number 4 | june 2011
UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG
A spinning physicist Johan Ă…kerman puts electrons in their place inequality
New resource model
Majority of men among guest professors
Theyâ€™ll be winners and losers
Reflections of a frustrated mentor
words from Vice-Chancellor nyheter
A journal for the Universit y of Gothenburg’s employees
e d i to r - i n c h i e f & p u b l i s h e r
Allan Eriksson 031 - 786 10 21 firstname.lastname@example.org e d i to r & d e p u t y p u b l i s h e r
Eva Lundgren 031 - 786 10 81 email@example.com p h oto g r a p h y & r e p r o d u c t i o n
Johan Wingborg 031 - 786 29 29 firstname.lastname@example.org g r a p h i c d e s i g n & l ayo u t
Anders Eurén Björn S Eriksson
c o n t r i b u t i n g au t h o r s
Magnus Pettersson, Barbara Czarniawska T r a n s l at i o n
Laying the foundation for a renewed university Competition is creating pressure on universities. That requires renewal. The University of Gothenburg is far from being alone in starting to work on change. The goal is to become stronger in a world with a constant stream of new challenges. One important thing in all the change work is reflection. This sounds obvious but, with demands for quick decisions and measures, it is often forgotten. We are often very good at starting new projects and developing plans. We are not always as good at evaluating and following up. We have to be better at this to be able to achieve good results and maintain good quality in everything we do.
Robert Ohlson, Välskrivet i Göteborg address
GU Journal, University of Gothenburg Box 100, 405 30 Gothenburg e-mail
Geson Hylte Tryck issue
6 200 copies ISSN
7 issues/year. The next number will come on September 28th. l a s t dat e f o r t e x t s
May, 9, 2011 m at e r i a l
GU Journal does not take respon sibility for unsolicited material. The editorial department is responsible for unsigned material. You are welcome to quote, but indicate the source. change of address
Inform the editorial department of a change of address in writing. c ov e r pag e
Johan Åkerman, professor of Physics. Photo: Johan Wingborg
gujournal 4 | 11
By definition, our core activities – research and education – are problem oriented. They have to be able to be critically examined and questioned. This also applies to other activities in our university; everything must be able to tolerate critical examination. But critique can easily tip over toward the negative. It is easy to miss seeing what is good and the fact that we can be proud of it. I would like to look briefly at all the good work on change that we started and in part completed during the school year. All of it will lead to our having a completely new long term strategy
at the University of Gothenburg. The choices we make will characterize the period 2013-2020. The coming university strategy will be established on the basis of several different puzzle pieces. One is the results of the RED 10 research evaluation. Panning for the University of Gothenburg’s future research priorities from this examination will be an equally delicate as decisive task. Other pieces of the puzzle are the evaluation of undergraduate studies (BLUE 11) and the innovation and entrepreneur activities. Both will be completed during the year. A review of the organisation was started almost exactly one year ago. That is one more important piece of the puzzle. Even though everything has not turned out exactly in the way intended from the beginning, I am satisfied with the orientation decision that we finally took. I am also very satisfied with the strong involvement that we saw in the investigation and referral phases. Work to implement a changed organisation started a few weeks ago. About two hundred people will be involved in this during the year to come. Visionary work to put all the change work together into a functioning whole is being done under the umbrella name of Vision 2020. Exciting seminars have been held during the spring on business
intelligence and research. Relatively few persons have been directly involved as yet. Starting in the fall, the work will be opened for everyone interested. For example, workshops will be held every Wednesday afternoon between 14.00 and 15.30 to which all are welcome. Internationalisation, quality indicators, research connection and the relationship with different actors in education are some of the subjects. For those who wish, there will be great opportunities to influence the long term strategies and future of the University of Gothenburg. I hope for strong participation, many wise thoughts and creative proposals for solutions. I would like to close here by saying thank you for the many good efforts during a turbulent and change oriented year. I also wish all a truly fine and relaxing summer. Pam Fredman
photo: Hillevi Nagel
from the Editorial office
Fine education has to do with the big pictures What will scientific journalism look like in the future? That was the question at a seminar during the Science Festival. The answer is probably that it looks both sunny and gloomy. On the one hand, the public’s interest in research is large; on the other hand, newspapers’ editorial offices, such as Dagens Nyheter’s, has made big cuts in their coverage. The good news is that more and more specialised journals are being started, such as the popular Language (Språk) and Modern Psychology (Modern Psykologi). They’re nicely packaged, too, and make efforts to get good stories. But special journals only reach people who are already interested, not the broad
public. Still, there’s hardly any critical examination of the research society. The ambitious journal Today’s Research (Dagens Forskning) was discontinued a few years ago. With it disappeared the only critically examining research journal in the country. Nevertheless, there are now good possibilities for researchers to reach out by blogging. Åsa M. Larsson, archaeologist from Uppsala University, described her blog, Ting och tankar (Things and thoughts), at the seminar, which has drawn a great deal of attention. The blog saved her – she regained her desire for language. Not least, it gave her many new contacts and exciting research ideas.
In this issue we write about natural science fine education. In our times we’re drowned in information and it can be hard to weed things out. Fine education has to do with seeing the big pictures – and natural science plays an important role there, of course. We interview three natural scientists that have just come out with a publication about fine education. We hope that you continue to give us tips about what’s going on. Have a very pleasant and relaxing summer!
EVA LUNDGREN & ALLAN ERIKSSON
7 14 4
Few female guest professors
The School of Economics’ efforts in the guest professor program has primarily benefitted men.
New, clear model The teaching program will be the biggest loser when the University of Gothenburg introduces a new model next year for distributing resources to education.
Mischievous academy ”I fight to make research more cool”, says Henrik Zetterberg one of the members of a new academy.
Salary for PhD students to be introduced An investigation suggests a PhD student salary throughout the University. PhD student representative thinks it’s about time.
9=6 The Faculty of Natural Sciences has just made a re-organisation and reduced the number of departments from 9 to 6.
Taming electrons Faster, cheaper and more effective – that’s what future computers will be, according to physicist Johan Åkerman.
Chronicle: Barbara Czarniawska Reflections of a frustrated mentor.
Everything hangs together Marie Rådbo, Stefan Nilsson and Margareta Wedborg think that it’s obvious that natural science is a part of fine education.
g u j o u r n a l 4 | 1 1 3
A program that has favored men A well-intentioned investment in international expertise. That’s how the School of Economic’s program for foreign guest professors can be summed up. But where are the women?
he snazzy “Professor Installation 2011” briefly presents all the new professors with a picture. Even though there is still a clear majority of men, the proportion of newly recruited female professors was 32 per cent last year. Today, every fourth professor is a woman, which is somewhat higher than average for the whole country. Things don’t look as good on the guest professor side. During 2010 a small number of women were appointed guest professors at the University of Gothenburg. The statistics are worst for the School of Business, Economics and Law, which through its ambitious guest professor program has 27 professors at the School. Five of them are women. During 2010, seven men and one woman were appointed. “It’s astounding. If there’s already an uneven distribution, you should use the possibility to recruit more women by making a special investment in interesting researchers that can add a lot,” says equality secretary Pia Götebo Johannesson. Professor Olof Stenman-Johansson is Deputy President at the School of Business, Economics and Law. He also thinks that it’s regrettable that there aren’t more women. “It’s difficult to speculate about what it has to do with. Suggestions for guest professors come most often from the departments that give one or two names and there’s a risk then that there’s a lesser focus on equality.” So the School will now make a particular attempt to recruit two female guest professors using the money that is left in the program.
gujournal 3 4 | 11
Photogr aphy: Johan Wingborg and Anders Eurén
“In the short run we’ll have to try to do what we can. But in the long run we’ll have to go through the process and make sure that there’s a more even distribution next time if we succeed in getting money for another program.” Olof Stenman-Johansson thinks that there are reasonable explanations for the situation. He explains that everyone has tried to strengthen the School’s international profile by recruiting the best people in different areas. Another explanation is that there is a large over-representation of male professors at the School of Business,
Economics and Law. The situation is even worse around the world. But that isn’t an excuse, according to Olof Stenman-Johansson. “Among our most central goals is for teaching and research to be of the highest international quality, but the distribution between men and women should absolutely be more even. These guest professors are also models for our students, so it’s a very important issue for us to work with.” At the Faculty of Natural Sciences, which also has a low proportion of female professors, a strategic effort was made to bring in more women. The Faculty created positions for four female guest professors during
2010 – against the background that the Faculty had in recent years almost exclusively recruited men as adjunct professors and guest professors. “When it’s p ossible to recruit women, we always do. We give this great attention since our subjects are dominated by men, especially in most other places in the world. We want to show by this effort that it’s possible to bring in women with high merits,” says Vice Dean Marie Rådbo. Inga-Lill Johansson is the School of Business, Economics and Law’s equal treatment agent and a member of the School’s Board. “We could wish that things were
better. The Academy should be a model in society. But I don’t think that anyone has actively worked against women but that there are reasonable explanations. When you start a program of this size, it’s easy to follow the contacts you already have. You have to constantly work systematically with equality. If we get the chance to make the same kind of effort again, I’m sure there will be a more even balance.” But can it be that there aren’t so many women with high merits to choose in the area of economics?
“I’m not so sure that that’s true,” says Inga-Lill Johansson. “It may not be possible to get a completely even distribution, but the most important thing is that there is a desire and an ambition.” In that context, it can be said that the School of Business, Economics and Law recently appointed Julia Brandl from Austria to the Waernska guest professorship. The Vice-chancellor’s adviser in equality issues, Staffan Edén, tells GU Journal that he was surprised over the uneven distribution of the sexes among guest professors. “But that’s a responsibility that lies on the faculty level. If it doesn’t get better, we’ll have to review the routines for how guest professors are appointed at the University.” ALLAN ERIKSSON
the guest professor program
The proportion of female professors at the University of Gothenburg is 25 per cent (2010) but it varies a great deal between faculties, where the Faculty of Education is at the top with 45 per cent and the IT Faculty at the bottom with 14 per cent. The University’s equal treatment policy states: We shall purposefully increase the proportion of the under-represented sex so that neither sex shall be represented below 40 % in each employment and personnel category. A program that has received much positive attention is the School of Economics’ effort for international guest professors. It started in 2009 and intended to increase the pro portion of international teachers
and researchers. With the support of a total of 50 million crowns from private business, 27 internationally reputable professors have been connected to the School. These guest professors teach and supervise Master’s and PhD students, conduct research together with the employees of the School of Economics, are active in continuing education and hold seminars for partner companies and alumnae of the School of Economics. There are two forms of contract: one corresponds to 20 per cent of a full-time position as professor. Wage: 300 000 crowns/year. There is another that corresponds to 10 per cent of a full-time position. Wage: 150 000 crowns/year. Compensation is also given for travel and living costs.
Equality is going in the right direction, if slowly. At the same time, the proportion of young, female lecturers has decreased strongly in the last ten years. These are some of the conclusions of a study done at the School of Business, Economics and Law. Women’s and Men’s Career Progress (Kvinnors och mäns progression i karriären) doctoral students Lovisa Broström and Jonathan Borggren have gone through the distribution of the sexes at the School of Business, Economics and Law during the period from 1989 to 2010. The results show that there has been an equalization among graduate PhDs, lecturers and professors. “The situation has improved over these 20 years. There are more women on all levels today, even if there’s a far way to go until there are the same number of male and female professors at the School of Business, Economics and Law,” says Lovisa Brorström, who carried out the study on behalf of the Faculty’s equal treatment committee. In the rep ort
The prop ortion of female professors is now 22 per cent, which is the same level as the average for the country, 20 per cent. But it’s a bit lower than the average at the University of Gothenburg of 25 per cent. “It isn’t particularly surprising. But we’re a little better than Chalmers and the School of Economics in Stockholm.” The Department of Law has the largest number of female professors. The small research departments also have a comparably high proportion of female professors. Lovisa Broström belongs to the Department of Business History, which rather recently got a female professor. One purp ose of the report was to find out whether there was any discrimination of women at the School of Business, Economics and Law and, if so, where it takes place. But, according to Lovisa Broström, there isn’t anything to indicate that. “We looked at the time it took for men and women to become professors from the time they defended their theses and the women were faster than the men, so it was a positive surprise,” says Lovisa Broström, referring to the recent media debate about equality in the academic world. “It’s been confirmed in many places that women are at a disadvantage when they apply for research grants and that the proportion of female pro-
Photo: Johan Wingborg
More women on all levels
fessors doesn’t correspond to the proportion of women in undergraduate and PhD programs.” Another conclusion is that women stay to a greater extent at the School of Business, Economics and Law after having earned their PhD. “We don’t know what the reason for this is. Why do the men leave? Do they get high paid jobs in the business sector? And why do the women stay? They stay at the school but it can be difficult for them to get positions and several of them get caught in administrative tasks.” A more disapp ointing result is that the proportion of young female lecturers is low. Of those born during the 1970s, there are only three women, of whom only one has a full-time position. “The distribution of the sexes among young lecturers is alarmingly skewed. Only ten years ago, the proportion of young women was 30 per cent. So something has happened since then that we have to look more closely at.” Lovisa Broström says that it is relatively equal on the PhD student level but inequality increases on higher levels. “It’s a classic dilemma. The women disappear somewhere between earning a PhD and being appointed professor.”
Do you think that the differences will dis appear or are special measures necessary?
“We’ve only made a quantitative study, and deeper analyses have to be done. But I don’t think that everything will be better with time – special measures are needed to improve equality. The question is what should be done.” The report was presented at the Faculty Board meeting in April. According to Vice- chancellor Mette Sandoff, the School will pursue the question further. “There are many interesting conclusions in the report but we need to further analyse the results and find out why it looks the way it does before we decide on suitable measures to remedy the situation.” ALLAN ERIKSSON
g u j o u r n a l 4 | 1 1 5
Don’t miss the fall’s workshops! As a part of the work with VISION 2020 – how we will form the future of the University – a number of workshops will be arranged during the fall to take up decisive issues for the University’s future strategies for education, research, cooperation and innovation.
Time: Wednesdays 14.30 – 15.00 Place: Main building of the University, hall 10. Information about which theme will be discussed and a link to notification of participation will be on the homepage for VISION 2020. More information: www.vision2020.gu.se
text: Allan Eriksson photo: Johan Wingborg
Fewer special arrangements in new model
Färre särlösningar i ny model Next year a new resource model for education will be introduced that is based more strictly on the government’s price tags. It means that the humanities get the biggest raise. The teaching programs are the hardest hit, but to dampen the effect they’ll be given extra support.
To this time , it’s been almost impossible to get a view of the way that money has been allocated in the University of Gothenburg. The prices for
gujournal 3 | 11
full-time students and fulltime performance have been adjusted on the basis of different local systems that have varied over the years. “Now we’re sweeping the table, getting rid of some things and taking a new grip,” says budget coordinator Kristina Johansson. The new model is much like today’s, but it means that the connection to old, internal models is gone. “In the new one we base things on the government’s prices for education. This
means that some will be losers and others winners compared with the way it is today.” In a short time, Eva Svensson, investigator at Linköping University, developed a proposal for a new resource model for the University of Gothenburg.
“The biggest difference is that the University of Gothenburg previously had nine different price tag systems, one for each board, and now it’s one single model that applies for the whole University. The advantage is that it will be clear and transparent and show room for strategic efforts,” says Eva Svensson. In the middle of June, the University’s Board will take a so called orientation decision
To this time it has been very difficult to see where students come from and where they go. It will now be considerably easier. After several years of pressure, the Government has changed public and privacy regulations that
GU m a ga
Sender: Gothenburg University of Box 100 SE-405 30 Göteborg
ng We are changi the climate
areas of suss active in the with than 250 researcher studies. Our network We have more tal nt and climate 450 environmen tainable developme of Technology includes dioxide reduction, Chalmers University for example carbon . studying tal economics researchers more encar use and environmen our operations deforestation, ly trying to make g is the only We are continuous The University of Gothenbur according friendly. tally certified l vironmentally world that is environmen of the Internationa university in the ISO 14001. We are also part and to both EMAS Network. know more about Sustainable Campusto cooperate with us or at like please visit us issue, If you would tackle the climate what we do to ated work with climate-rel www.gu.se and Martin Persson . Ida Hellmark coordinates Ida Hellmark nerUniversity of Gothenburg on forest/bio-e matters at the which focuses connetwork Focali, Martin Persson the research poverty issues. and on. gy, climate changereduced tropical deforestati on ducts research
will give universities and colleges better possibilities to make investigations of students’ backgrounds and their choices after their studies. This means, for instance, that it will be possible to see where foreign students come from. and reduced development y of sustainable to the Universit and The issues of are central climate impact offer more than 350 courses ent We developm Gothenburg. sustainable ral es related to from Behaviou 33 programm ent – spanning Studies to Enviand the environm Business Sustainable raphy. Science and n and Oceanog ronmental Educatio
rsity a t t h e U n i ve Re s e a r c h
ur o f G ot h e n b
r is Nobel Prize winne us still curio The climate the – the issue of century s Titanium screw le give many peop a better life
GU in English GU Magazine is a journal about research at the University of Gothenburg. “Instead of a general brochure in English we’ve chosen to create a magazine that hopefully will offer interesting articles that are well worth reading. Take it along if you’ll
be travelling outside the country or if you are entertaining English speaking guests,” says editor Carina Elmäng. You can order GU Magazine in the same way as other information materials at: 222.gu.se/omuniversitetet/ bestall_trycksaker
about the new model, but exactly which price tags will be valid won’t be ready before the fall. The biggest losers are the teaching programs, whose compensation to this time has been 28 per cent above the government’s actual price tags. Kenneth Nyberg, who is chairman of the teaching education board, LUN, says that it’s difficult to make a case against a proposal that aims to make resource allocation simpler and more transparent. “But for the teaching programs, the proposal, if it’s applied completely, will mean that grants will go down by 11 – 12 per cent. That’s particularly unfortunate considering that the teaching programs at the University of Gothenburg are among the best in the country.” To dampen the effect, LUN will get an extra grant of 20 million crowns during 2012 but this will be reduced successively during the period. Kristin Johansson stresses that the teaching programs are of strategic importance for the University of Gothenburg, but that a problem is the high costs of support activities. “More money should be able to go to teaching and less to administration. Now the management is making demands for the whole organisation to be studied and to take measures. Then we can make a new trial in three years.” Kenneth Nyberg agrees that a review has to be made but is worried about the consequences. “In the end, it will anyway be that the teaching programs lose a lot of money. The basic problem is that the government under-finances teacher education. We work together with many different parties, both externally and internally with the departments. This cooperation requires resources.” Still, Kenneth Nyberg hopes that the cuts won’t be as large as has been suggested. “There’s an understanding
both centrally and at the faculties that the teaching programs have to cost money,” he says. Others that lose in the new system are Sahlgrenska Academy, the Faculty of Natural Science and care programs that belong to the Faculty of Social Sciences. The winners are primarily the Faculty of Arts, which has had the lowest price tags, but to a certain extent also the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts and the IT Faculty. “The artists don’t experience themselves as winners. Of course they’ll get higher compensation compared with today, but they want even more. Our feeling however is that there are advantages in running large operations where all the programs are under one and the same roof,” says Kristina Johansson. Even if there will be a certain redistribution of today’s price tags as early as 2012, the big work in the fall will be to come to an agreement about common principles for classifying courses. “We won’t go through things course by course. We’ll look at different subject areas. Most courses should be relatively unproblematic. If we succeed, we’ll have a common base and can then discuss completely different price tags than there are today. At the same time, we have only one bag of money, so if one area gets more it means that some other area gets less.” Another consequence is that common costs for, for example, support to student unions, disabled students and pedagogical development will be borne by everyone. “The most important thing is that we start a discussion about what strategic choices have to be made on the basis of RED 10 and BLUE 11, which will have consequences for how we allocate money in the new model. It’s no safe bet that everyone will like it,” says Kristina Johansson.
Photo: All an Eriksson
The Government is easing up on secrecy
Fredrik Bäckhed, Johan Åkerman, Annette Granéll and Henrik Zetterberg
Mischievous academy A vitamin injection that razes old subject boundaries and a unique meeting place for different disciplines – hopes are high at Sweden’s young academy that was founded on the 27th of May. Among the first 22 members are four researchers from the University of Gothenburg.
Academy will work. It’s something that we first members have to agree on,” explains Johan Åkerman, professor at the Department of Physics, who carries out research in spintronics. “But hopefully we’ll discuss questions about values and education, for example what scientific approach a young academy should stand for.”
The Royal Swedish Academy of
“I hope that we can become a voice in research policy that’s taken seriously,” says Annette Granéll, research assistant at the Department of Physics, who does research on the machinery that controls and repairs DNA. “We’ll function for instance as a referral body in different endeavours; right now it has to do with EU’s coming research program.” “We’re appointed for a period of five years. Then new young researchers are chosen,” explains Fredrik Bäckhed, university lecturer at the Department of Medicine, who does research on how bacteria in the intestines affect health and disease. “Of course it will be extremely exciting to be a part of this and to form research of the future in Sweden.” Henrik Zetterberg, professor at the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, who does research on biomarkers in the blood and spinal fluid, points out that researchers are often messy people with a large measure of energy. “I’ll fight to make research more cool: if we can attract young people who might be a little bit of insurgents to start to fight within research instead of in other places, they can probably get a lot of exciting things to happen.”
and Ragnar Söderberg Foundation are behind the new association that will give young researchers from all areas of science a possibility to meet and discuss common issues. “The persons we chose aren’t only outstanding in their fields but also engaged in research questions,” explains operations manager Anna Sjöström Douagi. “I hope that the Academy will function as a fertilizer that gets creativity to bloom. The members will be able to go to the Academy of Sciences or the Department of Education and say what they think.” The first 22 members come primarily from the areas of medicine and natural sciences. “But 18 more researchers will be added so that we have a group that represents as many research areas as possible, preferably also the arts, because one of the points of the Academy is exactly that young researchers will be able to meet over different boundaries and discuss common issues that don’t have to do with the individual disciplines.” The four researchers at the University of Gothenburg that have been appointed already have many ideas about what they want to realize. “It hasn’t been decided yet how the Sciences
EVA LUNDGREN g u j o u r n a l 4 | 1 1 7
Minus 32 million after four months
This is the first time in many years that the University of Gothenburg is showing figures in the red. But it’s alright, according to finance director Lars Nilsson, who counts on the University still being on the plus side by the end of the year. The Faculty of Natural Sciences has made a decision: two new departments will be formed while four departments will remain as they are. “In the end there was good agreement on the change,” explains Dean David Turner. “It also agrees with what emerged in RED 10.” Discussions about a new organisation at the Faculty of Natural Sciences have gone on for a long time, and three proposals have been sent out for referral. But the Board finally made its decision at the end of April, and the outcome is that nine departments will become six. A new department of biology will be created where the departments of marine ecology, zoology and plant and environmental sciences will be put together. “The fourth biology department – cell and molecular biology, CMB – will form a common department with chemistry,” says David Turner. “There was a proposal for all biology to be put into one department but CMB felt that they have more in common with chemistry.” There are operational and strategic advantages with a larger department, according to Gunnar Nyman, Prefect at the Department of Chemistry. “Nowadays, biology has more and more to do with chemistry, so in terms of subject matter we lie very close to one another. An example is biochemistry, which is in the Lundberg Laboratory, and so is CMB.” The two departments will have about 250 employees each and will therefore be considerably larger than the other four departments, which have fewer than 100 employees. “It will be a challenge of course that the differences are so large,” admits David Turner. “But it’s important to us to create a new organisation on the basis of the needs of the core activity and to gather areas that already work closely with one another. In terms of other departments, we simply haven’t found it to be scientifically motivated to merge.” The Vice-chancellor and the Board of the University want larger departments,
gujournal 3 | 11
according to the new decision about the orientation of the re-organisation of the whole University. “Larger departments give a larger critical mass and better flexibility with respect to financial considerations,” says David Turner. “Our four smaller departments are maybe too small to be able to bear some of the support functions themselves, which can mean that they have to share some positions. But that’s a later decision.” Gunnar Nyman points out that it’s important for the new departments to be grouped in the same location for them to be able to function well. “It has to do with creating a common culture where we all have the same goals. But since chemistry is primarily at Chalmers and CMB is up on Medicinareberget, there’s a large risk that we’ll continue to be two departments that don’t have so much in common. Personally, I wish that the whole Faculty would finally be collected at one single place, perhaps in the Chalmers area. It’s anyway Chalmers that we work together with most, and the RED 10 investigation also indicated that we should do that even more.” The question of location is of great strategic importance for the whole University, according to David Turner, and thus also has to be discussed with the Vicechancellor. The decision of the Faculty Board means that a work group will develop a proposal for a mobilisation in the geosciences areas – another suggestion made in RED 10. The plan for how to carry out the Faculty’s re-organisation will be ready by June 30. “Before the summer, we’ll also start recruiting prefects for the new departments,” David Turner explains. “Then we’ll see what changes need to be made in terms of administration and infrastructure.”
“It was e xactly what we expected, even if the salary contract was exceptionally high, a total of 5.8 per cent. But there is absolutely no cause for worry,” says Lars Nilsson. On the whole, the picture is sunny: the University of Gothenburg has many applicants on both the undergraduate and advanced levels. Grant revenues continue to increase. That the University reports a deficit of 32 million after the first four months of the year primarily has to do with the new salary contract and that there are 200 more employees now than last year. Lars Nilsson estimates Lars Nilsson that there will be room to make investments. “If we believe in the future, there are good possibilities to employ junior researchers and teachers in advance that can go parallel with seniors who will soon retire. Many departments can afford a transition of that kind.” The situation is under control in the faculties as well, says Lars Nilsson, who however does raise a little warning flag for the Faculty of Fine, A pplied and Performing Arts, which plans to be 20 million in the red at the end of the year. If the prognosis is true, the University will report a surplus of 40 million, which means a total accumulated surplus of over 800 million. “We have much too much money in the treasure chest. The Vice-chancellor has encouraged the boards to do something about the surplus in their activities and to make investments according to RED 10.” Lars Nilsson judges that the University of Gothenburg, with an annual turnover of 5 billion, should have a certain buffer to manage rapid changes, but that 200 – 250 million is enough for that. “It’s also a political problem. If there’s too much of a surplus in the university sector, it’s difficult to claim that further efforts are needed. Why should the government give us more money when there are more acute problems? That’s the picture I get when I talk with the Department.” Allan Eriksson
PhD position from day 1
to the investigation is a task given by the Vice-chancellor to look at the forms of financing post graduate studies. The basic idea behind the proposal is to introduce an education grant for the first PhD year and employment for the remaining three years throughout the University of Gothenburg by the year 2012. Step two will come in 2015, when candidates will be given employment from the first day and there will no longer be education grants. “There’s one more thing that’s important: an evaluation has to be made between the steps to check that there aren’t any strange effects,” says investigator Hans Abelius, scholastic leader for research and graduate studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences.
There are very different practices for financing PhD candidates between the faculties at the University of Gothenburg, in contrast to how this is done at many other large schools. For that reason, an investigation suggests that PhD positions be introduced in two steps throughout the University from the first to the last day.
The proposal is based on the University injecting financial resources.
One suggestion is to stop all scholarship funding except for Sida scholarships for foreign PhD candidates. But Hans Abelius has also written an alternative proposal to keep scholarships of at least the same size as the income from a PhD position after taxes have been drawn. “Some PhD students from developing countries are financed by Sida scholarships and many faculties think that it’s important to help those who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to follow a PhD program,” says investigator Hans Abelius. Bu Gunnar Köhlin at the Department of Economics and Statistics thinks that scholarships should remain. “At Economics, we have many foreign PhD students with scholarships. For that reason it’s important that we keep that exception for Sida scholarships. Without that exception the number of PhD students would fall dramatically and the research environment would suffer greatly,” says Gunnar Köhlin, Associate Professor at the unit for environmental economics. “At Economics, we still finance
Hans Abelius, scholastic leader at the Faculty of Social Sciences, wrote the report.
students with education grants the first two years, so if this reform goes through, it will require more resources. There can be a long term risk that we underproduce PhDs if the positions get too costly,” he says. The doctoral students at the University of Gothenburg welcome the proposal in itself but think that it’s been a long time coming. “They could have taken this step much earlier than 2015, considering that Chalmers, Uppsala University and others are before us. It’s a little embarrassing. But at the same time you have to be happy that it is actually happening,” says Daniel Bernmar, chairman of the University of Gothenburg’s PhD student committee (GUDK). schools have a more unified practice for financing PhD students is also a reason for the need of a central policy, according to the investigation. Today the question is largely owned by the faculties. “At other schools, such as in Stockholm, Lund and Uppsala, there is a policy on a central level. Here we let the faculties take care of it,” says Hans Abelius. That other comparable
Why is it important to have a common policy for the whole University?
“Doctoral students at the University of Gothenburg have to have the same conditions and financial terms for going on parental leave, being on sick leave and receiving an income based on sickness compensation (SGI). People who are financed
by scholarships don’t pay tax, don’t get financial sickness compensation and have poorer social protection,” explains Hans Abelius. He adds that it’s also a question of competition: if other Swedish schools, but not the University of Gothenburg, give PhD students employment from day 1, the University of Gothenburg will be less attractive. Gunnar Köhlin thinks however that this plays a smaller role: “The important thing is what other departments in the same subject area do, not whether you identify yourself with the central guidelines of the University of Gothenburg. It feels a lot like a product of an investigation.” A transition to a PhD position from the first to the last day would cost about 27 million crowns. That corresponds to 68 doctoral openings. And if all PhD candidates that are financed by scholarships go over to employment, the cost rises by a further 21 million crowns.
Isn’t there a risk that departments will try to save instead of making new funds available?
“The proposal is based on the University injecting financial resources. Everyone thinks it’s good for everyone to have the same conditions, but it’s a question of cost. If the University pays without injecting extra resources the volumes can decrease,” says Hans Abelius. The proposal will now go further to the central level of the University.
Financing doctoral students All the faculties have doctoral students that are financed by scholarships or some other way, for example self-support. At the Faculty of the Humanities, doctoral students are given employment from the first day. The same is basically true at the Faculty of Social Sciences, but practice varies between the departments and some doctoral students begin with education grants. The Sahlgrenska Academy has many doctoral students with external employment, many times financed by a combination of education grants and employment. The Faculty of Natural Sciences has few scholarship doctoral students. As of 2010, education grants are given the first year and there is a PhD position for the remaining four years. There will be only PhD positions starting in 2012. The School of Economics has no common policy. It varies between departments. The Faculty of Education offers PhD positions from the start. The Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts uses education grants for the first two years and employed positions for the two remaining years. However, there are plans to phase out education grants and go over to PhD positions. The IT Faculty has PhD positions from day 1.
Magnus Pettersson g u j o u r n a l 4 | 1 1 9
text: Eva Lundgren Photography: Johan Wingborg
A scientific omnivore “We’ve used electrons’ charge for a hundred years. Now we’re also taming their spin,” explains Johan Åkerman. He’s built up one of the world’s foremost research environments in spintronics, an area with enormous possibilities, among them creating superfast computers. Now he’s a member of Sweden’s new academy for young researchers. ohan Åkerman pours a cup of steamy hot coffee from a well equipped coffee machine in his room. He moves a little stiffly because he’s devoted his morning to one of the promises he made when he was tempted by the University of Gothenburg to leave KTH in October of 2008: participating in the Physic Department’s floorball matches. He still has his home, family and a part-time position in Kista, Stockholm, where he also still has his company, NanOsc. Exactly how he manages to be in two places at the same time is one of the physical riddles that are hardest for him to explain. But he actually thinks it’s a pretty good arrangement. “I combine the best of two different places: in Kista I still have the processes I’ve developed myself since 2005. I’m moving over as many of the process steps as I can right now, but all of them aren’t working yet. Here in Gothenburg there’s one of the world’s best laboratories for nanotechnology, MC2. And my cooperative partners are international. Right now I’m primarily working together with a group from Italy. But my group at the University of Gothenburg is also very experienced. Where I actually am physically isn’t so important.” Johan Åkerman’s two research groups consist of a total of 16 persons. They have constant communication with each other via Dropbox, Skype and the Convofy network. This means that the group can always build on a collective knowledge base where everyone is updated on everything that’s happen-
gujournal 4 | 11
wireless networks and in mobile phones. The spin ing, both what’s going on in their own projects and waves are also called magnons, as compared with in others. sound waves, which are called phonons, and light, “My doctoral students and post docs come from photons.” Italy, the Ukraine, Germany, Venezuela, the US, Iran, India, China, Korea, Vietnam and Sweden. The value of a multicultural environment and the A problem with modern computer technology is importance of creating a positive spirit were some the communication between the transistors in the of the many things I learned in the US. I place very computer chip. Today this goes together with milhigh demands on my employees and on all the lions of lines inside the chip and hundreds between equipment. There’s a lot that can go wrong – and chips. it does – we’re in a constant battle against entropy. “Using spintronics, we hope instead to be able But I’m careful about everybody feeling good. The to create wireless communication within the chip coffee machine, for example, is a little fun factor. If between only one sender and one receiver. The everybody’s satisfied then I’ve done a good job.” computers of tomorrow will be smaller, faster, Johan Åkerman grew up in Tranemo and Lund. cheaper and more energy efficient.” But he did his Master’s in Lausanne and he did Johan Åkerman’s group hasn’t only calculated his doctorate at KTH before he left as a post doc the spin waves on which the technology is built. for the University of California in San Diego. He They’re also the first in the world to have succeeded also worked at Motorola and in depicting them optically. Freescale Semiconductor, “We sent our results to Nature and the editor Phoenix, Arizona, before thought it was good he got the prestigious enough to send it out for research grant “Research The computers of tomorrow will review.” Leader of the Future” Johan Åkerman is be smaller, faster, cheaper and more (“Framtidens forsknused to talking about all energy efficient. ingsledare”) from the the fantastic possibilities Swedish Foundation for of spintronics. He learned Strategic Research. during his years in the US that it’s important to be able to explain your research and that basic Spintronic s and magnons are the words that research and applications go hand in hand. Still, Johan Åkerman uses to explain what he does. it’s the research itself that interests him most and it Magnonics is a completely new research area that was the possibility to go deeper in his research that has only existed for three or four years. gradually made him leave the US. “An electron has two characteristics: charge, “If I hadn’t been named Research Leader of which is used in all electronics, and spin, which the Future the whole family probably would have makes the electrons magnetic. Spintronics has moved to Silicon Valley. My wife did her PhD at the to do with combining these two characteristics, Burnham Institute in San Diego, one of the world’s which is already done in the read-out head in modforemost cancer research institutes, and we had ern hard disks. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg just had twins when the offer came from SSF. I later – the technique will be able to be used in all areas learned that I was considered something of a wild that deal with communication, for example in
g u j o u r n a l 4 | 1 1 11
JOHAN ÅKERMAN Lives: in Sollentuna Family: wife Maria, twins Hanna and Silas, 7 years, and Pontus, 2.5 years. Age: 41 Work: Professor at the Department of Physics In the news: one of four researchers from the University of Gothenburg to be included in the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ newly established young academy Interests: music, plays piano and organ and enjoys singing in choirs, languages, language history and cultural history What you didn’t know: Johan Åkerman is fluent in French and has been a substitute for a cantor Favourite book: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (25 years ago…). The 100-year-old from last year was also pretty funny. Surreptitiously reads Lars Lönnroth. Favourite film: O Brother, Where Art Thou? Gets happy about: Creating Gets irritated by: Paperwork
Johan Åkerman studies the Cryogenic Probe Station at the Department of Physics; the station can measure temperatures as low as 4–5 Kelvin.
has good quality. But what’s the deal with support functions for research – is there any thought about quality there? It should relieve researchers’ work so that they don’t have to work with complicated procurements or paperwork that will be filed for 25 years. Researchers have to be given a chance to do what they’re good at and not be forced to work with other things.”
This magnet creates a homogeneous field of 1 Tesla, which is 20 000 times stronger than the earth’s magnetic field..
card – my most recent position was in industry and I hadn’t done basic research for four years.” Among the thing s he misses from his time in the US is faculties at which young researchers are given full responsibility early on for running their own research, recruiting doctoral students and post docs and building up the necessary infrastructure. “In Sweden we still believe in empires and large scales. Maybe we inherit that from the spirit of the 1930s. Nothing is uglier than the small scale and self-employment. But our research groups are like small start-up companies, except that they exist firmly in an authority that’s extremely nervous about breaking laws and rules. Instead of investing in the ones that are already big we should do like they do in the US and encourage all kinds of researchers, not least ones that have a different background.” Johan Åkerman thinks that support for young researchers is generally speaking substandard. “We all think that it’s important that research
gujournal 4 | 11
Johan Åkerman is in the Global Young Academy, which works to give young researchers over the whole world the opportunity to work together. He was most recently in Vietnam to create contacts. But now he’s also one of four researchers at the University of Gothenburg who will be a part of the Royal Swedish Academy of Science’s work with Sweden’s young academy. “What’s so exciting about this academy is that it’s going to consist of young researchers from all kinds of different areas – like philosophers, linguists and economists – just as much as physicists and medical doctors. I think that can lead to very many interesting conversations. Should a young academy stand for special values, place higher demands on efforts and assessments, protect any ideals? Or will we just be a gang of opportunists? And what attitude should we have toward the media? We see one consequence of researchers allowing themselves to be steered by television and newspapers: the climate debate isn’t as popular now, despite the fact that the problems are far from being solved. So how do you keep up a debate when the media get tired of you?” Another important issue is the attitude toward fine education, according to Johan Åkerman. “Natural scientists often think that humanists are bound by authorities and different schools while what we do is based on evidence and built on common sense. But natural scientists also put their trust in authorities. And there are interesting develop-
ments in other sciences, like psychiatry. Take the concept of autism, for example, which has swung from first having had to do with pundits to building more and more on scientific data. I’m curious about that.” Johan Åkerman describes himself as a scientific omnivore. Just working with physics would be boring, he thinks. “I like language, language history and cultural history. After my years in Lausanne I very much enjoy speaking French, although with a Swiss dialect. And in contrast to what you might believe, French has also made me better in English. The more languages you learn the more you train yourself in learning languages, understanding similarities and differences, and your studies become all the more interesting.” Still , Johan Åkerman’s great interest is music. He’s played the piano since he was six years old and he’s sung in different choirs, among them the Phoenix Symphony Chorus in the US. “I started to work at Motorola on September 11, 2001, the day of the attack on the World Trade Center. It was a strange start. The first thing I was given to do was go home to ‘be together with my family.’ We were to sing patriotic songs on television and in a concert in the evening on the one year anniversary of the attack. We were told that we’d start with the national anthem. That was embarrassing because tenors, like me, stood furthest to the front and I had no idea about the text.” Johan Åkerman has also played the organ and has been a summer substitute for a cantor in Lund. “It’s interesting to experience the boundary for what the brain can manage. When I play piano I can still talk with people. But at the organ, where you have to use both your hands and your feet together, that isn’t possible. The organ requires, more than anything else, complete, undivided concentration.”
“Successful research” is defined differently in different disciplines, partly because of the character of the research and partly because of disciplinary traditions, sometimes old, sometimes quite new. But even within the same discipline, “successful research” can be defined very differently, depending on who is judging success (or failure, for that matter). In what follows I concentrate on my own discipline – management studies, where I have found four kinds of such judgment. The first is success in the eyes of the research community (local or translocal; successes can also be large or small). It depends on choosing a research topic that is under no one else’s scrutiny, or under the scrutiny of a few researchers, but a topic that will either become fashionable in the community or strongly relevant for the society. The results must be presented in a rhetorically skillful manner, so that the audience can recognize a style, or a unique voice. “Voice” is a metaphor here – I am speaking of writing, as good speakers who are poor writers will have limited success with their peers. But even well-written research is successful only when it finds followers, whether it be those who develop the original thought further, those who test it, or those who criticize it. It is impossible to formulate a pre scription that could guarantee this kind of success, or even make it more likely. What is needed, alas, is talent, luck (historical contingency must play in the hands of the successful researcher) and social attractiveness. As biographies of hugely successful researchers reveal, social attractiveness need not be based on cheerfulness and small talk; sometimes eccentricities ignite great admiration and followership (although only when the other two conditions are present). The second t ype of research judged as successful is evaluated by practitioners, and their criteria are almost the opposite of those that researchers use. The research topics tend to be decided by practitioners themselves, and management problems, like solutions, are widely imitated across the globe. Research that faithfully depicts reality and offers original insights is not viewed enthusiastically: “We know how things are,” managers say, “we need science to tell us how things can be better.” The reaction is different, of course, if the description and the insight can give legitimacy to some plan or initiative of a practitioner or a group of practitioners. Practitioners use normative statements for three purposes: in order to ridicule
photo: Hillevi Nagel
Reflections of a frustrated mentor
them as unrealistic, to use them as comfort against grim realities, or to support their plans. Researchers appreciated by practi tioners are usually good speakers; practitioners do not have the time or the energy to read research, which is why there exist “executive summaries”. When and if they read non-fiction, they prefer a journalistic style, like in books by Naomi Klein, Barbara Ehrenreich or Christopher Hitchens. Again, much inborn talent is needed for writing this way. The last t wo t ypes of research judged as successful are under the control of the researchers to a greater extent than the first two. The third type leads to success in an academic career. Such research usually focuses on a topic that practically everyone else is studying – a topic at the height of fashion – which increases the probability of securing a grant. Published texts usually contain literature reviews (which are called “theory”), because these are the most cited texts in social sciences. There is not much reward in writing research monographs. The rewards are tied to journal articles, and journals should be tactically chosen for the points they provide toward the evaluation of one’s research. Once a priority list of journals has been composed, the astute researcher submits a paper to the journal on the top of the list, proceeding down the list when rejections make it necessary. Submitting papers to journals from another discipline, or to small but highly specialized journals, yields little reward, either. Participation in conferences should also be tactically decided upon, and, once at the conference, the researcher’s social skills must be practiced selectively but per-
Aim for number one, and be content with number four.
sistently. However, a crucial step in such strategy consists in establishing what the local administration counts as successful research, because local differences still persist, in spite of all standardizing. Finally, there is the kind of research that is judged as successful by the researcher and some of the researcher’s kindred spirits. The topic is chosen because it seems fascinating and relevant, and a great deal of thought is devoted to analyzing the reasons behind the selection: “Why do I want to study just that?” The details of this reflection need not be made public in their entirety; the final result is enough. Before starting the actual study, the researcher engages in a thorough literature review – after all, the Internet makes it easy to check if somebody else has already done an identical or similar study. Relevant studies are all quoted, no matter if the field study was done in Washington or in Tirana. The method is then chosen because it seems to fit the topic, and not because a famous person has been using it. The results are presented in the form the researcher finds suitable, with an eye to the future audience. Oral presentations are carefully prepared, on the assumption that written and spoken texts belong to different genres, and that papers are meant to be read in silence. Visual media are employed to enhance the message – but not to overwhelm it. Subsequent studies develop rather than repeat, and reflect alertness to the ongoing scholarly debate and to the concerns of practice. As must be clear by now, this is a kind of self-rewarding success ... Senior researchers are supposed to give advice to younger folk; this is known as mentoring. I must say, though, that of recent I am unwilling to fulfill this function. What should I say? My understanding of the professional ethos would dictate the following advice: aim for number one, and be content with number four. The recent reforms of universities make it clear, however, that the legitimate definition of success lies between numbers two and three. Should I advise young people to choose a road to martyrdom, or a path to a brilliant career? I would like some advice from them on this matter! Barbara Czarniawska Professor of Management Studies at Gothenburg Rese arch Institute (GRI)
This is a shorter version of “Success in research: In whose eyes?” that appeared in European Accounting Review, 2011, 20(1): 53–55. g u j o u r n a l 4 | 1 1 13
text: Allan Eriksson & Eva Lundgren photo: Johan Wingborg
General knowledge – anything for natural scientists? Astronomer Marie Rådbo, chemist Margareta Wedborg and zoologist Stefan Nilsson think so. GU Journal met them to talk about it. Marie Rådbo: What is fine education? It has to do with being able to see the bigger contexts, creating a picture of the world and answering questions like – who am I and where do I exist in the world? I have a hard time seeing that a single narrow field is education, or that certain areas are “finer” than others. All areas of knowledge are based on a desire to understand. Stefan Nilsson: Natural science and mathematics used to have a high status as areas of education, but interest is unfortunately waning. Still, the natural sciences obviously have to do with fine education and our picture of the world. Margareta Wedborg: What surprises me is the lack of curiosity among young people. They’re only interested in “their thing”. And we natural scientists don’t help to wake young people’s curiosity, in spite of the fact that we think it’s exciting to discover new things. There’s also an idea that fine education is something snobby, when instead it has to do with becoming a person: no one should have to live without fine education. Marie: The important thing for me is the whole: knowledge only in the natural sciences is never good. It has to be put into a context. I wish that we could create a concept of fine education where natural sciences are a part of a whole together with the humanities. But the word fine education is actually difficult. It has a ring to it that many people balk at. Stefan: “General knowledge” and “popular education” feel obsolete. Maybe we should find another word. Margareta: Our times are so focused on usefulness, on getting a job after completing an education. I wish that the students 1 4
gujournal 4 | 11
who have studied here would also get a fine education, but the attempts that have been made haven’t been particularly successful. It might be that we’ve answered questions that the students haven’t actually asked or have given compulsory fine education courses. Stefan: In the old “natural science program” at the Faculty of Natural Sciences there used to be a line of internal fine education for all the students there. There wasn’t any huge interest, but since participation was compulsory at least two times, the last sessions were completely full. Fine education takes time. When so much else has to find room in an education program there just isn’t enough time. Marie: I had a course once where the students also got to read fiction that they chose themselves but that had to be approved by the teachers. It was really successful, but that course isn’t offered any more. There’s a risk that modern technology leads to young people getting more and more narrow areas of interest: it’s to easy to google exactly the information you want and then you’re not confronted with new areas and perspectives. That’s why there’s an imminent risk that our picture of the world will become more and more limited, which works against the concept of fine education. People don’t care about other things. Margareta: Google is excellent if a person does have a fine education, but it’s a peril otherwise! Marie: More and more has to do with a “quick fix”, that things have to go quickly and simply. Losing weight for the summer for example has to go over the course of a few days – or even when you sleep, as I read the other day in the news.
Fractal fern made in 200 000 replications in the Matlab computer program, by Lennart Falk at Mathematic Sciences.
Stefan: We natural scientists might be seen as disagreeable when we say that myths about losing weight quickly, about homeopathy and such things are lies. Sometimes it seems like there’s a desire to believe in simple solutions. Margareta: Many people also believe that there’s a controversy between natural science and religion, but that’s not actually true. There are dimensions of our
There’s also an idea that fine education is something snobby, when instead it has to do with becoming a person
existence that can be important for many people but that science has no perception about. People are also suspicious of research because of failures in school medicine. And of course there’s a conceivable connection between research and the pharmaceutical industry. Most recently it had to do with a research report that shows that there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prescribe medicines that reduce cholesterol for prevention purposes. These medicines are prescribed routinely now at a very large cost to society and profits for pharmaceutical companies. Stefan: It has to do with teaching a critical approach, and offering this is actually the primary task of a university. But after 44 years in teaching I can say that we haven’t been particularly successful. Sometimes I make some silly remark in a lecture to see whether the students will react but that doesn’t happen often. Margareta: Natural science, not least my subject, chemistry, probably has a bad reputation. It’s because in part that at the
beginning of the last century there was such optimism about development, and natural science and technology were seen as the solution to all problems. Natural scientists who were educated, but didn’t particularly have any fine education, were allowed to decide about things, which led for instance to lots of emissions of chemicals that have been devastating. Stefan: It’s also important that there’s criticism of natural sciences. For example, Mats-Eric Nilsson writes well about chemicals in foods. But I think he gets too hung up on the business of E numbers – is it better that people get botulism than that they ingest some preservatives? Or the colouring E162 that’s actually just beet juice? But of course there are unnecessary and unpleasant E numbers, colouring being among them. Marie: We can’t even begin to imagine today’s society without the enormous technical developments of the 1900s, and compared with other countries we Swedes are quick to adopt them. Still, many young people say that they’re not interested in natural science and technology. Or, more correctly, most of them don’t want to study these subjects. You can see this not least in the climate debate that has a tendency to be only emotional. We have to take care of our environment, absolutely, but the argument has to rely on facts. Otherwise we can cause even more worries. Margareta: An unfortunate example is the lower taxes for ethanol which shows that knowledge of natural science would definitely be an advantage among politicians and officials. People simply have to know things to be able to make good decisions. Marie: The University of Gothenburg is very broad, which is something we’re proud of. But how do we use that? We should have excellent opportunities to work together over different subject boundaries, but fees for OH for example and administrative obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult. I hope that the University’s re-organisation will bring improvements in that respect, even if I haven’t seen anything to indicate that yet.
Margareta: I’d like to see more places where students from different disciplines can have contact, where they can sit down and discuss things with each other.
– that was a big thing. But genetic techno logy today is far too subtle to capture young people’s interest. Sputnik was an event, a date, big headlines!
Marie: Maybe we can learn from people in the humanities who are starting a program in Liberal Arts. Maybe we should have “Liberal Nature” – a really crossdisciplinary program where students get basic knowledge for three years and then can do a Master with some special orientation. Of course, we’d have to convince the labour market that this kind of education is necessary, but it probably wouldn’t be impossible.
Margareta: But natural science can be taught in many different ways: for example, Gun Lund choreographs particle dances and the Allika Theatre performs them, together with teachers from the Faculty of Natural Sciences in performances for children about science at Universeum. Natural science can also be woven into handicraft in a very natural way. Can it even be that certain complicated conditions can be best explained through dance and other types of art?
Stefan: People often say that the natural sciences are so hard, but then they mix up natural science fine education with education. It’s true that complicated math is needed to get through many of the natural science programs but it isn’t hard to read popular science even if you’re not very good at math. But I guess the term “popular science” shouldn’t be used anymore. Margareta: It isn’t only natural scientists who have to study hard – people who want to be musicians also have to work, but there young people seem to be able to sacrifice everything. It’s important to understand that you have to have a certain basic knowledge to be able to take in new knowledge. It worries me that schools have gotten worse at laying a good foundation. New class differences get built into society when not everyone is given the knowledge it takes to develop further. Marie: Interest in natural sciences has to be stimulated early. Young children are curious and ask a thousand questions. But the problem is that teachers in the lower and middle schools don’t have enough knowledge – they may even be a little afraid of the natural sciences and transfer that to the children. We adults have a responsibility to develop children’s spontaneous curiosity. Stefan: I remember the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. It got me so interested in Russia that I started to study Russian in high school. Later I even met Jurij Gagarin
a new publication about general knowledge
Journal: Fine Education in the Natural Sciences is being developed in a project about fine education run by the Grundtvig Institute. The editor is Stefan Nilsson, Professor Emeritus of zoophysiology and neurobiologist and a long time member of Alltinget, a question program on the Swedish Radio. Marie Rådbo, lecturer in astromony at the Department of Physics, vice dean of the Faculty of Natural Science, has received several prizes as a lecturer and author of books that make astronomy available to children and adults. Her most recent book is Ögon
känsliga för stjärnor (Eyes that are Sensitive to Stars). Margareta Wedborg, professor of marine analytical chemistry, has participated in several expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic and is a teacher with a keen interest in fine education. Other participating authors: Lars Johan Erkell, Associate Professor in zoophysiology, Peter Sjömar, Ph.D. in architecture, and Kerstin Wiklander, Lecturer in mathe matical statistics. Project leader: Eva Mark.
Tips for good books on popular science Dava Sobel: Longitude
Mark Kurlansky: Salt
Umberto Eco: The Island of the Day Before (On the problems of the establishment of longitude)
David E. Brody & Arnold R. Brody: The Science Class You Wish You Had: The Seven Greatest Scientific Discoveries in History and the People Who Made Them
David Bodanis: E=mc2. A Biography of the World’s Most Famous Equation David Bodanis: Electric Universe: How Electricity Switched On the Modern World
An enthusiastic recommendation also for the British journal New Scientist that follows news in the world of science every week.
g u j o u r n a l 4 | 1 1 15
Published on Jun 20, 2011