Why do we teach?


”A university without research is a bad university. A university without teaching is no university at all!”

This is a quote from the Rector Magnificus at Twente University in the Netherlands, during a discussion we had at their recent visit to LTH. I agree entirely with his statement. Our most important job is to educate, and our biggest contribution to society is the group of well-educated people who graduate from our programmes. But how do we really see it? Which tasks are prioritised? What do we promote?

Over the Christmas break I read Carl-Gustaf Andrén’s book about Swedish universities’ development after 1940, and he highlights this issue when he talks about our choice of words. For example, we talk about things like our teaching burden and how we try to buy ourselves out of it to free up time for research. I’m not saying I don’t think research is important. It is greatly important, not least to ensure our courses develop and that we are teaching the latest in our respective fields. It is also important because it gives rise to new results, new innovations, new companies etc. But without students there is no university!

When I became Dean just over a year ago, I thought I could probably combine the two. I have, however, had to cut down both on teaching and research time. That was not my intention, but it became unavoidable. I still have a few PhD students and I try to supervise, but I am lucky to have colleagues who are able to help out. It’s always possible to squeeze in a bit of time here and there for discussions and to read articles etc. However, being responsible for a course with a set schedule is more difficult, and in the end the students would suffer. But it’s something I miss doing. I try to give a few guest lectures, so please just ask!

I’m currently following the “Harrison debate” online from San Francisco, but I’m not going to get into all that. I just want to say that the picture that Dick Harrison paints is not one that I can identify with here at LTH. There is a lack of resources in education that can have big consequences for society as a whole in the future. But let us make the most of the situation now and try our best to affect change!

I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who is involved with our undergraduate programmes, always working to give our students the very best of everything. We are now starting up our new undergraduate programmes organization and need lots of dedicated people. If you don’t already have a role, perhaps it’s time to take one?

Viktor Öwall
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH


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Almost a year ago to the day, I asked the question “Where were you?” in my blog. That was after the talks given by last year’s Honorary Doctors, which were very interesting but sadly not as well attended as I’d hoped. It got me...[more]


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Viktor Öwall
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH

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