Project

Making Universities Matter: A Knowledge Platform on the Role of Universities in Society

Goal: Within this knowledge platform – funded by Vinnova – we set out to understand how universities arrange their activities and how they are aligned with different interests in society.

More specifically, the platform will study how the blend of missions and tasks of universities has evolved over time, and will relate that mix to institutional specificities such as state governance and how universities interact with students, scientific communities, and stakeholders in industry, government and civil society. It also seeks to elucidate crossnational differences and similarities in the institutionalization (and change) of universities: in Sweden and other countries in Europe, and through relevant comparisons with the evolution of university roles in North America and Asia.

The platform also aims to engage in policy debates on universities, providing policy relevant briefs and serving as a forum for topical discussion.

The platform is run in collaboration between KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Lund University, and engages a number of scholars from the two universities – as well as affiliated policy fellows from around the world.

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Project log

Eugenia Ximena Perez Vico
added a research item
The concept of a Knowledge Triangle, i.e. the principle of strengthening the linkages between research, education and innovation, has emerged as a result of policymakers’ expectations on universities to assume a broader societal responsibility. Yet, little is known about how these tasks and their interaction are orchestrated at universities. We explore how they are manifested in the organisation and strategy of three different Swedish universities, and how the policy landscape conditions these manifestations. The chapter highlights that although the knowledge triangle remains a priority, explicit national policies are lacking, with the responsibility of integration falling on universities themselves. We observe a great diversity in how knowledge principles are orchestrated at the universities, e.g. through individuals’ interpretations and attitudes, and through management strategies and incentive schemes. The three tasks have largely been handled separately, with weak coordination and generally limited ambitions from university managements to forge new combinations of remits. At the individual and group level, we observe weak task articulation, although some role models serve as inspiration. Tensions emerge as the responsibilities of operationalising the Knowledge Triangle falls on individuals who sometimes lack the appropriate mandate and resources. These findings raise questions for further research and implications for policy and university management.
Linus Salö
added a research item
In this chapter we examine the value held by national languages, here Swedish, in the scholarly career trajectories in non-Anglophone countries. To this end, we analyse the language policies of Swedish higher education institutions and the narrated perceptions of two international recruits. Adopting Pierre Bourdieu’s distinction between scientific and academic capital, we argue that Swedish language skills constitute a vital asset in processes of accruing power in Sweden’s scientific world. Hence, as we maintain, English is not all that matters, despite internationalization being high on the agenda.
Sylvia Schwaag Serger
added a research item
In this edited volume, around 25 academics from Sweden and the US write about how universities can, should and do act in response to threats and opportunities induced by ongoing societal and technological transformations and challenges. The individual contributions differ in character. Some are predominantly idea-driven and conceptual, while others deal with concrete processes of change within individual universities.
Linus Salö
added a research item
Contributing authors: Sverker Sörlin, Mats Benner, Tobias Dalberg, Per Wisselgren, Linnea Hanell, Fredrik Bertilsson, Sara Edenheim, Louise Bringselius, Ulrika Bjare, Eugenia Perez Vico & Björn Hammarfelt. https://www.dialogosforlag.se/bocker/samhallsfragor/humanvetenskapernas-verkningar.html
Linus Salö
added an update
Here is a new book (in Swedish) with contributions by several MUM members, including Eugenia Ximena Perez Vico Sverker Sörlin Ulrika Bjare, Mats Benner and Linus Salö. https://www.dialogosforlag.se/bocker/samhallsfragor/humanvetenskapernas-verkningar.html
Introduction and table of content can be seen here:
 
Linus Salö
added a research item
Introduction and list of content, this book: https://www.dialogosforlag.se/bocker/samhallsfragor/humanvetenskapernas-verkningar.html
Linus Salö
added 2 research items
This article presents an edited conversation between Kenneth Hyltenstam, Christopher Stroud, Linus Salö and David Karlander. Its main topic is the rise and consolidation of bilingualism research/multilingualism research as a demarcated subject area in Swedish academe. The article delves into this history via the professional, scholarly trajectories of Hyltenstam and Stroud. By mapping and discussing their involvement in the field of bilingualism/multilingualism, the article offers analytical perspectives on the formation of the field, and on the general atmosphere surrounding this process. The account focuses on past and current research themes, institutional settings and modes of knowledge exchange. The creation of the Centre for Research on Bilingualism at Stockholm University in the 1980s emerges as a significant event in the evolving account of the research area. The conversation also makes clear that the history of bi/multilingualism research encompasses a variety of agents and interests. The subject area maintains mutable connections to numerous other scientific disciplines and is susceptible to various forms of intellectual influence. It has likewise been shaped in relation to various scholarly and societal values and concerns. By clarifying some of these dynamics, the article contributes to the yet-to-be-written history of bi/multilingualism research. It also comments on conversation as a scholarly method, and clarifies the scope and strength of its claims.
Linus Salö
added an update
Utredningen om ett utvecklat innovationsstöd vid lärosätena (SOU 2020:59) riktar tydligt in sig på kommersialisering för industriell utveckling. Men nyttiggörande av forskning är ett bredare begrepp, skriver vi här:
 
Linus Salö
added an update
Here is an interesting PhD candidate position (fully funded) on quality cultures in the humanities. Note, however, that the ability to read Swedish texts (e.g. source material) is a requirement.
 
Linus Salö
added a research item
This article utilizes Bourdieu's sociology to grasp the relations between linguistic practice and spatiality, and, through that effort, to position language as a pivotal terrain in internationalizing academe. Empirically, it explores Swedish academe and the linguistic practices of its dwellers: Swedish-speaking and non-Swedish-speaking researchers in four disciplines. Here, Swedish co-exists with English as a lingua franca and other languages. Observational and interview data show that this situation gives rise to complex linguistic practices in the workplace, consisting of speakers alternating between Swedish and English or evading other languages. Following Bourdieu, these phenomena manifest in moments when matters of space are rendered salient. They show that linguistic practice is bound up with space to the extent that their interrelationship becomes discernable only when the spatial logic that confines linguistic practices is rejigged. While linguistic practices seemingly operate on a location-based principle, they actually pertain to speakers’ linguistic habitus in relation to the linguistic market conditions in play. (Linguistic practice, space, internationalizing academe)*
Anders Hylmö
added a research item
Centrumsatsningar utgör en relativt ny form av forsknings-och innovationsstöd som etablerats på bred front i många länders forskningssystem de senaste decennierna. En centrumsatsning är ett storskaligt, långsiktigt och oftast tvärvetenskapligt stöd till forskarmiljöer som syftar till att stödja internationellt framstående starka forskningsmiljöer med kritisk massa och långa tidshorisonter. Centrumsatsningar har också ofta ekonomiska mål i form av behovsmotiverad grundforskning i samverkan syftande till innovation, eller strategiska mål i form av lösningar på identifierade samhällsutmaningar. Kapitlet inleds med en diskussion kring vad som utmärker och särskiljer denna stödform från andra former av offentlig forskningsfinansiering, följt av en genomgång av målsättningar och bakomliggande resonemang. Därpå diskuteras kort den internationella policykontexten, varefter en kort översikt över 25 år av svenska centrumsatsningar presenteras. Slutligen sammanställs några lärdomar om effekter av och utmaningar med centrumsatsningar från tidigare svenska och internationella studier av centrumprogram. Kapitlet avslutas med ett antal slutsatser i form av rekommendationer, här i sammanfattad form: • Centrumsatsningar är en form av forsknings-och innovationsstöd som utvecklats baserat på lokala behov,internationella lärdomar och goda erfarenheter under 25 år, och bör ses som en beprövad, specialiserad finansieringsform som svarar mot specifika behov, bland andra i det svenska forskningssystemet. • Utformningen av centrumprogram bör ta hänsyn till att det inte tycks finnas en känd optimal storlek för centrumfinansiering, och att en viss flexibilitet därför är påkallad. • Finansiärer bör vara medvetna om att centrumsatsningar innebär en balansgång mellan å ena sidan premierande av redan framstående forskargrupper med risk för konservativa effekter, och å andra sidan stöd till risktagande och mer osäkra projekt i utlysningen av centrummedel. • Finansiärer och lärosäten bör ta aktiv ställning till hur avveckling av centrumfinansiering ska hanteras strategiskt, vilket i sin tur är kopplat till hur man uppfattar syftet med centrumsatsningar. • De systemförändrande effekterna av centrumsatsningar tycks försvagas i system med många finansiärer och finansieringskällor som det svenska, vilket bör beaktas både av finansiärer och på systemnivå.
Linus Salö
added 5 research items
It has often been claimed that English has emerged as the lingua franca of teaching and research at universi- ties across the globe. This entry provides an overview of language use within higher education internationally, with a particular view to highlighting conditions within the human sciences—that is, the social sciences and the humanities. The entry centres on English as the medium of research, understood primarily as publishing, and English medium instruction (EMI). It begins by providing a brief historical overview.
‘A thoughtful study of the importance of language choice for making scholarly findings known to the world.’ — Dr Florian Coulmas, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany This book presents a sociolinguistics of academic publishing from an historical and contemporary perspective. Using Swedish academia as a case study, it focuses on publishing practices within history and psychology. The author demonstrates how new regimes of research evaluation and performance-based funding are impinging on university life. His central argument, following the French sociologist Bourdieu, is that the trend towards publishing in English should be understood as a social strategy, developed in response to such transformations. Thought-provoking and challenging, this book will interest students and scholars of sociolinguistics, language planning and language policy, research policy, sociology of science, history and psychology.
Det centrala mediet för vetenskaplig produktion har sedan länge varit text. Med tiden har särskilt tidskriftsartikeln blivit den dominerande skriftliga genren.
Eugenia Ximena Perez Vico
added 2 research items
This article provides new insights into the consequences of university–industry collaboration for the content and conduct of academic research by analysing the Swedish research funding programme for the so-called ‘materials consortia’, in place between 1990 and 2000. Using secondary sources, the analysis highlights the causality in university–industry collaboration and the impact of such collaboration on the academic research environments involved. While the funding programme was clearly aimed at influencing the conduct of academic research, impacts are seen mostly in content. Also, collaborative activities with long-term positive outcomes grew organically rather than top-down, with mutual trust and recognition at the operational level of great importance. The policy implications include the realization that the durability of efforts, from funders as well as at the operational level, is key to achieving deeper added value in university–industry collaborations. The article contributes to a deepened and broadened understanding of the multidimensionality of university–industry collaborations and their effects on research.
The aim of this study was to explore how consequences from a university-wide partnership unfolded at various levels within a university and induced intra-organizational dynamics. This was achieved via an in-depth investigation of “The Bridge,” a collaborative partnership between the young mid-range Swedish Linnaeus University (“Average Joe”) and the home furnishing retail giant IKEA, which despite its global reach has only limited research capacity (the “Inexperienced Superstar”). Based on previous research that conceptualizes consequences of collaborations as changes in wide-ranging resource categories over time, this article develops a conceptual framework that advances the understanding of the consequences of collaborative efforts at both the level of faculty individuals and groups, as well as on a university-wide level. The study identified both differences and similarities between the two levels related to material, knowledge, and social resource mobilization, and revealed consequent tensions within the university due to an imbalance in material resource mobilization and social resource mobilization. The resource-based multi-level perspective that this study puts forward enables a more fine-grained and dynamic understanding of the conditions for undertaking and organizing university-wide long-term collaborative efforts.
Linus Salö
added a research item
In this paper we examine the value held by national languages, here Swedish, in the scholarly career trajectories in non-Anglophone countries. To this end, we analyze the language policies of Swedish higher education institutions and the narrated perceptions of two international recruits. Adopting Pierre Bourdieu's distinction between scientific and academic capital, we argue that Swedish language skills constitute a vital asset in processes of accruing power in Sweden's scientific world. Hence, as we maintain, English is not all that matters, despite internationalization being high on the agenda.
Linus Salö
added 4 research items
Linus Salö
added a research item
For half a century or more, semilingualism has been a controversial-much debated and much derided-idea. The present paper engages with some facets of this history. It traces the formation and early circulation in its context of origin: Sweden's nascent fields of bilingualism research and minority education. The paper analyzes semilingualism as a 'traveling idea', which has moved through networks of actors over an extended period of time. In Sweden from the late 1950s to the early 1980s, semilingualism was a key theme a range of discursive exchanges. It circulated in scholarly discussions about bilingualism and linguistic competence, and surged as a central theme in political debates on minority education, immigration and language policy. It likewise recurred in the media, and in various articulations of public opinion. In the course these travels, the idea of semilingualism became more and more implicated in the processes of revising Sweden's policies on linguistic minorities. By the 1970s, as the paper argues, the idea had begun to function as a 'policy-driver', which aided the 1977 nationwide introduction of the school subject of mother tongue instruction (MTI) for minority students. While most linguists have come to dismiss semilingualism as a scientifically flawed concept, the idea of semilingualism, as the paper shows, had nevertheless a decisive impact in policy making. This impact is still visible the inclusion of MTI in Sweden's national curriculum. This societal impact of this sociolinguistic idea, as well as the lasting consequences thereof, points to the importance of a reflexive sociolinguistics, which takes interest in the life and afterlife of the ideas it produces. The paper contributes to this endeavor.
Linus Salö
added a research item
This article investigates mother tongue instruction (MTI) in Sweden and Denmark in a historical, comparative perspective, with a view to accounting for key differences in language policy enacted in educational fields. Whereas in Sweden, MTI is offered to linguistic minority children irrespective of their linguistic and ethnic backgrounds, in Denmark the right to state-sponsored MTI has been abolished for children of non-European descent. Moreover, while the policies of both states devalue skills in mother tongues other than the legitimate language of each society, this position is more pronounced in the Danish context. The article explores the two state’s position on MTI, as expressed in policy as well as in discourse produced in the political and academic field of each state. It subscribes to Pierre Bourdieu’s framework, within which state policy is conceived as the product of historical struggle and cross-field effects. The analysis shows that the national differences in MTI exist because of the differing ways in which agents from the academic vis-à-vis the political field have succeeded in imposing their visions in the bureaucratic field from which policies are produced. Ultimately, this circumstance explains why the Swedish discussion on MTI may be characterized as having been academically founded, while the Danish discussion has remained a matter of political consideration. In the latter case, we argue, it is particularly tangible that MTI is a politicized object of struggle, where agents seek to control the exchange rate of linguistic resources and, in effect, the social worth of different speakers.
Linus Salö
added a research item
The dominance of English in scientific production raises issues in relation to certain responsibilities of Swedish universities, linked to the dissemination of knowledge and the development of the Swedish language. In light of this, the article deals with Swedish-language summaries (SLSs) in English-language doctoral theses. It treats the SLS as an instrument of language regimentation, deliberately aimed at limiting the near-total dominance of English. Drawing on language policy documents , along with scholarly accounts and interview data, the article discusses the SLS as conceived by advocates in language policy and planning, university policy-makers, and active researchers. It is shown that the SLS is aimed at counteracting negative effects pertaining to knowledge outreach as well as register formation. I argue that there is a contradiction between these two aims: on the one hand, an SLS that is simple enough to bridge the gap between science and society is not likely to contribute to the expansion of advanced registers of Swedish; on the other hand, an SLS that takes seriously the task of expanding Swedish registers will be unintelligible for the wider audience. Yet, it may still serve as a reminder that languages other than English are worthy of consideration and use.
Linus Salö
added a research item
The dominance of English in scientific production raises issues in relation to certain responsibilities of Swedish universities, linked to the dissemination of knowledge and the development of the Swedish language. In light of this, the current paper deals with Swedish-language summaries (SLSs) in English-language doctoral theses. It treats the SLS as an instrument of language regimentation, deliberately aimed at limiting the near-total dominance of English. Drawing on language policy documents at the national and university level, along with scholarly accounts and interview data, the paper discusses the SLS as conceived by advocates in language policy and planning, university policymakers, and practitioners, that is, active researchers. It is shown that the SLS is aimed at counteracting negative effects pertaining to knowledge outreach as well as register formation. I argue that there is a contradiction between these two aims: on the one hand, an SLS that is simple enough to bridge the gap between science and society is not likely to contribute to expanding advanced registers of Swedish; on the other hand, an SLS that takes seriously the task of expanding Swedish registers will be unintelligible for the wider audience. Yet, it may still serve as a reminder that languages other than English are worthy of consideration and use.
Eugenia Ximena Perez Vico
added 4 research items
Universities are operating in a rapidly changing global context – with growing mobility, intensifying competition for students and talent, changing demands and new methods of education, as well as growing expectations on contributing to societal development together with relevant stakeholders. In Sweden, the higher education law of 1997 made interaction with surrounding society an official “third task” of Swedish institutions for higher education (HEIs). In support of HEIs’ efforts to adopt a more systematic approach to societal interaction and leverage collaboration with other actors to strengthen the quality of research and education, Swedish policymakers and agencies have been working to support efforts to develop universities’ interaction with society. Vinnova (Sweden’s innovation agency) promotes sustainable growth by funding needs-driven research and stimulating collaborations between companies, universities, research institutes and the public sector. In addition, Vinnova provides expertise to government on the development of innovation policy, and serves as the national contact agency for the EU framework programme for research and innovation. In response to national policy developments and a government assignment (in early 2013) “to develop methods and criteria for assessing the performance and quality of universities’ interaction with surrounding society”, Vinnova has led a collaborative process together with Swedish HEIs over the last four years (see Figure 1 below). The process has involved a combination of exploration and knowledge development, through international benchmarking and other studies, as well as interactive workshops and continual dialogue, and experimentation and operational development, through projects and pilots to mobilize and inspire activities and strategic change. The process has resulted in the development and testing of a model for evaluating HEIs’ role in society. This kind of model for evaluation could be used to develop and reform existing systems for allocation of funding to Swedish HEIs by including quality and performance in societal interaction as a parameter. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the process has helped to catalyze changes in both perceptions and attitudes about, and approaches for integrating societal interaction into core operations in Swedish HEIs. This has served as a successful first step in developing HEIs’ role in society – and is part of an ongoing change process in Sweden.
The concept of a knowledge triangle, i.e., the principle of strengthening the linkages between research, education and innovation, has emerged as a result of policymakers' expectations that universities assume a broader societal responsibility. Yet, little is known about how these tasks and their interactions are orchestrated at universities. We explore concept of how the knowledge triangle is manifested in the organisation and strategy of three different Swedish universities, and how these manifestations are shaped by the policy landscape. The article highlights the fact that although the knowledge triangle remains a priority, explicit national policies are lacking, with the responsibility of integration falling upon universities themselves. We observe great diversity in how the principles of the knowledge triangle are orchestrated at the universities, e.g., through individuals' interpretations and attitudes, and through management strategies and incentive schemes. However, the three tasks have largely been handled separately, with weak coordination and generally limited ambition demonstrated by university management teams to forge new combinations of remits. At the individual and group levels, we observe weak task articulation, although some role models serve as inspiration. Tensions emerge as the responsibilities of operationalising the knowledge triangle falls on individuals who sometimes lack the appropriate mandate and resources. These findings raise questions for further research and implications for policy and university management.
Eugenia Ximena Perez Vico
added a project goal
Within this knowledge platform – funded by Vinnova – we set out to understand how universities arrange their activities and how they are aligned with different interests in society.
More specifically, the platform will study how the blend of missions and tasks of universities has evolved over time, and will relate that mix to institutional specificities such as state governance and how universities interact with students, scientific communities, and stakeholders in industry, government and civil society. It also seeks to elucidate crossnational differences and similarities in the institutionalization (and change) of universities: in Sweden and other countries in Europe, and through relevant comparisons with the evolution of university roles in North America and Asia.
The platform also aims to engage in policy debates on universities, providing policy relevant briefs and serving as a forum for topical discussion.
The platform is run in collaboration between KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Lund University, and engages a number of scholars from the two universities – as well as affiliated policy fellows from around the world.