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Read Vice-Chancellor Johan Schnürer’s speech (summary)

You are all very welcome to Örebro University's academic celebration 2018. I would like to extend a particular welcome to the 4 professors, 4 honorary doctors, 35 PhDs, and our award winners who will be honoured today. This is your ceremony and banquet!

In an international perspective, Swedish higher education institutions are favoured with solid funding of both research and education. They shall in turn use these resources to seek new knowledge through research, educate students on the basis of science and proven experience, engage with society and community, communicate the progress of science, and actively promote the utilisation of research findings.

Higher education institutions must also be able to represent a creative and critical mindset, as well as the quality-assured knowledge – even if it happens to be inconvenient to policy makers, business or religion. It has been said that higher education institutions should be society's "critical mirror". And perhaps you do not always like what you see in the mirror on an early morning in February?

As pillars of society, universities now play a particularly important role in defending liberal democracy. The culture prevailing within academia, with the testing of hypotheses, the respectful dialogue, the evaluation of sources, has become all the more important in our everyday existence and is indispensable in the education of our students. This will be our unique contribution to the future!


2017 has been a very busy year for Örebro University with achievements in both education and research. We have been host to a number of prominent guests, among them two of the 2017 Nobel laureates in physiology and medicine. We also embarked on a journey towards a new vision and strategic goals for the next five-year period. The vision we are now working towards is:

Örebro University – leading towards a knowledge-driven society

This vision statement sums up our ambition to be prominent and leading within both research and education: it also expresses our great dedication to contribute to positive developments in society and to do so with knowledge and competence.

Örebro University is already a very attractive university and out of more than 20,000 universities in the world, it ranks among the top 400. We offer a wide range of high quality degree programmes – all immensely sought after on the job market. However, to guarantee the quality of our continued development, it is essential that Örebro University increases its research volume. It is also important that our researchers become even more successful in their research funding applications.

In working with formulating our new vision, it became evident that we as a university should more clearly emphasise the significance of Bildung in all our activities. The concept of Bildung is closely linked to culture, and early last autumn I chose just that as the theme for these celebrations. Late autumn, when the #metoo movement drew our attention to the presence of a different kind of culture in a wide range of sectors and industries, I must admit, there were times when I doubted how wise my choice had been. There is absolutely no place, however, for this kind of destructive culture at a university and I am very pleased that we have expressed our rejection of abuse and all types of harassment or offensive conduct. The work towards a sound university culture does, however, not end with a joint statement or a policy document – it is a continuous effort.

In this light, positive culture has a particularly important role to play. I am very pleased that our School of Music, Theatre and Art contributes to the cultural scene, both on campus and in town. I am delighted at their collaboration with the critically acclaimed Swedish Chamber Orchestra, providing the musical setting here today, and their Chief Conductor Thomas Dausgaard, who is also one of today's honorary doctors.

Örebro University also collaborates with a wide range of other public and private stakeholders, all of which support, in their different ways, research, education and the development of our University.

One of these collaborations concerns 3D printing. With it, Swedish research is facing new demands – and opportunities. Highly trained engineers with the right skills will be in demand and we now anticipate great opportunities to develop both our research on 3D printing and our Master of Science in Engineering as part of one of our focus areas; Technology development in collaboration.

Another multidisciplinary focus area is Food and health, where sensory science plays an important part. I am therefore happy that we have been able to allocate resources to the School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science for the development of a sensory laboratory.

Successful ageing, with its multidisciplinary research school, will now incorporate a research project involving the Greek island of Ikaria. There, life expectancy is particularly high – most likely a result of genetics, a healthy lifestyle and good and nutritious food. This is now to be researched in collaboration with Greek colleagues.

Meanwhile, the most challenging of our focus areas is the initiative to build Sweden's best teacher programme. Our teacher programme is the University's most important programme – it is the foundation for all education. I am therefore very happy with the cooperation we have with schools and other partners in and around Örebro.

I would like to close this speech by saying something about the developments within Artificial Intelligence. Being able to provide machines with intelligence that mimics that of man, combined with a tremendous computational ability – and with the inability to get tired, bored or asking for time off in lieu or seeking many "likes" on social media – may seem like a dream or a nightmare.

Globally, AI is big business and there are concerns that Sweden will fall behind. One of the country's leading research environments within AI can be found at Örebro University. The high quality of the research pursued here has secured us a place in national research clusters. Combining our strengths in engineering, computer science and algorithms with our competence in other disciplines, would enable us not only to develop AI but also to study the prerequisites for AI becoming something that is good to society – or something that will cause major problems. Plans for such multidisciplinearity are underway.

I would like to finish by once more quoting our vision statement:

- leading towards a knowledge-driven society

Through our ambitions of becoming a prominent university leading towards a knowledge and Bildung-driven society – we want to contribute to a better, sustainable and democratic future. The persons soon entering the stage have all contributed to taking a few steps towards the realisation of this vision.


Now we will move on to the professorial inauguration and doctoral award ceremony.