07 April 2022

Understanding our own history is of vital importance when Europe is once again at war. The subject of history at Linköping University (LiU) is now to receive a substantial boost through two new professorships in modern and local history respectively.

Josefina Syssner and Jan-Ingvar Jönsson
Josefina Syssner and Jan-Ingvar Jönsson. Charlotte Perhammar

A newly started foundation for research and culture in Linköping municipality has received a seed capital of 100 million to support research within the humanities, social sciences and medicine. The foundation’s board decided, based on a direct request from the founder, on a first step of financing two professorships, one in modern history and one in local history.

Josefina SyssnerJosefina Syssner Photo credit Christian Ekstrand

“This is a fantastic opportunity for LiU – one which strengthens and vitalises the whole subject of history here. This donation gives us the opportunity to recruit leading experts who can help us develop lively and timely history research”, says Josefina Syssner, head of department at the Department of Culture and Society.

The donation has come from business leader Michael Cocozza and his wife Catharina Högbom.

Great symbolic value

“There is great symbolic value in a businessperson who has a strong engagement in the local society and who also understands the importance of the humanities and social sciences”, says Josefina Syssner.

Jan-Ingvar Jönsson, vice chancellor LiUJan-Ingvar Jönsson, vice chancellor LiU Photo credit Charlotte Perhammar

LiU’s vice-chancellor Jan-Ingvar Jönsson is delighted  by the opportunity that this donation – one of the biggest of its kind in the humanities and social sciences – gives LiU.

“Donations like this are fantastic, of course. And this is going to make a huge difference for our university in building a strong research environment in history. Because the donation has wide aims, there are big long-term opportunities to strengthen research in other areas too. The Cocozza family is once again giving us a big vote of confidence for which we are very grateful, and for which we will be good custodians”, says Jan-Ingvar Jönsson.

The two professorships will now be announced and recruited for according to the existing guidelines for the filling of new positions at Linköping University.

Our important history

The subject of history is one close to Michael Cocozza’s heart. Last autumn, he published a book, Linköping 1921 – händelser och förhållanden i en svensk stad (English: Linköping 1921 – Events and conditions in a Swedish city), which relates what has happened in Linköping over the last 100 years. The planned future research will not, however, just focus on Linköping, but also the whole Östergötland region.

Michael Cocozza, donor to LiU Photo credit GORAN BILLESON

“Modern history” concerns the period from 1860 onwards.

“To understand what is happening in the world right now, we need to understand how society has changed over time, and what these changes depend on. The view we have of history is important. For example, the twisted view of history that Vladimir Putin has is affecting us all right now. If we understand our modern times and our history, what has developed well and what has created conflict, then we can avoid making the same mistakes as our predecessors, and learn how to appreciate better the progress we have made. This is how society can develop better, for the benefits of future generations”, says Michael Cocozza.

Translated by Benjamin Davies


The Joanna Cocozza Foundation for Children's Medical Research

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