Promotions- och installationshögtid. Foto: Ingmarie Andersson
The inauguration and conferment ceremony in the Stockholm City Hall 2019. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson

The ceremony in the City Hall gathered around 950 invited guests, and many of the speeches raised the importance of science in order to meet various challenges in the world today.
In her opening remarks, President Astrid Söderbergh Widding highlighted Stockholm University’s new core values knowledge, enlightenment and the pursuit of truth, and said it is the university’s central mission to stand up for long-term vision, promote critical thinking and advance the scientifically based knowledge in all its complexity and nuance.
“Research takes time, you all know that now when you have completed your dissertations or have earned a professorship.”
She also emphasized that universities historically have been of central importance to the growth of modern Europe and that European university cooperation and student mobility have an important role to play when European cooperation is in a crisis today, and when university autonomy and academic freedom are threatened in a number of countries.
“We are in a turbulent time, where populism is gaining new ground, where research results – not least in the climate field – are being questioned, where rationality is often ignored in the debate and where democracy itself is ultimately under threat.”

139 new doctors were conferred 2019. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson
During the evening 139 new doctors were conferred. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson

139 new doctors participated

All of those who had defended their thesis and received a doctoral degree during the last academic year at Stockholm University were invited to the ceremony. Of these, 139 new doctors chose to be conferred during the evening. In addition, 13 jubilee doctors celebrating their 50th anniversary as doctors were conferred, and 36 new professors were installed.

Nerve cells and human interaction

This year’s inaugural lecture was given by Christian Broberger, Professor in neurochemistry, who spoke about the fellowship of brains and the fellowship of neurons. He began by quoting the American poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and his words about science in which he praised the unconditional search for new knowledge.
“It is especially relevant these days – the courage to question one’s own accepted truths when facts point in a different direction.”
With examples from the research conducted by Christian Broberger’s research group, he then talked about the importance of understanding what the brain is capable of and how it works.
“What happens in the head when we meet another person? How is the brain built to work in a world with other brains?”
Ultimately, it’s about understanding how we live together, or what human coexistence looks like – something that Whitman also had as a core theme, Christian Broberger said.
“To understand the social interaction between people, we have to understand the social interaction of the brain, and to understand the social interaction of the brain, we have to understand the social interaction of the nerve cells, and, at an even more microscopic level, the interaction between the molecules that are concentrated inside the nerve cell. How do the parts work together to solve a common challenge?”

Johan Eriksson, hedersdoktor. Foto: Ingmarie Andersson
Johan Eriksson, Defence Attorney, was one of seven honorary doctorates who were conferred during the ceremony. Photo: Ingmarie Andersson

Seven honorary doctors were conferred

During the ceremony, seven honorary doctorates were conferred, who have all contributed significantly to the university’s research and education activities. This year, the honorary doctors were: Axel van den Berg, Professor of Sociology, Elizabeth Churchill, Director of User Experiences at Google, Eva Dahlman, Photo Historian, Johan Eriksson, Defense Attorney, Kajsa Öberg Lindsten, Translator, Nora Underwood, Professor of Biology, and Frances Westley, Professor of social innovation.

Award for Good Teaching

The President also distributed the Pedagogical Prize to Christoffer Carlsson, Department of Criminology, Nicklas Selander, Department of Organic Chemistry, and Helena Bani Shoraka,
The Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism.

Three people received a gold medal

The Stockholm University Gold Medal was awarded to three people: Johan Kleman, Professor at the Department of Physical Geography, Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf, Professor of Art History at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics, and Birgitta Åkerman who has been Study Counsellor at the Department of Biology Education since 1974. Johan Kleman has, among other things, been a leader in the creation of the Bolin Center for Climate Research. Margaretha Rossholm Lagerlöf has been one of the initiators and the foremost driving force within the university in the creation of Accelerator, an exhibition space where art, science and social issues meet. Birgitta Åkerman has been strongly involved in the courses from a student perspective and, among other things, took the initiative for the much appreciated course Biologists in the community.

The ceremony was followed by a banquet in the Golden Hall. Stockholm Academic Male Chorus, Royal College of Music and the University College of Opera were responsible for the entertainment during the evening.

Watch the film from the ceremony at

President’s blog (Swedish)

President’s speech from the ceremony 2019 (91 Kb)

Read more about this year’s honorary doctors

Read more about The Awards for Good Teaching 2019 (Swedish)

Read more about the gold medalists (Swedish)