November 2015 – Paving the way for research collaborations in Asia

The Swedish Academic Collaboration Forum (SACF) has now taken two steps further in the series of jointly organised seminars. I have had the pleasure of leading two Lund University delegations to two separate seminars, one in Singapore 2-5 November and one in Shanghai, China, 16-19 November. All in all, thirteen researchers from seven faculties at Lund University took part in the two seminars.

The objective of the seminars was to increase Singapore and Shanghai’s knowledge of Swedish research and to facilitate meetings between leading researchers from the two countries. Hopefully this will lead to long lasting connections that lead to fruitful collaborations in both a short and a long-term perspective. The immediate objective is to address and discuss issues facing our societies and world today by way of utilising our joint expertise in several research areas, such as:

Materials Science
Ageing Society
Sustainable Development
Urban Planning

In the feedback received, a large proportion of the participating researchers stated that they found the seminars valuable, but often in different ways. Some established new contacts in Singapore and in Shanghai. Some connected with fellow colleagues from other Swedish universities. A clear outcome was the fact that it is very valuable to learn about the Asian perspective of global challenges of today. And how, for example, the Chinese university system works.

Coming up next year is two more seminars, one in Indonesia and one in Brazil. And a final seminar in Stockholm next autumn that will sum up the learning we have made during this series of seminars and take it to the next level.

For more information on the respective seminars, please visit the SACF website


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Africa and Paris: “If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together”

This week started in a very positive way but ended tragically.

Our Africa day on 10 November meant the start of a deepening and concretization of the work that Lund University’s Africa Group has been planning since they were established. Bringing together researchers and students from different parts of the University in order to discuss cross boundary collaboration was one of the goals. Tthere was a speed dating, research match making of ongoing projects related to the African continent, and valuable presentations of what we can do together with our African colleagues, and what actually is going on in some parts of Africa, including a report from the Africa correspondent for the national newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

The Swedish Ambassador to Nigeria and Ghana, H.E. Svante Kilander presented the situation in Nigeria, this huge country that in two generations time will have doubled their population. There are great expectations and hope for the future, not at least because of the recent results of the election. Education is the way forward, the Ambassador pointed out.

Professor Margret C Lee, from the University of North Carolina, gave the stories of five ”unsung heroes” in Africa – five persons’ lives and efforts for a better Africa. I think we all were very touched by these stories which gave inspiration and hope.
Another goal was to understand what activities SIDA endorse in relation to research cooperations.  Dr AnnaMaria Oltorp, Head of SIDA division for research collaborations gave us food for thought, and said that she was impressed with the work Lund University is doing.

See and hear the discussions in the evening “Debate in Lund” here.

The day after, the Faculty of Medicine arranged an event with dear friends of the University. Presentations were made about global health, with special focus on research projects going on in developing countries. Important research about preeclampsia, HIV, TBC, sexual rights and global surgery was presented.

The week ended in tragedy. Our deepest thoughts go to the many victims and their families and friends of the atrocious terrorist attack in Paris! We must always fight for freedom of speech, of religion, and Universities are agents for change here. Wherever we come from, we need to see to it that we as Universities can stand up for changes in mentality, towards democratic attitudes where such attitudes are at risk.

“If you want to walk fast, walk alone; but if you want to walk far, walk together”.
The above African proverb has been quoted numerous times to demonstrate the power that comes with working with others towards achieving something greater for groups of persons, than sole individuals. To us, it emphasizes the power of relationships!  Next week I will meet with colleagues in Shanghai and in London.  We are in it together and we will find comfort realizing that we have friends around the world.

Take care,

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Our warmest thoughts go to the victims and their families in Paris!

Today we woke up with terrible news from Paris about the brutal terrorist attacks on innocent people, persons who wanted to spend a nice Friday evening. Our deepest condolences and thoughts to all those who were killed or injured and to their families and friends. Our thoughts go to the French people, to all colleagues in France at the French Universities, to our students and staff that are in France, to the French students and colleagues at Lund University.

Warmest regards,


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South Africa, a state evolving to meet the future

Just over a week ago I had the privilege to participate in a seminar at the University of Johannesburg that coincided with a meeting of U21’s manager’s group. The seminar focused on how higher education in Southern Africa needs to evolve to meet the needs and challenges the continent is facing.

The seminar gave us insight into how African Universities have shaped society, but also the reverse, how society has influenced and still influences the Universities. The African continent is facing major challenges with a population that is expected to grow from today’s 1.2 to 4.8 billion in two generations. Universities have a crucial role, both in the training of future leaders and in contributing in the effort to solve the challenges that the societies are facing with such a sharp increase in population. The South African school system was mentioned, where there are large gaps in quality, and many students do not finish their secondary education. To conclude the seminar addressed the important changes that the educational systems have to go through in order to bring new groups to begin higher studies.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) is an interesting and instructive example of how the new and modern education system in South Africa is emerging, and how to consciously work towards a positive development.

Meanwhile, discussions on tuition fees have resulted in student uprisings. You have probably followed the news with the hashtags #RhodesMustFall to #FeesMustFall to free HE. And now President Jacob Zuma has announced that tuition fees will not be increased for 2016.

South Africa is a fascinating country. At our visit it was, at least partially, draped in orange and purple. Orange since we were invited to visit the UJ’s “Orange Carpet Reception” where top students and their families were greeted by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ihron Rhensburg, at a reception at which they were given information about the opportunities to study at UJ. All Faculties with their Deans and Senior Managers were present and mingled with the students. Purple since the whole town was full of blooming purple jacarandas!

Thank you so much, University of Johannesburg, for your kind hospitality!


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Diversities in a globalized world

I have just left South Africa, heading home to Sweden. Travelling enables you to reflect on the diversities that we encounter in this “globalized” world.

Last week I attended the Science and Technology Forum in Kyoto, Japan. The meeting was an interesting mixture of people from all continents, ranging from ministers of different governments including our own Minister Helene Hellmark Knutsson, University Presidents, researchers, funding agencies, NGO:s, and so forth, discussing themes relating to science and technology in a broad sense.  Not surprisingly Climate change, smart cities, gender issues and other globally addressed issues were discussed.

The high level discussions in the sessions were followed by more informal meetings in between, perhaps the best way of making things move forward.   I talked a little bit with the some Japanese Presidents and with Japanese funding agencies about where Japan is standing. There is a strong indication from the Ministry of Research and Education (MEXT) that Japan is setting clear targets for the internationalization of academic work, especially in certain fields, both for research and education. I think the strong incentives from the Japanese Government opens up opportunities for our Swedish Universities to strengthen collaboration with the top 13 Universities indicated by MEXT as leading universities having the potential to aim for the top 100 in the world. Japan has been very good at research, but when it comes to internationalization of their education they indicate that this can improve, and the universities now seek for strategic partnerships in an unprecedented way. Lund University already has strong links with many of these.

A very positive appearance at the STS Forum were the Future Leaders 2015, from the Universities attending the Forum. For these young researchers to participate in the meetings is a good opportunity of mingling with researchers, governmental and funding bodies as well as University presidents. The initiative was sponsored by the Japanese MEXT. I spoke a bit with the Swedish Future Leaders who seemed to enjoy the meeting. Here is a picture of them!

2015 sommar och framåt 132

While in Japan Viktor Öwall, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and I took the opportunity to visit some universities in order to discuss our collaboration, namely Waseda University, Keio University, and last but not least the University of Tokyo on the very day they received a new Nobel Laureate in Physics, Prof. Takaaki Kajita, whose work on neutrinos was rewarded, together with Prof. Arthur McDonald of Queen’s University, Canada! Exciting!


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Japan I

Dear all new students. I hope that you have had a good first month in Lund. I am certain that many things seem overwhelming, but be patient; it will all fall into place. I am very happy that you all have chosen Lund University.

Personally, I look forward to an exciting month, which includes a couple of important visits starting with Japan.


I am now in Japan to meet with some of our partner universities, i.e. Keio, Kyoto, Tokyo and Waseda universities. My visit at Waseda University coincided with Waseda’s annual Study Abroad Fair where Lund University’s marketing team is present. Waseda University has over the past years sent about 15-20 study abroad students annually to Lund University.

Yesterday, on 3 October the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH, Viktor Öwall, and myself joined the Presidents’ Summit at the Swedish Embassy in Tokyo. Together with the University Chancellor, Professor Harriet Wallberg, Vice-Chancellors and Deputy Vice-Chancellors from leading universities in Sweden, we met with representatives from leading Japanese universities and research funding institutions. The purpose of the meeting was to present our internationalisation efforts and discuss possibilities for closer collaboration between our countries. Thank you so much, dear Ambassador, Mr. Magnus Robach, for hosting the meeting!

Today, 4 October the Swedish group is in Kyoto and has attended the first day of  the 12th annual Science and Technology in Society Forum where the Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research, Helene Hellmark Knutsson, met us and in plenary presented  her views on higher education in an international context.

See Swedish Government press release (in Swedish)

More to follow.



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An academic help for migrants coming to our country – we must act!

All of a sudden, Sweden and other countries in Europe and elsewhere seem to wake up and realize that families, single children, men and women coming from the MENA-region, especially Syria, are risking their lives, many have died, on their trip to a safer and better situation outside their home countries.

The three year old child Alan and his little body lying in the typical small children’s sleeping position at the shore in Turkey suddenly made everyone aware about what is going on. Nothing like small children’s deaths touches our souls. But the situation has been going on for so long time now. It is a shame that we all have waited so long to take in the situation that persons are going through, before reacting.

The situation at borders in Europe, at railway stations is chaotic.  People walk on highways, and at the same time many persons in our country help out as volunteers, quite a few from our university too!  The Swedish railway company Statens Järnvägar (SJ), lets migrants travel for free.

So what can universities do? As our core mission is research and education, we can help out for those persons who have studied in their home countries, and would like to enter the labor market as soon as possible. We can see to it that they get a shortcut to validation of their previous studies and further. Our university, like others, is a partner within the project Korta vägen a project that makes it possible for persons with an academic background to get a shortcut and together with validation, complementary studies where needed, including the Swedish language.

Other ways of helping is e.g.  the Scholars at Risk project which promotes academic freedom and defends the human rights of scholars around the world. Swedish universities like Lund University are part of this network.

Our University will discuss further actions how to help academics and students that have been forced to leave their home countries.  I hope that we can intensify our work in this field!

The best of all action is the personal action that so many of our staff and students already do by helping out as volunteers or by giving money and gifts to officially recognized  organizations or directly to persons in need. Read the Vice-Chancellor’s blog too (

We can help. We are only human beings all of us, some born in a country where you can live in peace, some less fortunate. Let us help out, as persons, as university!


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Can you describe your research in 3 minutes? Sign up for the 2015 Universitas 21 3MT Competition!

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®), developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, challenges doctoral candidates to communicate the significance of their projects to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes.

Lund University, as part of Universitas 21, is participating in the 2015 3MT® Competition! I believe this is an excellent opportunity to practice presenting in a fun environment, share your research findings with others, and have the chance to compete internationally and win a stipend!

In 2013 doctoral student Nellie Linander won Lund University’s competition and her presentation was sent to the international competition where she won the Highly Commended Award for her presentation entitled “Visually Guided Obstacle Avoidance in Flying Insects” which explained her thesis on flight control in bumble bees.

3MT winner 2013

Photographer: Gunnar Menander

 She actually also won this year’s Science Slam battle in July in Almedalen, a tight battle with researchers from Lund University and Malmö University!
Lund’s Doctoral Student Union, together with the University, warmly encourage all interested doctoral students in the second half of their studies to take part!

The Lund University 3MT takes place on Saturday 19 September (“Kulturnatten” in Lund) at 14:00 in the main university building – University House, room 206. Colleagues, family and friends, all are welcome to sit in the audience.

Presentations will be given live, with just one slide, in 3 minutes or less.

A specially formulated jury will select the winner who, in addition to the honour of winning Lund University’s competition, will receive personalised coaching on presentation skills. The presentation will then be professionally videotaped and sent on to the international competition.

More information about the 3MT is available at the 3MT website

Interested to take part or have any questions?
Contact Kristine Lund at or as soon as possible, or by 10 September.

Do you have a colleague who you think would be great at this? Encourage them to take part. I look forward to seeing you all there!


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U21 annual awards: call for nominations!

Nominations have now opened for the 2016 Gilbert Medal and U21 Awards for Internationalisation and I would very much like faculty, staff and the student body within the U21 network to nominate candidates. This is an excellent opportunity to highlight and recognise outstanding achievements within internationalisation.

The Gilbert Medal is awarded annually to recognise outstanding and significant achievement in the internationalisation of higher education by someone outside the U21 network. The inaugural Gilbert Medal was awarded to Dr Allan Goodman, CEO of the Institute for International Education, in 2012 at Lund University.  I met Dr Goodman earlier this year in Washington DC, and I understand that he is doing important work in order to advance international education worldwide, especially for disadvantaged  young people. This is a good example of a Gilbert Medal awardee!

The Gilbert Medal itself features the winning design from a competition among students at Lund University in 2012. The picture taken by Jonas Jacobson shows Lund University design students Piotr Szpryngwald and Mirko Ihrig together with Dr Allan Goodman at the award ceremony in May 2012

Goodman Gilbert medal 2012

The U21 Awards recognise contributions from within member universities to the internationalisation of higher education. The Awards recognise significant contribution either through a particularly innovative or extraordinary project that furthers internationalisation, or a sustained and prolonged contribution to building relations between U21 members to support internationalisation. The first U21 Awards were presented in 2012 to Dr Karen Gardner from the University of British Columbia, Canada and Professor Göte Hansson of Lund University, Sweden.

The next Gilbert Medal and U21 Awards will be awarded at the next Presidents’ meeting, to be held at the National University of Singapore (NUS) in May 2016.

All members of faculty, staff and the student body within the U21 network are able to put inspirational figures forward for nomination. Please note that any nominations for the Gilbert Medal need the active support of the Vice-Chancellor.
For more information and to obtain the nomination forms, please contact U21 Liaison Officer Ulrika Qvist Mathiesen ( at Lund University

Internal deadline for nominations is 7 September 2015.
For more information about the Gilbert Medal and U21 Awards, please visit the U21 website






About Universitas 21

To increase understanding, trust and partnership between international universities; enhance teaching, learning and research across physical boundaries; and strengthen collaboration between like-minded universities across the world – those are some of the core objectives of the Universitas 21 network.

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Arrival Day is here! Welcome dear students!

Today, Tuesday 18 August, more than 2000 international students from all over the world arrive at Lund. We are very happy to welcome all to Sweden’s most international University! The weather is nice, sunny but very windy.

We care very much for our students. At Copenhagen Airport the students are met by international tutors who help them out with travel to Lund and to the Academic Society at the University where practical information is given and keys to the housing distributed. Shuttle busses bring students to the housings and fellow students and staff help those students still waiting for housing.

It is so nice to see students coming with their luggage, with all kinds of expectations, trying to capture the atmosphere of the city.

I hope that all students will have an exciting and inspiring period here in Lund. The city is considered number one in Sweden when it comes to student life. The atmosphere of the Campus embraces you when you enter the Lundagård, the main campus in which you find the white main University building and the Academic Society building (AF).

Dear students, have a nice arrival at Lund University and I wish you all the best for your stay here in Sweden!


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