Dean's bulletin, 12 October 2020
Being an agent for change, rather than just adapting to a changing world, is of the greatest importance to a university, particularly one with a long tradition. Over the centuries since our foundation in 1666 we have adapted and sometimes actually led development. Lund University came into being to drive Skåne’s transformation from a Danish to a Swedish province.
The ability to change is a success factor. Development is what shapes the future and creates the past. The past is created when the future consumes the present. Without change there is only the ongoing. We can be happy about the future and its promise, but we can also mourn the past and what we have lost. Each generation is surprised about progress and changes within science and technology, medicine and art, but it is also progress and change that in time catches up with us and ultimately runs away from us.
Changes in working methods have been a condition for the survival of our activities during the pandemic. We have developed new ways to work, teach, socialise and just be. This development is neither good nor bad. It is just necessary. It has also shown that we are capable of magnificent changes when it is required.
Change is, and has always been, a part of our everyday life and will continue to be as long as we are a living university. Research drives development and is driven by development, but generally we are selective concerning the type of change we embrace. We are willing to incorporate new results from research in our programmes and implement incremental changes, but we rarely change anything fundamentally. We have invested too much time and effort in what we do and have created systems around today’s structures that require a lot of work to change.
This makes an organisation that by its nature is open to change very conservative. We need to change this.
We are facing a lot of changes both within our organisation and in the wider world and these changes will affect us. We will change and we must choose whether change is something we implement or something that just happens to us.
Changes entail threats, but also opportunities. We must learn to be better at seeing both sides of this in order to make wise decisions about the future. Change is like gravity. There is no point in thinking it is good or bad – it is active the whole time in any case.
Sven Lidin, dean