’s board 360 degrees while it spins around its own axis. It goes like that. A few weeks ago he was on his way to the hospital after hitting his leg just below the knee; another time he got a slight concussion after falling on his head. But in any case it seems that there won’t be any damage today, even though Jonas Ivarsson, something unusual for him, is wearing neither helmet nor protective gear. “You need to find lines to go after and places to pick up speed. While you are in the air, if you notice you will land wrong, you have to quickly decide what to do. When starting out skateboarding, one often falls, so it’s important to learn how to fall properly.”
ActionPark, which opened five years ago and which extends over nearly 2,000 square meters, has both deep and shallow parts. One see countless numbers of gym shoes dangling in a tree that have been thrown there; shoes are something that wears out kinda quickly, explains Jonas Ivarsson. W h e n I a sk how long he has been skateboarding, he tells me how he began as a child at home in Karlstad on homemade ramps made of wood. But when he was about 14 or 15 years old, he quit. But about five years ago, he took it up again. “I was a guest researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, and lived on the border of Santa Monica and Venice, just where the modern skate scene began
forty years ago by surfers who wanted to prolong the season. When I walked there along the beach and saw a lot of guys with their skateboards, I once again felt the urge. So I bought a hand painted Skip Engblom board. Nowadays I skate 1–2 times a week, it’s the only exercise I find the time for. It’s physically demanding, demands complete and total focus, and is very relaxing.” J o n a s I va r ss o n i s a newly appointed professor of education. His room at Pedagogen (Faculty of Education) is large, and almost a bit desolate of personal stuff. But there are actually some pictures hanging on the wall – which causes me to wonder aloud if he’s interested in art. As it turns out, Jonas paints himself, pre-
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among other subjects. It was when he came in contact with Berner Lindström, visiting professor of education, that he became interested in studying how people assimilate new knowledge. But it was Roger Säljö, now Dean of the Faculty of Education, who in 1999 attracted him to research on pedagogy in Gothenburg. I n 2 0 0 4 h e r ec e i v e d a doctorate after defending his dissertation on new technologies in schools, which showed that computers cannot replace traditional teaching of science. But his current area of research is interpersonal communication and beliefs about what knowledge really is. “My starting out point is that knowledge is developed in a social context in which we learn by interacting with others. A person who grows up in isolation does not develop any knowledge at all. Many of our abilities are also linked to the tools or skills that have developed throughout history, which we are constantly re-using and developing further. Even the person who sits entirely alone in his room and studies is engaging in an interaction with other people, as he or she is reading books or using technology that others have developed. The tests that pupils in schools are usually subjected to are based on some kind of idea of accessing what students ‘really’ know. Therefore they figure out math problems without the aid of calculators, or write an essay without a dictionary. But the tests say very little about how students will handle real problems, where they are usually both will have access to tools and must collaborate with others.”
ferably in acrylic on canvas. He sits down at the computer and quickly a page pops up, Ars Royale. It contains a whole series of subversive attacks on government and monarchy, something that makes me a little worried: are you really allowed to do that? I got a phone call from the police. At first I was a bit disconcerted. But it turned out to be a group of undercover drug officers who joined together to decorate their new office and who wanted to buy the Monarch painting. The works can be seen on Facebook, but are also showing up here and there on the Internet.” Jonas Ivarsson completed his undergraduate studies in Linköping. He studied psychology, linguistics and computer science,
“O n c e ac t ua lly,
T h e r e fo r e J o n a s Ivarsson is studying how learning in groups works. In the project Epistemic topologies. Arranging for advanced knowledge articulation, which is a part of the research environment LinCS and in the priority research area Learning, he studies the professional way of working in two completely different fields. The first part of the project concerns tomosynthesis. “There is a new technique for chest x-rays that does not provide as good images as CT scans do, but which in return means lower doses of radiation, something which is important for patients with cancer or cystic fibrosis for example, who are often exposed to x-rays. My research group colla borates with a very experienced group of radiologists and radiophysicists at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. We examine how they learn to use these images by adapting their professional perspective to the new technology.” As tomosynthesis provides different kinds of images, where for example the the edges of the lungs’ lobes are not visible, physicians must develop new criteria in order to assess the diseases. “In this project, we are videotaping how they work. In this way, we show how a specific training approach that includes a combination of technologies, can be used both to develop the criteria in terms of quality and as well to increase the novice’s ability to detect pulmonary nodules to the degree
that experienced radiologists can,” explains Jonas Ivarsson. “The goal is to reduce the variation between the estimations in order to gain a common understanding and a common language for what is seen, and thus create a method of application that can be used in practice.” T h e s eco n d pa r t of the project deals with green roofs. “It involves a collaboration with the architectural network Power Stockholm Los Angeles which works i.a. with different types of vegetation on roofs. They create both wet and dry areas, using plants that attract different kinds of insects and allow these very specific environments to interact with uncontrolled processes such as weather and wind. The architects discuss among themselves but also gain the input and contributions from other professions, such as engineers who can calculate the structural strength and resistance, and biologists who can explain the capillary action that gets the roots and stem of a plant to draw water.”
between the projects is that radiologists can more easily assess which direction they want to work, because they can compare tomosynthesis with the established X-ray tomography technique. “For the architects, on the other hand, there is no “gold standard” to relate to, “explains Jonas Ivarsson. “What both projects have in common however is that they are all about learning new ways of working within an area where no one has gone before, and where even those who are well-established within the profession must learn new things. We hope that our findings will be used in other similar areas and provide the basis for new ways to educate.” For the past two years, Jonas Ivarsson has also served as Research Dean. Among other things, he is working to get scientists O n e d i ffe r e n c e
»You need to find lines to go after and places to pick up speed. While you are in the air, if you notice you will land wrong, you have to quickly decide what to do.« to register their publications in GUP, as it is by appearing there as faculty, additional research funding may be received, something which the Faculty of Education is very successful at. K n ow le d g e a n d understanding of how one gains knowledge can be obtained everywhere, observes Jonas Ivarsson. Also within skateboarding. “One of my smaller research project involves taking turns within skateboarding. The order of priority, or who takes their turn when, is one of the fundamental bases for how we create social order and come to see each other, but almost all studies have exclusively looked at how we do this in conversation. However in a conversation, not much happens if you happen to speak at each other, or even on top of each other. However skaters who do not respect the order of who takes their turn when run the risk of colliding into each other, along with unpleasant consequences. Who goes when? This is determined by small movements or a look, which outsiders might not even notice, saying that it is now time for someone else to get in. This type of scheme or set of rules can be found everywhere, and we most often handle it reflexively. Just think of an ATM queue where you have to stand a certain distance apart from each other, not too closely in to those taking out money, but still close enough that it is evident that this is a queue and not just people standing around.” But life is not only working at the University, skateboarding or a subversive
art project. Jonas Ivarsson also is engaged in a renovation project. Two years ago the family bought a country manor-like house in central Hisingen. The house was filthy, dilapidated, the electricity was erratic, and the kids were more than sceptical. “But after changing pipes and drainage system, draining the grounds, drilling new water wells, and installing geothermal heating, they are now very comfortable with it,” Jonas Ivarsson assures us. “I’m fairly handy and we try to do large parts of the work ourselves. And since my father was a carpenter, we get quite a bit of help. So we are on track to get ready a very nice house with a glorious big garden.” Text: Eva Lundgren Photo: Johan Wingborg
Jonas Ivarsson News: Newly appointed Professor of Education.
Family: Wife and two sons, 11 and 9 years old.
Works: As Vice Dean for Research at the Faculty of Education. Projects involved with: In charge of the project Epistemic topologies. Arranging for advanced knowledge articulation, within LinCS, The Linnaeus Centre for Research on Learning, Interaction and Mediated Communication in Contemporary Society.
Resides: On Hisingen.
Age: 38 years old.
L ast book read: Songs of the Doomed by Hunter S. Thompson. L atest film: The Omen. Favourite food: Almost every thing, as long as it is vegetarian. But chanterelle risotto is probably a favourite. Interests: Skateboarding, art, video games, cooking.
The abridged version of the University of Gothenburg staff magazine, GU Journal. Issue no 3 May 2014.