The inauguration and conferment ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall 2018. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson
The inauguration and conferment ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall 2018. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson


The ceremony in the City Hall gathered around a thousand invited guests, and many speakers raised the issue of academic freedom and autonomy. In her opening remarks, President Astrid Söderbergh Widding highlighted the academic independence in a time when a distrust of science is spreading.

“In a post-truth society where populism is gaining ground, the universities must stand up for the fundamental academic values with renewed force,” she said and mentioned the work with academic core values, “Living Values”, that Stockholm University participates in during 2018, a work led by the Magna Charta Observatory in Bologna.

“The core values manifest our core duties as well as our social duties as a university. In an increasingly divided society, and in a world where the liberal democratic system is under threat, the development of global, universally applicable and socially relevant knowledge is a strong unifying force and a prerequisite for the survival and development of the democratic society.”

Important with universities free from politics

In her speech, she referred to the philosopher Hannah Arendt who, in the essay Truth and Politics from 1967 writes about the role of the university in society and the importance of an institution besides the courts that can stand unaffected by political power.

“In times of fake news and alternative facts, we as a university will need to reflect even more deeply on our role in society and how it changes as society changes,” said Astrid Söderbergh Widding.

Stockholm University’s largest ceremonial occasion

The inauguration and conferment ceremony is Stockholm University’s largest ceremonial occasion and it takes place in the Stockholm City Hall the last Friday in September every year. This year there were 149 new doctors who participated. In addition, eleven jubilee doctors celebrated their 50th anniversary, and 23 new professors were installed.

The Laurel wreath – an important symbol

Anna Cullhed, professor of literature, who held this year’s inaugural lecture, highlighted the Laurel wreath – awarded to those promoted during the ceremony – and an important symbol for academic freedom and poetry.

She also quoted the Swedish 18th century author Bengt Lidner who wrote in a poem to a master’s promotion that it often takes many years for the academic cultivation to bear fruit and that those who get promoted not just should stay in the ivory tower.

“Reading Bengt Lidner’s poem is my way, here and now, of cherishing the Laurel wreath, both as a symbol of academic freedom and as a symbol of the possibilities of poetry and science”, said Anna Cullhed.

Honorary doctorates, pedagogical prizes and medals

During the ceremony nine new honorary doctorates were conferred; they have all contributed significantly to the university’s research and education activities.

The actress Stina Ekblad was one of nine new honorary doctors. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson
The actress Stina Ekblad was one of nine new honorary doctors who were promoted during the ceremony. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson

Two of them are Stina Ekblad, actress, and Lena ten Hoopen, author and journalist. The Pedagogical Prize was given to Robert Daniels, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Nils Larsson, Department of Language Education, Iñaki Rodriguez Longarela, Stockholm Business School, and Emma Wikberg, Department of Physics.

The Stockholm University Gold Medal was awarded to three people: the late Ishak Alaton, Ishak Bey, Agneta Bladh and Göran Scharmer. Ishak Alaton, Ishak Bey, played a crucial role in the formation of the Institute for Turkey Studies at Stockholm University five years ago. Agneta Bladh has had a long range of assignments in the world of education and is today chairman of the Swedish Research Council and the government’s special investigator of internationalization. Göran Scharmer is employed by the Royal Academy of Sciences and has served as chairman of the Institute for Solar Physics since 1990.

The ceremony was followed by a banquet in the Golden Hall where the governor Sven-Erik Österberg stated in his speech the importance of the ceremony as not only an opportunity to promote Stockholm University but also Stockholm as a university city.

 

Watch the film from the ceremony at su.se/play.

President’s Blog

Read more about this year’s honorary doctors.

Read more about the Pedagogical Prizes (Swedish).