Once a year, the management of the Faculty of Engineering (LTH) invites members of the Swedish Parliament from Skåne to discuss and exchange ideas. Apparently, we once also had a tradition of inviting politicians from the Lund city council. Last autumn, we talked about reviving this tradition and finally we were able to sync our calendars and decide on a day to host such a meeting – Monday 23 May – to talk about LTH and what we have to offer. The meeting was also attended by the chair of the engineering students’ union (TLTH) Björn Sanders (who will soon become chair of the umbrella organisation Lund University students’ unions, LUS). These are some of the things we discussed:
A sustainable campus
I spoke a little about LTH and the things we are proud of, and pretty quickly we got into a discussion about the project Hållbart Campus (Sustainable Campus).
The politicians showed a lot of interest in the idea of making the campus a more vibrant and integral part of Lund.
Social democrat and former LTH student Anders Almgren, chair of the chief executive committee, is very familiar with the campus. Both he and others had a very positive response to the project, which is great, considering that the City of Lund is a member of the working group that we have created for this specific project.
LTH and Brunnshög
We also discussed LTH’s presence in the emerging Brunnshög area where MAX IV will soon be inaugurated and ESS is starting to take shape. To me it’s a no-brainer: LTH should be there! What and how are questions that remain to be answered. Transferring parts of LTH’s activities to Science Village Scandinavia is definitely not to be taken lightly. It requires careful consideration, for instance when it comes to teaching, but I believe this is the right path for us. For example, I believe that some of the more advanced courses could be transferred to Brunnshög, as well as some lab courses, but it’s hard to see that it would be possible to move undergraduate courses to this location. But let’s think about it and keep the discussion going.
We should not ignore the fact that the actual distance could be an obstacle – it is often easier when we meet and work closely together. However, we need to find new ways to overcome these obstacles. As I wrote in my previous blog post, we must become better at creating places where people can meet.
Those in favour of a transfer argue that Brunnshög is where development in Lund is happening; that this is where we will see a lot of the latest in science. I’m sure that many more than those who are aware of it today will benefit from the research conducted at Brunnshög, and not only those directly involved. It will include issues such as urban planning and sustainable cities, business start-ups in a new research environment, legal issues and not least what happens when a large number of researchers meet in a new environment.
I remember when I started at LTH in the 1980s, and it felt as if we were located in the outskirts of Lund. As Brunnshög continues to grow, we will increasingly feel that LTH is part of the city centre.
A foundation year programme in engineering is in the municipalities’ interest
A foundation year programme in engineering is a way to widen participation and it means a lot to students who perhaps chose the wrong track in upper secondary school. It’s great that the municipality representatives are prepared to address the issue of such a programme in their collaborative work with other neighbouring municipalities. There needs to be a discussion about who is to actually pay for this programme. Our position is that it is in fact an upper secondary school activity, and therefore the responsibility of the municipalities. Nevertheless, from a socio-economical perspective, we see this as a very positive initiative, and we’re happy to help. Therefore, this year we are expanding the programme to about 60 study places – twice the number we offered before, which feels great.
Assistant Dean of LTH, Per Warfvinge, has promoted the idea of us also using the foundation year programme for those who have arrived in Sweden as refugees, who have or have almost completed a degree. The programme could be a way for them to integrate in Swedish society and learn the language. The Lund officials seemed to like the idea.
I hope that something concrete will come out of this – wouldn’t it be nice if we could share the costs of offering a foundation year programme in engineering at LTH?
More Science and Innovation Talks?
We also talked about the Science and Innovation Talks – the pilot project in which our researchers hold breakfast seminars at Tetra Pak. They seemed interested in applying the same setup for a partnership with the City of Lund. There are many issues where exchanging experiences could be valuable.
This possibly ancient tradition has now been revived. Together we decided that it was a valuable experience and that we should continue with these meetings. If not sooner, we will welcome the City of Lund again in a year from now.
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