Hanna Bergeå. Researcher at the Department of Urban and Rural Development
I am running for faculty board membership for the NJ faculty for the coming three-year period. I want to contribute with wider perspectives and a social science-based approach to the faculty's activities, and improve our opportunities to address issues through interdisciplinary approaches and collaboration with the surrounding society, in order for us to become even more relevant.
With my natural science education from SLU and social science postgraduate education, I am well acquainted with SLU and the faculty and have a deep understanding of the business and its breadth. I have management experience from division, department and faculty level. Allowing issues to be discussed and decided at the most adequate level is crucial for wise decisions, for the business to function well and the management to be perceived as reasonable. Here, with my clear-sightedness, I wish to contribute to using the faculty level in the best way. Decisions should normally be made close to those affected, but in cases such as recruitment to higher positions to meet certain needs in research, teaching and environmental monitoring and assessment, it is important to get an overall perspective to prevent narrow-mindedness. In addition to making powerful recruitments, I believe that the faculty should also introduce working methods that enable other, less conventional ways of tackling new, interdisciplinary issues.
The questions around our common future concern the sustainable use of the earth's resources. Here, SLU and our faculty have an enormous potential to take leadership in doing what needs to be done! We have expertise in the production areas (especially the agrarian and the aquatic fields), biodiversity and nature conservation, and also expertise in social science perspectives on eg. the use of natural resources. Issues concerning the planet's future make many people's hearts beat at SLU. In addition to competence, these issues presuppose curiosity, critical thinking, determination and openness. The work requires a balance between transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches (between as well as within social sciences and natural sciences). The good initiatives taken by employees should be encouraged, but I have also realized that it is not enough to just say that employees are free to work with urgent, complex issues. We need to create incentives and consciously look for which structures or norms are holding us back from taking the necessary steps forward when it comes to issues that require interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary action, as well as collaboration with the surrounding society. I want to explore these opportunities. When that happens, I am certain that working and studying at SLU and at our faculty will be more exciting and attractive (though not necessarily easier…). Today, there are already valuable competences, research results and relevant education programs that benefit students and society, from environmental monitoring and assessments and research, but what we do should be able to gain more attention and have an impact to a larger extent.
In my own research, I am interested in how people handle societal challenges in the environmental field within the subject area Environmental communication. Since the beginning of 2020, my division is hosting the Mistra Environmental Communication programme, which focuses how the transition to a sustainable society can happen and happens today. I lead a work package that is about how we, based on the needs of different societal actors, co-develop methods for working with sustainability issues by merging research and practice. We have about 30 different parties from public authorities and agencies, businesses and NGOs. These include the agricultural field, water management, wildlife management, urban planning and fine art. It places demands on all of us to go beyond our usual ways of thinking and working, and although there are many challenges that come with the way we work, we see how we can bring about change in society through this collaboration.
During the years 2016-2019, I was part of the faculty management as vice dean with responsibility for external collaboration. In that capacity, I worked with the senior lecturers with a special responsibility for extension, and with clarifying collaboration assignments to the departments, to make collaboration meritorious in these and other recruitments and to increase collaboration skills in general through courses and other activities. SLU as a university has a special position when it comes to collaboration thanks to our role in relation to our sectors and previous investments in special services, assignments and infrastructures in the form of field stations. Our various centers (centrumbildningar) are organized to meet the needs of the surrounding society and we could further utilize them as a resource and contact area. I want to ensure that the recruitments made to higher positions via the Faculty Board are more outspoken in their requirements that the person being recruited be able to place their work in relation to the surrounding society.
I think that the faculty's strategy for the period 2021-2025 is very good and I feel motivated by it. Above all, it is characterized by an ambition to achieve more than business as usual when it comes down to the value of our work with regards to the global societal challenges we face. I also read that we must actively work with this, which for me means that the mission is not just to produce facts, but also includes that we consciously shape our research, teaching and environmental monitoring and assessment according to how we think we can make a difference. I have personal experience of this in my own and my closest colleagues' research and teaching. In addition to what I have described above, we need to actively work with the integration of gender equality and equal opportunities perspectives as a necessary part of solutions for sustainability and in matters of just resource distribution. Of course, this should also be a natural and vital part of our own work environment.