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Thinking about new ways of thinking

Thank you. This is something I have said many times recently, but it is worth repeating. Thank you to everyone who in different ways has contributed to the major spring adaptation to the prevailing coronavirus crisis – that, despite everything, has worked so well at KTH.

The digital reset that we implemented and the extremely relevant Covid-19 research that KTH has contributed to, show what we can achieve in a pressure situation.

But I hope we don’t stop here and nostalgically yearn to go back to how things used to be, but rather that we look forward and nurture our ability to find new solutions quickly. If we can take this with us as a lesson learned for the future, I think we will have gained a great deal even if it came at a high price. What will KTH and all its operations look like in another ten years?

That thought can also feel somewhat offensive when you consider how this past spring that has taken such a heavy toll on all our energies in different ways. Even so, I still hope we can bear it in mind, boosted by the intensive hunt for and finding of solutions during these months.

Looking ahead –to the year 2030 – I see that what we have just experienced when we were forced to think differently and act in a new way during the pandemic as seemingly being a natural part of daily life – has strengthened KTH’s expertise and that we have further climbed in our international ranking. A KTH that is international and equal and that stands for sustainable development and is a leader in digitalisation.

One important question to think about is what globalisation and sustainable development will look like in the wake of the pandemic. Creating international learning environments independently of where on earth we live is both a challenging and an exciting task. Imagine if these digital tools genuinely offer a social feeling on a par with being in a classroom, a lab group or a management meeting.

The virtual meetings we have had in recent months have been both exhausting and exhilarating for us. That these digital tools could both capture and communicate non-verbal communication is something to be desired. We have not reached that point as yet.

Another aspect of these virtual meetings is that they do not capture the social context and the physical experiences. Alongside the actual learning, students who leave their home university also experience a new culture and a new geography for example, and get to see how similar and dissimilar life is in different parts of the world. This adds yet another dimension to learning. This in particular is an exciting challenge to resolve in digitalisation’s footsteps.

In efforts to save resources by travelling less and with the development of digital tools, KTH is going to offer mixed forms of learning. By offering both digital learning when this delivers the best results and campus-based learning in laboratories and seminars where this is the best option, we are creating an optimal platform for good learning while at the same time saving resources that helps towards sustainable development.