Published: 22-05-2024 14:23 | Updated: 23-05-2024 10:11

Annika Östman Wernerson: Collaboration fosters the values for which we stand

Rektor Annika Östman Wernerson
Rektor Annika Östman Wernerson Photo: Martin Stenmark

As Israel continues its military campaign in Gaza, students in Sweden and around the world have been staging protests on their university campuses, calling for all ties with Israeli universities to be severed. KI itself has seen smaller, peaceful demonstrations in which individual students have protested against Israel’s actions.

The impact of the war between Israel and Palestine in terms of widespread suffering and death is horrific. As president of KI, it is self-evident for me to condemn violations of international agreements on the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. However, ceasing international academic collaboration is far from self-evident, or even desirable. Collaboration fosters the values for which we stand: respect for human rights, academic freedom, institutional autonomy and critical thinking. And even though researchers, teachers and students at Israeli universities have also come out in protest against the government’s actions in Gaza, we must always scrutinise the collaborations in which we are engaged. 

If an academic institution in another country works to strengthen activities that give rise to brutality and breaches of international conventions, there is every reason to re-evaluate any ongoing collaboration with it. Likewise, as long as the demonstrations on our campuses remain peaceful, we can value and welcome the statutory freedom of expression that exists in our country. 

I firmly believe that peace and security in conflict-torn areas are better served and promoted by academic freedom and dialogue. As a university, we cannot take a stand on matters of foreign policy, nor should we. But we can do our best to show our solidarity with the people who are currently affected. One way we do this is by standing up for academic freedom and the right to express different opinions.

Make your voice heard – nominate faculty members!

Back at KI, we’re currently in the process of nominating new faculty representatives to sit on the Karolinska Institutet Board (Konsistorium), the university’s supreme decision-making body. The role is an important one that confers an influence on discussions and decisions concerning issues affecting KI, from economy and organisation to referrals and innovation. Since the faculty members represent KI’s core activities of research and education and have the power to make a difference, I urge all our staff, students and affiliates to nominate candidates for the next three-year mandate. In doing so, you help to shape KI’s future. You can read more about academic elections on the Staff Portal and can submit your nominations up until 28 May.

Openings available on the FIELD programme

KI is an attractive employer for academics at the start of their careers, and we work tirelessly to improve equality and equal career opportunities so that together we can create an even stronger KI that offers a level playing field and a positive working environment for all.

Applications are still open for Fellows In Gender Equal Career Development” (FIELD), a one-year programme designed to promote gender equality in credentials and career opportunities at KI. I urge employees or affiliates, both men and women, with two years’ experience of research or teaching at KI on at least a 20 per cent contract, to apply. 

The programme, which was initiated by the Committee for Research, gives participants a chance to forge strong networks with each other and with mentors. Based on scientific knowledge about subjects related to equality in the acquisition of credentials and career opportunities in academia, the programme makes a valuable contribution to gender equality, an issue that I embrace and cherish.

I wish all staff and students a pleasant last few weeks before the summer break, well aware that there’s a lot to get done beforehand. So don’t forget to sometimes sit back and make good use of the sunshine!


Latest updates from the President

Annika Östman Wernersonwrites regularly about issues that are important to the university under the heading "Latest updates from the President". The articles are published on KI's website and found at News and updates from the University Management. She also contributes regularly to the internal newsletter KI News. Previously published texts can be read in the news archive.