Henrik Cederquist. Photo: Niklas Björling

During the summer, the Department of Mathematics and the Stockholm Resilience Centre moved into new buildings in Albano where their new neighbours may offer additional opportunities for collaborations and interactions. For my part, the work began with two retreats. One with the faculty- and one with the university leadership – both groups met at the Tovetorp Zoological Research Station. The retreats and the preparations before them are, as intended, good ways to start the planning of the work for the fall and beyond. Meetings of these types, with around 15 and 6 participants respectively, and with mainly informal discussions, are ideal for small research station settings, like for examples the Tovetorp and Askö stations close to Stockholm. The prefects and directors are already quite familiar with Tovetorp after their retreat there in May. I don't know whether it was the relaxing and beautiful location or some other pleasant circumstances, but after discussing the distribution of the faculty’s governmental funds for research and research education (FUF) – a topic where opinions sometimes differ strongly, we managed to enjoy the following dinner in a good and very friendly spirit. From my point of view, the discussions and the event as such were quite successful. It is probably a good idea to organize retreats like this about once per year, with different main topics every time.

Discussions of the FUF-distribution will continue during the fall and in the working group (“Arbetsutskottet” with student representatives and the four section vice-chairs), which has been charged with this task by the Area Board (“Områdesnämnden”). The main take home message from the prefect-retreat was that the faculty should support additional costs related to strategic external research grants to a larger extent than today. This view will be picked up by the working group and in the continued dialogue with prefects and center directors. 

Stockholm University's strategies

At the university leadership retreat, we made a first review of an almost complete, nine-page (appendices excluded) draft of Stockholm University's strategies for 2023-2026. According to earlier discussions, Stockholm University's 16 profile areas will be included as an appendix to the document. Related to this, the University President has charged us with the task to go through the profile area texts and to make smaller necessary changes with the headings intact. The new strategies are a natural development of the present ones. As before, they express ambitious goals for research and teaching, and identify areas with clear potential for improvement – a prime example here is EU-funding where we clearly can do even better than today. We will also need to consider the future profile area application for the expected new process on the allocation of performance-related governmental funding to Swedish universities. Within the faculty management, we discussed the work on a new strategic plan for the area for the same period, as well as the work to develop a new two-year action plan. For this we have a smaller working group to make a draft strategic plan in close dialogue with the Area Board. The working group consists of the Dean of the Faculty, the Vice Dean of the Faculty and the Chair of the Committee for Undergraduate Education.

Unfortunately, the process for profile-area applications for performance-based allocation of funding to the universities remains unclear. The Swedish Research Council sent the requested proposal for process, announcement and evaluation, to the Ministry of Education and Research on 30 May 2022, but has not yet received an answer. An answer can probably not be expected in the near future due to the election and its aftermath. If there is an announcement, the current N-profile area of "Climate, Sea and Environment" will be an important component with widening both within N and towards Human Science. Much is unclear here and I see no reason to call a meeting with the corresponding working group until we have more information. 

Quality assurance for research

The dialogues regarding quality assurance for research will continue during the autumn of 2022 as well as during 2023. We are also awaiting the first draft of the focus evaluation reports for the research environments of geomorphology and glaciology, as well as for computational mathematics. These first drafts will be submitted to the faculty leadership for possible corrections of any factual or obvious misunderstandings before they are finalised as official reports. It is likely that one or two additional focus evaluations will be initiated during 2022. We also expect two external evaluations during this autumn where we have asked for advice on the possible creation of a competitive centre for radiation science at Stockholm university.

Lifelong learning

On the teaching side, we have been tasked by the Government to present a compilation of courses suitable for lifelong learning and transition study grants (“omställningsstudiestöd”). A problem here is that the transition study grants intended for the transition and skills development of professionals must be implemented using existing resources for education, i.e. to be financed within the so-called “takbelopp” (maximum funding for teaching and education at the faculty). Regardless of this, preliminary discussions were held at the faculty retreat on the various possibilities to expand our education portfolio such that we increase student-recruitment and possibly also fill some competence gaps for society at the same time. 


Finally, I would like to mention that further possible actions for gender equality are under discussion with focus on examining the ways in which the academic household work is distributed (which could start with a compilation by the faculty office of centrally available material), on mentoring programmes, and on a pilot project with gender equality observers in two of our four appointments committees. 

This was just a small selection of what will be discussed and dealt with at the faculty in the near future. I more than suspect that department leaderships as well as individual employees are working on their own "to-do lists", which may be long and have many hurdles. At the same time, we are probably all looking forward to an academic year without pandemic restrictions, which, for the first time in two years, will make it possible to address interesting challenges with all our resources up and running as normal.