In years gone by, people talked of placing the church at the heart of the village. When I look at the plans for our new campus, I’d be more inclined to say it’s about placing KTH Royal Institute of Technology at the heart of the village – in the figurative sense: through our five campuses, that is, which all play a key role in interacting with the surrounding community and business sector.
Our campuses are integrated into the local community and are visible to its citizens. KTH’s presence is, I hope, inspiring. We’re in the midst of reality. Just as we should be. Sometimes I wish that Greater Stockholm also had a better understanding of the attractiveness of and opportunities provided by the many successful universities and institutes of higher education located in the region. Compare this with the interest shown in centres of learning in smaller towns by their surrounding communities!
Universities certainly shouldn’t be ivory towers in some kind of intellectual isolation, observing the world from above. And in the case of KTH, the university not only occupies a central position in the community in terms of its physical location; it also has a position at the heart of the community secured by our students, who, once equipped with their education, will occupy the future workplace and build the society of tomorrow. Our researchers’ results are continuously building and developing our daily lives and the world we live in. Rather like the advance of Swedish industry in local, regional and global forums and perhaps even in the digital world.
But KTH is instrumental in creating Stockholm region’s positive reputation overseas, which is apparent judging by the great influx of international students, teachers and researchers. KTH is partly responsible for Stockholm as a city becoming such an innovative academic hub. Just one beneficial aspect of our research is that it provides sufficient facts for politicians to make relevant decisions. Another exciting example of KTH’s commitment to social responsibility is its research partnership with Berättarministeriet, which works with digital storytelling and the way digital technology can be used to help develop children’s language skills: https://www.berattarministeriet.se/nyheter/kth-och-berattarministeriet-startar-forskningsprojekt-om-digital-storytelling/ (in Swedish).
The fact that KTH’s Professor Sverker Sörlin is one of the initiators of the pro-democracy campaign #ViMåstePrata is also positive, and gives us a foot in the door in terms of public debate. Even though KTH is of course unable to take credit for this initiative, it highlights an area in which all universities have a duty to safeguard and call attention to the importance of facts and of basing news reporting and other social media feeds on research. If we are to be useful, we need to put the quality of education and research at the centre, and constantly strive for improvement. And that’s what we do at KTH!