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Why do we teach?

2016-02-05

”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


2015-06-10

We’ve just had a few weeks filled with celebrations – graduation ceremonies, the doctoral conferment ceremony, diploma presentations and a range of other events. I have also had the pleasure of opening the architects’ and...[more]


2015-05-22

I am now approaching the end of my first semester as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH. It has been an exciting and intense period. I have experienced both fun and challenging times, and I am looking forward to (hopefully!)...[more]


2015-04-15

LTH’s new management team has now been in place for 100 days, as has the new LU management team. They have been interesting, stimulating and hectic days. The best part has been visiting different sections and departments and...[more]


2015-03-31

There have been discussions in social media outlets recently regarding our Bachelor level programmes. Let me put your mind at ease – the Faculty of Engineering’s Bachelor’s programmes are maintaining a high standard, and we will...[more]


2015-03-16

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, not from lack of interest, but rather because I’ve been busy getting grips with my new role. One major difference between being a department head to being dean is that my time has...[more]


2015-02-23

I am not only the new Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH, I am also an LTH alumnus. I started my LTH journey as an ‘E:82’, but spent my first year serving the UN in Cyprus, so I ended up studying with the ‘E:83s’. After I...[more]


2015-02-10

Just over a month has gone by. It’s been a busy time with many new impressions and a fragmented existence. However, it has also been a lot of fun! Last Friday the LTH Board had its first meeting of 2015, and almost all of us are...[more]


2015-01-22

It has now been three weeks since I took on the role of dean of the Faculty of Engineering, LTH, and I suppose it is time to start my own dean’s blog, as many have encouraged me to do. I have previously managed to avoid this as...[more]


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Viktor Öwall
Dean of the Faculty of Engineering LTH

Viktor's book recommendations