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Research+Education=True

What do we mean by the relationship between education and research? Is there more to this than incorporating current research into courses and offering students the opportunity to participate in research projects? Absolutely – much, much more.

The close relationship between teaching and research is at the very core of a university. One fundamental principle stated in Magna Charta Universitatum, that was signed in 1988 by 388 presidents, is that teaching and research at universities must not be separated if teaching is to be able to correspond to changed needs, social demands and scientific progress. The Higher Education Act (1992:1434) (HL) states in 1 Chap, 3§ that activities are to be pursued such that there is a close relationship between research and education.

To achieve KTH’s Vision 2027, the applicable development plan states that teachers should both teach and research. In a broad sense, everyone at KTH is actually engaged in teaching and/or research. For example, operations support is an integral part of these activities. Similarly, in a broad sense, cooperation, innovation and anything else we choose to focus on are also part of KTH’s education and research activities. As such, one could say, somewhat pointedly, that KTH only has one, tightly interwoven enterprise; research and education, two sides of the same coin.

Education and research are connected in many ways in addition to teachers being active in both contexts. In addition to the obvious way of incorporating new research findings into teaching and that a course is scientifically grounded and based on proven experience (according to HEA), students can participate in research projects. The latter already takes place to a large extent as the majority of KTH research is done within third cycle education and participation also occurs to a certain extent in second and first cycle education.

The research relationship can accordingly arise at both subject and process level; it is not only what but also how research is done that is related. One interesting observation in this context is how we and our students learn, in that we ourselves create and construct knowledge in the interaction with the world outside rather than as passive recipients of the same. This learning process varies from individual to individual and with the nature of the subject, which means that there is no preordained set and self-evident teaching process and this therefore becomes a process that must be continuously developed in courses and can be seen as a research process in its own right. I am firmly convinced that a teacher’s experience within research is an advantage here; of daring to experiment and actually not succeeding. There’s no success without failures.

The relationship also works in the other direction: the education connection to research extends from presentation technique – both written and oral; professional, systematic listening; adapting to the recipient in communication and inspiration from students and also from courses to the generating of new ideas for research and the conscious application of learning processes in research. Our teaching and research activities are truly interwoven.

Tip of the week: Attend the public discussion of a doctoral thesis where respondent Marie Magnell of the Department of Learning at ITM/KTH addresses both research and professional connections within the engineer curriculum and how this can be done in parallel: Engaged in a seamless blend: A study on how academic staff approach connections to professional practice and research in the engineering curriculum