American Unreason

2011-12-15

The anti-science rhetoric by the political establishment in the US is worrying.

As I write this article the Chairman of the Nobel Foundation, Dr. Magnus Storch, has just finished his introduction speech for the 2011 Nobel Ceremony in Stockholm. In his speech Storch stressed the importance of the values Alfred Nobel manifested in his will more than a Century ago: The importance of science for improving the human condition combined with inspiration from the humanities and the struggle for world peace. In the face of the grand challenges of today, including the current sovereign debt crisis, Storch stressed that we really need the contributions of science more than ever. Not surprisingly his message went down really well among the enthusiastic audience of Believers in Reason, for the occasion in full evening dress.

As I watched the handful of proud scientists-Laureates – survivors of decades of harsh academic scrutiny – I was reminded of a 2005 article in the New Your Times about a geologist digging into the Grand Canyon to prove the “Young Earth” theory: “Geologists date this sandstone to 550 million years ago and explain the folding as a result of pressure from shifting faults underneath. But to Mr. Vail, the folds suggest the Grand Canyon was carved 4,500 years ago by the great global flood described in Genesis as God’s punishment for humanity’s sin.”

Already at that time NYT reported that almost 1/2 of Americans think God created human beings “pretty much in their present form” within the last 10,000 years. More disturbing is that the same study found that 5% of scientists adopted the “Young Earth” view. As far as I know, these numbers have not diminished. Religious discourse in places of worship and at the departments of theology is one thing but replacing reason with religion is another.

I am not alone in having these concerns. As a longtime subscriber of Scientific American I have noted a growing sense of alarm among its editors and columnists about the recent anti-science tone and rhetoric of the US political establishment.  Authors in similar eminent scientific journals also debate what they perceived to be a clear and present danger of growing American Unreason. This is a worrying tendency not only for America but for the entire world.

The Enlightened US

The American researchers who have received the ultimate Nobel prize from the hand of the Swedish King is a tribute to their nation’s founding ideas of Enlightenment, the great European cultural and intellectual movement of the 18th Century that sought to advance knowledge and improve society.

France was the center of the early Enlightenment movement with hundreds of scholars like Diderot, Voltaire and Rosseau all challenging the unreason of their time. For example, the very idea that Diderot’s pioneering Encyclopédie (1751-1772) claimed to contain all knowledge of the time and that the 35 volumes sold more than an astonishing 25,000 copies of which half outside of France created fertile grounds for the pursuit of more science and reason.

The Enlightenment ideas clearly inspired Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers of America to build their new and free society on reason instead of the unreason of religious dogma and hereditary succession of monarchs-tyrants (see Thomas Paines’ famous pamphlet Common Sense from 1776).  The American Constitution and the French Déclaration des droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen manifests the political philosophy of the ideals of the Enlightenment. In contrast to Mr. Vail’s crusade in The Grand Canyon those ideas of reason also encouraged a new wave of more or less religious-free scientific discoveries and developments across the disciplines.

In modern times the great American nation has been the natural leader of enlightened research, education and innovation as demonstrated by the 2011 Nobel Prize winners and it still is. The US has welcomed and developed the best minds in the world, invested heavily in research and education, generated unparalleled ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Even today the US remain the world’s powerhouse of research, education and innovation in terms of ranking of universities, number of Nobel Prizes, attractiveness to students from across the planet, patent generated, entrepreneurship and the like.

Have the lights gone out?

When the NYT journalist mentioned to “creation-geologist” Mr. Vail that 80% of Christians walk away from their faith when studying science he throws a stick into the sand in frustration and exclaims that “we’re raising a generation of confused children, and it’s the public schools that are doing it!” As a reminder: this was in 2005, not in 1776. And it seems that a large portion of the US population today think he has a point.

It is precisely in view of its grand history that it is so sad to observe the decline of the values, assumptions and rhetoric of the Enlightenment among American decision makers. Many prominent Republicans, for instance, are well-known to seed suspicion about the research showing human causes of global warming and in other ways let ideology or religion trump scientific evidence.

Poisonous claims about matters of science by ignorant politicians surface all the time and everywhere and no political party has a monopoly on such unscientific thinking and dogma. For instance, when presidential candidate Michele Bachman (the Tea Party person) claimed that the HPV vaccine was a “very dangerous drug” that could lead to mental retardation, even some of her arch-conservative Republican peers criticized her. But what is worrying is that in their quest to win votes among the growing mass of science deniers, prominent American politicians place anecdotes over scientific evidence and sometimes even portray scientists as the perpetrators misinformation, like in the case of global warming.

Unfortunately, American politicians frequently use religion as a warrant to justify more unreason. Constrast Nobel Chairman Storch’s message about the need for science with the latest video ad by US presidential candidate Rick Perry’s (R), Strong, uploaded to YouTube only a week earlier. Perry’s main message is that President Obama is waging a “war on religion” and that “faith makes us stronger”. This 30 seconds video illustrates the growing religious dogma among the conservative American political class, which unfortunately is coupled with unscientific thinking, tone and action. But there is hope: of 4.7 million hits on Perry’s YouTube video (10 December) 33 times more people dislike than like it. I am not sure, however, if that high ratio of dislike reflects the science-denying portion of the US population.

By any measure, Parry’s statement – a possible next leader of the world’s only superpower – seems far from the Enlightenment ideal of his nation’s Founding Fathers. Free exercise of religion is one thing, but as Thomas Jefferson pointed out more than two Centuries ago, government must be neutral among religions and non-religion, which is also the spirit of the first amendment of the US constitution.

Perry is not alone to bring faith to the forefront of political debate in the US and probably he will probably not be the last in an increasingly religious America, in an increasingly religious world. Just recall how George W. Bush said that he received “prompts” from God about what to do and that he claimed he was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Also recall that he pushed through legislation to make it more difficult to pursue stem cell research.

Faith-based Universities?

A few years ago I attended a Harvard program for new university presidents and found myself as one of the token foreigners. I was awe-struck by the apparent role of “faith-based” institutions of higher education in America. The Islamic madrasah is a well-known faith-based school system by which students mostly learn how to memorize the Qur’an. But to have faith as the foundation for education in general, but especially in higher education, was more than I expected.  This even in view of the strong religious heritage from the 102 pilgrim-immigrants on the Mayflower in 1620, who undertook the voyage to escape religious persecution in England.

It was soon apparent that I had very little in common with the challenges facing the Deans of those institutions and they received different “prompts” than I and from very different sources. Although faith-based higher education might be innocent enough in the beginning, what stops it from extending into, let’s say, faith-based research (like that of Mr. Vail), faith-based academic titles and journals, faith-based evaluation of faculty and research outcomes or faith-based innovation? If policies and practices of science and education are based on faith more than the ideal of the Enlightenment of the US, the pluralistic world has a good reason to be concerned.

Oxford professor in evolutionary biology and renowned science author Richard Dawkins has often confronted the influence of religion on society and debated why science is fundamentally different from religion. In short, his argument is that “…science is based upon verifiable evidence. Religious faith not only lacks evidence, its independence from evidence is its pride and joy, shouted from the rooftops.” Controversional columnist, literary critic, author and “anti-theist,” the late Christopher Hitchens was harsher in his critique of the influence of religion on society, summed up as “religion poisons everything.”

It is tempting to dismiss Vail’s, Parry’s and Bachman’s statements as shouting “blind faith” from the “rooftop” to science-denying believers and assuming that, if they come to power, nothing would really change. But that would be a disservice to science. Science and religion will typically have different answers to epistemological and ontological questions (What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know? What categories of being exist?) Science and religion will, to paraphrase President W. Bush, also give us different “prompts” about what to do, which may result in real decisions that impact real people.

Perhaps it is my pluralistic Scandinavian roots that makes me prefer the peaceful coexistence of science with different interests, convictions and lifestyles over what Perry, Bachman et al. are metaphorically shouting from their rooftops. As a scholar and leader in academia I am uncomfortable with mixing legitimate activities of no-matter-what religion with science, education (theology exempted) and innovation. Perhaps it is my training in scientific methods and scholarly dialogue that make me weary when Non-Reason is spread within the very institutions that are tasked with the advancement of Reason and Enlightenment. Like Professor Dawkins, and unlike Faith-Based Geologist Vail, I see very little connection between religion and research in today’s enlightened societies.

Have Faith in Reason

Many Americans may be listening to the anti-science and religious unreason spread by Parry, Bachman and others. However, the US remains a wonderfully cosmopolitan melting pot of brain power and resources that are needed in the pursuit of science, education and innovation. I am convinced this will remain so for decades.  In contrast with the nationalism and chauvinism that is weakening other nations, and despite the increasing anti-science tone of presidential candidates, the US remains a beacon of reason in the world, for now.

In his notorious video, Parry said that “faith made America strong” and that he assures that it will make her strong again. I question his premise. Science, technology and the ideal of Liberal Arts made America strong and that cocktail of reason can make her even stronger. To deflect the shouts of unreason from the rooftops, scientists and leaders of science need to cultivate allies across the political and religious spectrum and help keep the public debate informed and factual, especially in America.

A century ago, Alfred Nobel stressed the importance of science, the humanities and peace for improving the human condition. His endowment has enabled the ultimate price in physics, chemistry, medicine/physiology, literature and for efforts to make the world a more peaceful place. A century later, Science and Reason continue to beat Blind Faith and Unreason as the most innovative, effective and responsible way to improve the human condition. Let’s hold the course.


Want to change a paradigm? Good luck

2011-11-16

It is very difficult to challenge a world-view.

Why do people with opposing views often seem to be living on different planets? Because we do, metaphorically speaking.

We use different concepts and methods to address different problems whereby we consciously and unconsciously limit communication across what divides us from others. Mindsets, mental models, knowledge structures, dominant logic, or my favorite German term, Weltanschauung, all capture the idea that experiences, beliefs and values affect the way we perceive reality and how we respond to that perception.

The divide between opposing and seemingly incompatible views and how we deal describes why it is so difficult to change an established way of thinking and working, from the inside. It also suggests that we should welcome conflicts with opposing and seemingly incompatible views, but also why we hate it.

“Incommensurability”

In the middle of the last Century Thomas Kuhn suggested and refined a simple yet powerful idea to both describe and explain why and how this divide happens.  In short, his provocative idea was that proponents of different fundamental ideas simply work in different worlds. Alan believes the earth is flat and he finds it hard to have a meaningful dialogue with Jan, who is convinced that the earth is round.  Two such different worldviews, or habits of reasoning is what Kuhn called ”paradigms” and they can’t be reconciled with each other because they cannot be subjected to the same common standard of comparison.

When it come to conflicting world-views or beliefs there is no neutral language to describe and interpret what is happening. Just imagine Joe waving a religious text as the main ground for his passionate claim and Mary holding up a printout of empirical data while they both claim to know the “truth.”  Just imagine that Joe and Mary are believers of neoclassical economics versus behavioral economics, the virtue or vice about entering a new market, or…

Kuhn called this impossibility to reconcile views “incommensurability” and he developed the idea when he studies the nature of scientific development, especially scientific revolutions that made mankind take giant leaps forward, so-called, paradigm shift.

Revolutionary science like Albert Einstein’s famous challenge to Newtonian mechanics, he found, is usually unsuccessful, and very rarely leads to new paradigms. Einstein challenged a way of thinking that had been used to describe force and motion for over two hundred years. Not surprisingly, protagonists of the current paradigm were not amused and reacted accordingly. However, when these large-scale shifts in the scientific view are implemented and accepted by the majority science will once more progress within the new paradigm, and the process repeat itself.

In other words, major changes in how we view the world often happens more as sudden earthquakes than incremental steps. But, it is very human to dislike earthquakes.

The barriers to change in science

Just like in industry in science there are many mechanisms to reinforce existing paradigms, and reject attempts competing ones. Well known methods include:

  • Professional organizations that give legitimacy to the paradigm and provide standards for evaluating quality
  • Strong leaders who defend and represent the paradigm
  • Conferences conducted that are devoted to discussing and promoting ideas central to the paradigm.
  • Educators who propagate the paradigm’s ideas by teaching it to students in a cycle of self-reference.
  • Journals giving legitimacy to the paradigm and that reject papers threatening it.
  • The self-referential practice to cite one-self and ones like minded peers in publications, helping increasing the legitimacy of central ideas of the paradigm
  • Funding agencies that provide money only to those who have made their career in one paradigm.
  • Promotion practices of only giving tenured professorship to people who have proven themselves in the paradigm.

Just imagine the how challenging it must be for the lonely scholar who has figured out a revolutionary idea.

The difficult inside job

Kuhn’s simple idea also partly explains why it is so difficult to change a paradigm from the inside. When you are inside a way of thinking and working in science or in a company you do not notice it. You just keep speaking the language of that way of thinking, meeting like-minded people and consciously or unconsciously you defend the turf.

Just like a ruler urges his subordinated to defend the motherland from real intruders it comes naturally for most people to defend their way of thinking from intruding worldviews.  Religious faith and political ideology are perhaps the most illustrative examples but scientific knowledge development and best practices in organizations qualify too if you think of how things works. If you have a different worldview you become a non-believer, a heretic whose strange views will be eliminated, sooner or later, unless you can recruit and convince others about the value of your dissenting views.

The way we organize and manage organizations is designed to reinforcing a shared way of thinking and doing – a unified paradigm. In fact, creating a shared vision, or “aligning” and organization is regarded as an essential aspect of organized life. Many leaders work hard to get people in the organization to pull in the same direction, to basically have the same mindset and dominant logic.

The corporate world is full of examples of how project champions of rejected ideas kept pursuing these undercover and eventually won the battle of worldviews.  Nestlé’s Nepresso division is perhaps one of the most well-known examples.

A living  example of the hardship of challenging a paradigm in science is Dan Shechtman, the winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. When he shared his preliminary findings 1982 even the leader of his research group disowned him and with great shame. Three decades later people queue to get his autograph and scholarly support.


More life-science, in Lund

2011-10-25

In the early part of 2011 I was struck by the difference between the debate and focus in Denmark and in southern Sweden, just across the bridge. Perhaps it had to do with the uncertainty regarding the upcoming Danish election? Perhaps there is a real difference in mentality? At that stage many Danes I met were increasingly annoyed that the Swedish economy was doing much better, and as a Swede holding a leading position in Denmark, I was walking a thin line. However, I could not resist making a point about the difference in debate and highlight the positive development in the science-city of Lund, which was hardly mentioned in Denmark. In previous articles I have mentioned and discussed the mega investments in the ESS science facility in Lund. In this column I discuss the privately enabled Ideon Life Science Village, which is currently being established there. My purpose was to inspire and increase the interest on the Danish side to make more connections with Lund. It hasn’t really happened yet.

Onsdag 02/02/2011. Berlingske Nyhedsmagasin.

Another 1.000 life science-jobs… in Lund

In Sweden a private individual has just donated 100 million Swedish Crowns, to create progress in a science-park in Lund. In Denmark we are leading a passionate debate, discussing whether publicly funded early retirement benefits* should be abolished quickly or slowly.

In Denmark, we are proud of our strong position in the field of life science; which is why it is interesting that the University of Lund, Astra Zeneca and the billionaire Mats Paulson (founder of the construction company Peab) are now founding Ideon Life Science Village. The city will create one thousand new jobs, a power centre for research in life science, and a dynamic environment for entrepreneurship. The intention is clear: Lund wants to attract top researchers from around the globe, expanding companies based in medicine and related sciences, plus people with an interest in creating new companies.

The future is in Lund. The venture is especially interesting since Lund is already in the process of building ESS – the world’s largest neutron microscope – and MaxLab IV, which during the course of a few years will become one of the few power centers in the world within the field of advanced particle physics and materials research and development.

This will contribute about another one thousand resident researchers, plus another three to four thousand who will fly in and out on short or long visits. In this picture, other groups belong as well: aspiring researchers (Ph.D.’s), masters, and bachelor students.

By the way, thousands of researchers have families as well, which calls for good kindergartens, international schools and secondary schools, stores and hospitals. The families need a place to live, they go shopping, they go to the opera and the theatre (perhaps preferably in Tivoli), and they want to watch handball.

We should congratulate Lund, because these projects benefit the entire Copenhagen Metropolitan Region (CMR).The initiative attracts everything a community needs.

But let us look at things in a slightly less rosy perspective.

Differences across the sound: On one side of the sound, nearly all the municipalities have included the options that ESS give in their strategic plans. On the other side of the sound, only a few people know what the abbreviation means.

On one side of the sound, politicians – on a national level and across political boundaries – are ready to make decisions on new infrastructure projects, which bring us even closer together. On the other side, the interest seems to be more lukewarm.

The list could go on, and, with all due respect for national differences, this pattern is not working. There are far more similarities than differences between Sweden and Denmark, and my impression is that we, on the Danish side, do not see the opportunities in what, in my opinion, should be called the Copenhagen Metropolitan Region.

Isn’t it about time we place Scania (Skåne) high on the national agenda for strategic co-operation?

My hope is that the government and the opposition will unite in a “regional effort” to grab hold of the possibilities and challenges of the future, instead of passively letting the development pass us by.

Private donations: On one side of the sound a wealthy private individual has just donated 100 million Swedish Crowns to enable further progress for the existing idea-park for research and entrepreneurship. On the other side of the sound, we are leading a passionate debate, discussing whether the publicly funded early retirement benefits* should be abolished quickly or slowly.

I am also convinced that private individuals want to make more donations. As Mats Paulson commented on TV that same night, the deal was clear: “You can’t take the money with you, when you go…”. The legacy, which he is now creating, will last for generations.

—–

* Early retirement benefits – The Danish term “efterløn” refers to publicly funded pension benefits payable five years before normal retirement.


Copenhagen Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (CIEL)

2011-10-25

In my ongoing push to help improve the conditions for innovation in Denmark I worked hard with my peers at the Danish Technical University and Copenhagen University to create a joint venture that would pool into one unit our resources and activities about entrepreneurship. This became the Copenhagen Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab (CIEL). I was delighted to note that it was inaugurated as planned 12 September 2011 and I am convinced it will be of great benefits to all parties, foremost the students . In this column I outlined the rational for this important venture.

BERLINGSKE NYHEDSMAGASIN 19. NOVEMBER – 25. NOVEMBER 2010

Dr. Johan Roos

Universiteter skaber nyt væksthus

Finland er gået i front for at skabe et nyt, tværvidenskabeligt universitet på internationalt niveau med offentlig og privat støtte. I Danmark prøver tre universiteter at gøre kunsten efter – i lidt langsommere tempo.

Alle europæiske lande kæmper om at nå samme mål: At få bare ét universitet i verdensklasse. Lad os sammenligne Finland og Dan- mark. Finland investerer nu 4 pro- cent af bruttonationalproduktet i forskning og udvikling. Danmark knap 2 procent. I Finland har man for nylig skabt et nyt tværfagligt superuniversitet, Aalto University, der er flagskibet i en stor universitetsreform. Tre univer- siteter i hovedstaden Helsinki – Handelshøjskolen, Det Kunstindustrielle Universitet (Designskolen) og Det Tek- niske Universitet – lægges sammen og har fået en fælles identitet, strategi, administration og forskermiljø. Aalto University styres som et privat universitet med egen fond.

Det finansielle mål for fonden er at sikre universitetet en samlet sum på 5 mia. kr. ved udgangen af 2010, hvoraf 1,5 mia. er private bidrag og 3,5 mia. fra staten i såkaldte matchmidler. Inden fusionen lød det samlede budget for de tre universiteter på ca. det halve – 2,5 mia.

kr. Alt tyder på, at universitetet når det ambitiøse mål ved udgangen af i år; alene i 2009 gav finsk erhvervsliv 750 – 800 mio. kr. i private donationer.

Ideen er at kombinere for- skellige videnska- ber på nye måder for at skabe nye, erhvervsrettede og innovative uddannelser og forskningsresultater i tæt samarbejde med erhvervslivet. I praksis viser det sig altid vanskeligere at realisere potentialerne, end man først tror. Men ambitionen om at få kreative forskere fra forskellige videnskabelige fel- ter til at arbejde tættere sammen fortjener opbakning.

Den finske regering har da også valgt at give sin ful- de økonomiske støtte og erhvervslivet ligeså. Bliver Aalto University en succes, vil Finland have skabt et lokomotiv inden for forskning, undervisning og innovation, der er internationalt konkurrencedygtigt.

Dansk initiativ: Hvad gør vi i Danmark? Sammen med Danmarks Tekniske Universitet (DTU) og Københavns Universitet (KU) er vi for første gang gået sammen om at etablere et fælles projekt, der skal være et vigtigt fyr- tårn for entreprenøraktiviteter i Danmark.

Erhvervs- og Byggestyrelsen under Økonomi- og Er- hvervsministeriet ønskede, at projektet “Det Entreprenørielle Universitet’”(DEU) skulle havne hos ét af Dan- marks universiteter, men for at udforske potentialerne på tværs af universiteterne har vi i fællesskab med pro- rektor Anders Bjarklev (DTU) og Thomas Bjørnholm (KU) valgt at søge i fællesskab.

Selv om dette initiativ ikke på nogen måde svarer til en egentlig fusion af tre universiteter, mener jeg, at DEU-initiativet kan blive et første skridt på vejen til et langt stærkere samarbejde mellem os om en central platform i centrum af København. Ikke mindst hvis er- hvervslivet og de politiske aktører også bakker op.

De tre universiteter har til sammen halvdelen af al- le studerende i Danmark. Vi kan kombinere nogle af de stærkeste og mest innovative forskningsområder i verden, f.eks. inden for sundhedsvidenskab, biotek, en- treprenørskab, marketing, innovation samt de tekni- ske løsninger der skal til. Dette potentiale kan og skal udnyttes bedre.

Så vi er på vej – men der er godt nok langt op til det finske tempo.


Innovation, not only research

2011-10-25

A grand illusion of politicians (and university people) is that more millions in research funding automatically results in national wealth creation. As I continued to observe the ill-informed debate about this in Denmark last year I wrote yet another column to showcase Finland and its innovation policy and system to show that a systemic vie is essential. The result was that the permanent chief civil servant in the ministry of business paid me a visit to discuss the matter and it turned out we agreed on a lot of matters.

BERLINGSKE NYHEDSMAGASIN 8. oKtoBER – 14. oKtoBER 2010

Dr. Johan Roos

Innovation skaber job, som skaber velstand

Det er ikke nok bare at poste flere milliarder i forskning. Der skal bygges bro mellem forskning og erhvervsliv og skabes forståelse i befolkningen for sammenhængen mellem innovation og fremtid.

Folketingets partier skal fordele nye forsk- ningsmidler fra globaliseringspuljen for ca. 1.400 mio. kr. i 2011 og en portion af de 1.600 mio. kr., som er afsat i 2012. Re- geringen har for nylig lagt vægt på, at der sikres en stærkere sammenhæng mellem fordelingen af forskningsmidler og den økonomiske vækst. Spørgsmålet er derfor: Hvordan får vi mest muligt for pengene til glæde for innovation og vækst i Danmark i de kommende år?

I mine øjne nytter det ikke blot at poste endnu flere milliarder ind i forskningen. Det gælder om at bygge en stærkere bro fra erhvervslivet til forskningen. I Dan- mark sætter vi ofte lighedstegn mellem innovation og resultater fra den naturvidenskabelige forskning. Men det er en for snæver og elitepræget forståelse af inno- vation, som betyder, at store dele af dansk erhvervsliv holdes uden for den løbende innovationspolitik.

Forskningsresultater kan kun blive til innovation og vækst ved en vekselvirkning med kommercielle aktører – og det forudsætter, at de kommercielle aktører også har blik for de mange muligheder.

Med Globaliseringsstrategien er der investeret ganske store milliardbeløb i netop den tekniske, natur- og sundhedsvidenskabelige forskning. Resultaterne på forskningssiden udebliver da heller ikke. Forskningsstrategien ser ud til at virke. Men betyder dette øget innovation og vækst i erhvervslivet og i samfundet? Ikke nødvendigvis.

Udfordringen er at få de mange gode ideer og paten- ter ud fra universiteterne, så de kan være med til at ska- be vækst og arbejdspladser i de private virksomheder.

Eksemplet finland: I Finland arbejder regeringen meget hårdt på netop at skabe den brede folkelige forståelse for nødvendigheden af et stærkt og blomstrende erhvervs- liv, der er afgørende for landets og velfærdens fremtid. Logikken er enkel: Innovation = privat virksomhed = gevinst = arbejde = skat = velfærd = velstand.

Med udgangspunkt i at skatteyderne forstår, hvorfor innovation er vigtigt, handler det for finnerne om at skabe forudsætningerne for kontinuerlig dialog mellem myndigheder og virksomheder om landets erhvervs- og innovationspolitik.

Til dette formål har de blandt andet etableret VTT – Finlands tekniske forskningscenter – med næsten 3.000 ansatte, hvoraf ca. 600 har en ph.d-grad og 270 mio. euro (cirka 2 mia. kr.) i omsætning.

Lige nu fokuserer VTT på en håndfuld knowledge clu- sters –forskningsområder, hvor de forventer store forsk- nings- og erhvervsmæssige vækstpotentialer.

Hvor er den danske pendant? Hvor er den fælles in- novationsstrategi for Copenhagen Metropolitian Re- gion som ud over Danmark inkluderer sydlige Sverige og nordlige Tyskland? Hvor er den danske befolknings forståelse for, hvad der skaber vækst og velfærd? Jeg undrer mig bare.

Der er en forskel mellem at pick the winner og at fo- kusere sine investeringer i fremtiden, især i et lille land som vores. Det første kan diskuteres. Det andet er bare sund fornuft. I begyndelse af november byder vi på CBS en delegation fra VTT velkommen for at høre, hvordan vi kan bygge bro mellem forskning, innovation og kommercialisering.


Business-in-Society Platforms

2011-10-25

9 September 2010 I hosted the Prime Minister’ Growth Forum at Copenhagen Business School. As the host I was invited to join the two-day conversations, but I was also given the opportunity to privately present the school’s new strategy to the PM, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Science. The PM’s comments what that he rarely had seen such an offensive and exciting strategy, especially in view of all the negativism in Denmark at the time.

In this column I briefly outline one important facet of that strategy, namely the three Business-in-Society platforms that combines research and education to address pressing societal challenges and opportunities relevant to our region.The BiS Platform idea was proposed by many CBS people during the previous strategy process and, in my view, a really great concept for a modern university eager to connect with the world. Specifically, the three platforms were focused on Enterprise Design, Sustainability and Private-Public Partnership – all three topics relevant to the Danish/Scandinavian identity, image and real challenges.  After I resigned as president the concept BiS Platform lives on, but it has been greatly reduce in magnitude and the Design platform has been canceled.

BERLINGSKE NYHEDSMAGASIN 15. OKTOBER – 21. OKTOBER 2010

Dr. Johan Roos

3 platforme til design af Danmarks fremtid

Teori skal være præget af praksis og praksis præget af teori. Derfor præsenterer CBS tre nye forskningsplatforme, der på tværs af fag og i samarbejde med erhvervslivet skal medvirke til en vision for Danmark.

Da regeringens Vækstforum forleden besøgte CBS, blev jeg af mi- nistre og erhvervsledere spurgt, hvordan CBS konkret bidrager til at løse nogle af samfundets og er- hvervslivets vigtigste problemer. Heldigvis kunne jeg forsikre dem om, at vi faktisk bidrager en hel del – både ved at ud danne unge og via vores forskning.

Et godt eksempel er en ny publikation fra nogle af CBS’ bedste forskere, “Væksthuset”, der netop skitserer en række konkrete anbefalinger til, hvordan politikere, erhvervsledere og embedsmænd kan skabe mere vækst og innovation i Danmark. Men der skal mere til.

Nye forskningsplatforme: Jeg har tidligere argumente- ret for, at en moderne og ambitiøs handelshøjskole skal være dygtig til både forskning og undervisning. Teori skal være præget af praksis og praksis præget af teori. Vi skal kunne levere forskningsbaseret undervisning og undervisningsbaseret forskning. Og vi skal blive bedre til at forstå, analysere og påvirke samfundsdebatten og løse virksomhedernes udfordringer.

En vigtig del af CBS’ strategi er derfor at sætte tre nye forskningsplatforme i søen – nemlig designtænkning, bæredygtighed og offentlig-private partnerskaber.

De tre temaer har det til fælles, at de ikke alene har betydning for Copenhagen Metropolitan Region; de har også global relevans. Samtidig er det ambitionen, at de tre platforme skal nedbryde barriererne mellem forsk- ningsdiscipliner ved at gå på tværs af mange områder. Temaerne har derfor relevans for stort set alle på CBS, og alle har mulighed for at bidrage – også blandt vore eksterne samarbejdspartnere. Dette er en invitation – Join Us, som det hedder i vores Guiding Principles.

Designtænkning: Som den første introducerer vi platfor- men Creative Enterprise Design (CED) der skal bidrage til, at Danmark designes bedre. Dette arbejde skal i høj grad foregå i samarbejde med erhvervslivet og offentlige institutioner. CED skal bidrage til, at vi designer os til et bedre og mere effektivt samfund. Design skal her for- stås bredt, som design af organisationer, institutioner, produkter og processer. Designtænkning er en vigtig motor for værdiskabelse og gør virksomhederne mere konkurrencedygtige. CED skal netop organisere et sam- arbejde mellem forskere fra forskellige discipliner – på tværs af institutter og universiteter, og i samarbejde med virksomheder og offentlige institutioner.

Personligt ser jeg frem til at udarbejde en vision for Danmark som designnation i 2020 sammen med en række andre forskere og erhvervsledere i Økonomi- og Erhvervsministeriets nye Visionsudvalg for Design. Ud- valget skal ikke alene undersøge, hvordan design kan være med til at løse nogle af de centrale udfordringer i fremtiden, men også forholde sig til design som innova- tionsmotor, udvikling af designkompetencer, forskning i design samt markedsføring.

Ved at udfordre os selv og betragte det velkendte fra nye vinkler, tror vi på, at der opstår nye spændende synergier. Det er i høj grad den øvelse, der bredt set er brug for, hvis der skal skabes ny vækst i samfundet. Det arbejde bidrager CBS gerne med, og vi glæder os tilsamarbejdet.


Fewer teachers should mean fewer students

2011-10-25

When I arrived at CBS I quickly uncovered the business model of a university, which was totally dependent on modest amounts of state funding. In short, the idea was to (1)  increase the number of programs to attract a broader range of students, (2) increase the number of students/class (room), (3) reduce the number of faculty hours (teaching and support)/student, and (4) reduce the number of full-time faculty/class while increasing the number of part-time/guest lecturers. This is a powerful recipe for reducing the costs of higher education. It is also a recipe for reduced quality and for creating long-term problems for the society that supports it.

In this column I reflect over the necessity to increase the funding for a university, which has succeeded in attracting far more students than it can accept.

BERLINGSKE NYHEDSMAGASIN 20. AUGUST – 26. AUGUST 2010

Dr. Johan Roos

Færre forskere betyder færre studerende

Også i år hører vi triste historier om de mange unge, som afvises fra deres drømmestudium. Copenhagen Business School (CBS) vil gerne uddanne flere. Vi kan bare ikke, fordi vores forskerbevillinger er så lave.

Hvis politikerne vil have flere dyg- tige kandidater til de danske virk- somheder, som skal skabe vækst i Danmark i de kommende år, er de nødt til at opprioritere forsknings- midlerne til det erhvervsøkonomi- ske område.

CBS er mange unges foretrukne uddannelsessted, og der venter kandidaterne gode job bagefter. Senest har Danmarks Erhvervsforsknings Akademi (DEA) doku- menteret, at den samfundsmæssige nytte af flere kan- didater med en videregående erhvervsøkonomisk ud- dannelse er markant. Men på visse uddannelser på CBS skal man have tæt på 11 i gennemsnit fra sin studen- tereksamen.

For få forskere: Hvorfor kan CBS så ikke bare uddanne nogle flere? Det er desværre ikke så ligetil, som det kun- ne lyde. Vi har i år udvidet optaget med 150 studerende, men der er grænser for, hvor langt vi kan og vil strække det lovfæstede begreb forskningsbaseret uddannelse.

Der er nemlig ikke nok forske- repåCBStilat sikre, at et øget antal studeren- de kan møde ak- tive forskere på højt niveau. Og det er nødvendigt for at sikre, at underviserne benytter sig af den nyeste og mest relevante tilgængelige vi- den. Samtidig er det påkrævet,

hvis de studerende – som er morgendagens ledere – skal forstå, anerkende og være i stand til at bruge faktabase- rede analyser og videnskabelige metoder frem for anek- doter og simpel mavefornemmelse. Desuden skal alle uddannelser godkendes af Akkrediteringsrådet, som med god grund kræver, at en vis del af undervisningen varetages af forskere.

Forskningsbaseringen af uddannelserne sikres gen- nem universiteternes såkaldte basisforskningsmidler, og her får CBS en yderst beskeden andel; faktisk under 4 procent af de samlede bevillinger. Dette skyldes mulig- vis traditioner, men så vidt jeg ved også mange politike- res manglende viden om, at samfundsvidenskabelige og især erhvervsøkonomiske uddannelser skaber vækst.

Viharikkeråd:Menikkenokmeddet. CBS’taxameter- tilskud er mindre end halvdelen af, hvad f.eks. en inge- niørstuderende udløser. Tilsammen betyder dette, at CBS har langt færre forskere end andre universiteter. Vi har simpelthen ikke råd til at uddanne og ansætte nye forskere. Og det er altså ikke, fordi forskere på CBS ikke leverer varen; i ministeriets egen måling af resultater ligger CBS faktisk betydeligt over gennemsnit.

Vi vil meget gerne optage endnu flere studerende på CBS, der kan skabe vækst og arbejdspladser i både den private og offentlige sektor, men det kræver, at politiker- ne øger forskningsmidlerne til det erhvervsøkonomiske område. Måske kunne dette blive et tema for regeringens Vækstforum?

9.-10. september lægger CBS hus til næste møde i statsminister Lars Løkke Rasmussens (V) Vækstforum. Her vil regeringen og udvalgte repræsentanter fra er- hvervslivet og forskningsverden tage næste skridt i den vigtige diskussion om, hvordan Danmark får skabt en holdbar vækst i fremtiden. Netop diskussionen om, hvordan fremtidens uddannelser skal se ud, bør være et meget vigtigt element i den langsigtede strategi for dansk vækst.