LU could become one of the top 20 in the world, say Advisory Board
17 December 2010
“Integrate ethics and engineering! Learn to talk about cross-disciplinary education! And safeguard the humanities, social sciences and fine arts – fields at the very core of the University!”This advice came from the University’s new Advisory Board, which visited Lund at the start of November and met the University management, deans and students.
“Why settle for being one of the world’s 100 best universities, when there ought to be a chance of making it into the top 15 or 20?” asked the external advisors, Lund University’s ‘critical friends’ with international perspectives.
“Lund is impressive and you have never had such fantastic opportunities as now. Make use of them and aim for the stars”, said John Hood from the Robertson Foundation, USA.
Dr Hood, Provost Judyth Sachs from Macquarie University in Sydney and Professor Jan-Anders Månsson from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne make up the University Advisory Board. The three have been chosen for their expertise within education, research and innovation/interaction with society, and for their experience of international academic leadership.
Teaching must be given higher status and Lund University must ask itself what its degrees should stand for, said Judyth Sachs, who also chairs the evaluation panel for EQ11, the University’s education development project.
“It should be obvious to the employer what characterises students who have studied in Lund; what added value a degree from Lund has. They should know that Lund students have knowledge and skills that equip them for an international job market; and that they are enlightened citizens, committed to democracy and social justice.”
This is not something Judyth Sachs has made up, but rather values that are intrinsic to the University’s activities and strategies; however, they need to be emphasised more, as they are easily lost in today’s complex and changing university environment, according to Judyth Sachs.
Dr Sachs also observed that there are major differences between the different subjects when it comes to the view of what education and teaching should be about. This can be a weakness:
“You need to develop a common language to speak about education and teaching”, she said.
Judyth Sachs’s Advisory Board colleagues agreed. Quality assurance systems are good, but in the end it is about management, about taking responsibility as a manager and teacher – practising what we preach and passing on the University’s values to the students, said John Hood.
“Pluralism is not under threat – it is there in the meeting between the lecturer and the student”, he said.
Lund University also needs to create a better profile for itself internationally. What sort of university does Lund want to be? With its breadth of disciplines, Lund University is in a better position than specialised institutions to gather expertise on future research issues – this must be exploited.
“You have never had so much money as now. ESS is being built in Lund and the government also seems to have confidence in you. You must take the opportunities that greater freedom entails”, said Jan-Anders Månsson.
Dr Månsson would like to see more ethical perspectives in both engineering education and research.
“We need ‘green engineers’ who can take ethical values out into industry.”
The future of Lund University is about integrating disciplines and values, said John Hood. The route there is interdisciplinary projects and programmes; and not focusing blindly on technical and science subjects.
“I have a prayer: that the University will safeguard the humanities, social sciences and fine arts – key disciplines in every civilised society – and integrate them with medicine, engineering and science”, said John Hood.
- Britta Collberg
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