Proper solutions call for proper research

Following one of the major highlights of the scientific community’s annual calendar in Stockholm City Hall, it is traditionally time for the Public & Science Survey. This shows that confidence in research is once again on the rise.

It is extremely pleasing to note that 75 percent of survey respondents have very high or pretty high confidence in research. The corresponding figure last year was 60 percent.

As we all know, confidence is a perishable commodity and something we need to both earn and protect on a continuous basis – especially during times of sweeping generalisations and the brushing away of facts as though they were a speck of dirt on a jacket. Which is why I am so impressed by KTH researchers who continue to assiduously assert their right to analyse, review, examine from every angle, and then re-examine theories.

This can often be a long and laborious process, that requires stubbornness, resources and focus. At the risk of appearing somewhat verbose, a great deal of research is not just about creating a better society but also about creating a possible future. AI, urban planning, work environment, medical technology, information and communication technology in the form of Sweden’s first 5G network (link) that was officially launched on the KTH Campus, are examples of areas that can help us and that hopefully, can make life easier for many people.

In the last few months, a whole host of climate change alarms have emerged one after the other, and here, universities, the enterprise sector and civil society have a wide-ranging responsibility – not just in terms of finding specific and actual technological solutions but also in showing that a possible solution is also possible. Or as Swedish diplomat and former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Jan Eliasson expressed it at our Innovative Engineers for a Sustainable World seminar, a toolbox to repair the world.

The Public & Science Survey also showed that a majority of respondents felt that far too little use was made of scientific facts in this year’s General Election campaign in Sweden, while very few, one in ten, of the young respondents said a clear yes to a future as a researcher.

Activism may stir some people, but that is not enough; without solid education and proper research, we are going to come up short when it comes to finding solutions to many of the major social challenges we are facing. That forming a new government still appears to be a long way off is very worrying in this context. Decisive politicians that are prepared to get to grips with increasing basic funding for education and research, lifelong learning and similar, that is absolutely vital for the world of academia and Swedish competitiveness.

See you again in the new year.