Happy Christmas from Johnny Laursen

Season’s greetings to staff and students from thedean of the Faculty of Arts.

2019.12.20 | Lisbeth Hartmann

Dear staff,
Dear students

Not long ago, I sent out a newsletter because the Government and its coalition partners had agreed next year's Finance Act. I wrote a great deal about our financial situation and predicted a certain stability for the years ahead. This is good news, not least at Christmas, with its traditions and age-old rituals. Of course, this doesn't mean that we should just bask in the Christmas spirit, nor that there's nothing new on the horizon. However, it does mean that we can concentrate on a systematic and long-term effort without externally imposed crises. It also means that we have a wider scope for setting our own agenda for what we consider to be most important.

One of the new things that we've set in motion this past year is the Committee for Diversity and Gender Equality, which was inspired by talks at the Conference on Women in Research held on 8 March. As you know, Dorte Staunæs from the DPU is the chair of the committee. Dorte, and Bjarke Paarup from CAS, are the faculty's representatives in the university’s corresponding central committee. The first meetings of the committee were very exciting, and although lively and engaging discussions have taken us far and wide, we have always kept our focus on good career paths across gender and on equal terms. We also discussed other ways of inclusion and diversity. Taking part in the discussions has been one of this year's most uplifting experiences, and I'd like to thank Dorte and everyone else involved, including Steen Weisner from Arts HR, for our truly open, unbiased and explorative discussions. Read the minutes from the meetings here.

Santa didn't climb down the chimney to deliver the new AU 2020-2024 strategy in our Christmas stocking, however, although it has been a good consultation process, and it is a good and sensible strategy, it did to a certain extent come to Arts from 'above'. The same cannot be said about the upcoming strategies for Arts and the departments that we've chosen to work on in continuation of the new AU strategy. The faculty management team has assessed that staff and students very much want to be able to contribute to strategy discussions and has therefore already opened up for the initial discussions. We'll strive to ensure a concurrent process up to the end date in June, when faculty and department strategies must be ready. We've decided that the faculty strategy should center on Arts' contribution to the AU strategy and on a few central cross-cutting initiatives. We also want to give the departments freedom to develop their strategies, however, so that the process takes place concurrently across departments allowing for dialogue on overlapping topics and mutual dependencies. The faculty management team is prepared to let go of the follow up on own strategies through targets, indicators, etc. and instead follow up on the strategies through dialogue and discussions in our relevant internal bodies. Although we won't be able to open our presents until the sun is shining and the strawberries are ripe, I'm sure it will feel a bit like Christmas; at least it will for me.

The process will start in earnest in the new year, and the newly elected academic council will also be able to contribute. However, as regards the faculty strategy, don't expect revolutionary changes. We want to continue with the initiatives that we've been working on for some time. Those of you who've read the consultation responses to the AU strategy will already have a good idea about the main principles in the university's strategy. Let me here quote the faculty management team's consultation response, in which we state that we "...attach great importance to AU's continued effort to protect the growth layer for new research ideas and support broad knowledge building as the foundation for future, original research projects and academic development, instead of focussing on winner-takes-it-all initiatives," and that we want to maintain our future-oriented commitment to broad and free basic research.

Broad sustainability efforts and a stronger climate effort are a new topic in the consultation response, and one that will undoubtedly play an important part in the strategy and in efforts to come. Our members in the working group for the university's climate strategy have made a great effort, and wherever I go, I meet staff and students who want to chip in; either by being more socially responsible in their everyday lives or through a stronger contribution to sustainability and the climate in our research and education activities. We can all be proud of this.

The new year therefore also offers exciting new tasks, even if we don't have to shovel snow. Now, more than ever, we can decide on what to give ourselves for Christmas.         

Happy Holidays

Best regards
Johnny Laursen