A new division, or Tema, with a focus on knowledge and democracy is something that has been discussed at the Department of Thematic studies (Tema) since the autumn of 2018. An external analysis has been made and head of department Per Gyberg has had a dialogue with the Vice-Chancellor and Deans. At the moment, the matter is being considered by the Deans at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Faculty of Educational Sciences.
– I have only received positive signals. This is an area that is in line with Temas ability to capture the major societal challenges. We see this as important for the entire Linköping University. There is very important research at the university today that we will be able to weave into this when the time comes, says Gyberg.
The idea of the new division is based, among other things, on challenges that come with the large flow of information that today reaches us via, for example, social media. It is about posing questions such as how people should be able to separate facts from pure conspiracy theories and how knowledge and democracy interact or depend on each other.
– The intersection between knowledge and democracy is becoming increasingly important to understand. Today we see how people can choose to ignore what is scientifically proven and instead listen to what someone has to say on Twitter, this risks eroding trust in the institutions we have.
The invitation to visit initially went to Linköping's municipal councilor Muharrem Demirok, who studied at Tema and has also sat on the department's board.
– Demirok is well acquainted with Tema's operations. I asked him if he wanted to discuss this idea with me and he brought several colleagues from Centerpartiet with him on his own initiative.
In addition to Demirok, Linda Modig, member of parliament, Lars Vikinge, Mayor of Linköping, Carin Ahlsen, second name on C's municipal list in Linköping and Felix Grönqvist, party Ombudsman, participated in the meeting.
The politicians received a presentation of the research project "Just transformation: The places, politics and ethics of fossil free society" by Eva Lövbrandt, associate professor. Then Dick Magnusson, senior lecturer, presented the Bachelor's programme in Urban and Regional Planning and the research project "Planners as agents for the transition towards sustainable cities". David Bastviken, professor of environmental science, showed Tema's lab and told about several of the groundbreaking discoveries made there over the years.
What did the meeting result in?
– They thought the idea was important and we will have further discussions. They also very much appreciated David, Eva and Dick's presentations, I think that that also will lead to further cooperations and discussions down the road.