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Rector Dag Rune Olsen welcomes the newly arrived international students – speech

Rector spoke to the newly arrived international students during their welcoming ceremony.
PHOTO/ILL.: Jørgen Thune Johnsen (left photo) & Vebjørn Granum Kjersheim (right photo), UiB.

“Culture and education are what link our history with our future. This is what makes us unique. Our soul, our culture, our diversity, our heritage.” So spoke the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her speech to the European Parliament in November last year.

Culture and education.
These two words will most likely also entail the most important experiences you will have here in Bergen. Hopefully, the time you spend here as exchange students will stand out as an important and formative period of your lives. I believe that you will have the opportunity to gain experiences here that you simply cannot gain from home or through other kinds of networking.

With this in mind, I welcome all of you – our international students, to the University in Bergen.

Now when I see you, I not only look upon students. I see representatives – from a great number of countries. You have travelled from Germany, Australia, China, USA, Romania, France, South-Korea, Sudan and Lithuania, to mention some.

You also represent an impressive span of knowledge,
as the range of subjects you will study is broad indeed. Thus, this welcoming ceremony not only carries symbolical importance.
It is also an important international and academical meeting place.

 

We live in a time where global challenges influence the whole world. To face these challenges, it is quite clear that we must cooperate and work together on all levels. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we communicate respectfully and understand each other. International meetings and networks make up a vital foundation for this to happen, and so you all represent an important part of this international teamwork.

Our own students who travel abroad often tells us about their stay. And they highlight how their stay has given them a new understanding of other people. They tell us about how student exchange has let them increase their multi-cultural knowledge, and that they have become more tolerant and socially competent when interacting with their fellows. I think and hope you may have similar experiences with your stay here in Bergen.

Our University offers a broad range of disciplines and subjects. This in turn leads to a diverse student mass and many varying opportunities for groups to join, organisations to befriend or perhaps new creative environments to innovate in.

 

Some might say that Norwegians are tough to befriend, but once you get to know us we will remain for life. I am not entirely sure about the accuracy of this saying. We are not as cold as some people may believe. But, there might still be some wisdom there for you to learn from.

After all, we know that many of our international students often befriend each other rather than getting to know our resident Norwegian students. This is a trend I hope to change. And so, awareness of the fact is important. This goes both for our Norwegian students, and for you. Perhaps a bit of advice is to have some patience and persistence with us.

But I also heartily recommend that you involve yourself in student organizations, both those who are driven by our international exchange students and our Norwegian students. Student driven organizations are a great way to make new friends and establish both social and academic networks.

 

Another thing about Norwegians, and this one may be embarrassingly accurate, is that we quite like to boast about our beautiful natural landscapes.

I am no different in this regard, and I hope that between hours of studying you will find time to see our beautiful sights. After all, Bergen’s seven city mountains are probably just a short trek away from where you live.

However, you must remember to take care. Our mountains are wonderful to hike in, but we know from experience that they can also be dangerous, so please be careful as we have no one to lose.

You have arrived here during Norway’s dark period of the year. But as time goes by, light returns and spring comes, you will discover how the city awakens and blooms. Students will fill the parks, streets and campus areas when the air gets warm and the mountains will be easier to traverse.

All in all, Bergen is a city that has a lot to offer and you will find that our students shape the city into one with flavour. They influence the way the city feels and flows, which in turn makes it a lively place to live, work and study.

 

Many of you have probably seen the film Love Actually during Christmas. So let me now allow myself to burrow and modify a small quote from Hugh Grant’s character – the British Prime-minister:

‘We may be a small city, but we are a great one too. The city of Ludvig Holberg, the Ylvis brothers, the winner of the World Idol – Kurt Nilsen. We have lots of rain, sometimes extreme amounts of rain come to that.’

But even if Bergen might be small compared to other cities in the world, we have a tight knit community and are known for our vivid student culture.

 

I hope you will learn a lot from your stay with us, not just academically, but socially and culturally as well. In return, I hope that you may exchange your knowledge and culture with us.

Maybe you will find friends here who would like to come visit your home countries. After all, our Norwegian students are always on the lookout for a place to travel to as exchange students themselves.

We are grateful and proud of the fact that you chose to come to us. Now we look forward to hosting you, and to do our best to make your stay rewarding.

Yet again, welcome to the University of Bergen!

 

 

 

Rektors julehilsen – Rector’s season’s greetings

Kjære studenter, medarbeidere og alumner.

(For english: https://www.uib.no/en/foremployees/123036/christmas-greetings-students-staff-and-uib-alumni)

Vi er ved enden av nok et rikholdig år.

I 2018 har vi virkelig markert oss internasjonalt. UiB er tilstede på mange arenaer, og det er tydelig at vår kompetanse påvirker verden.

En av disse forbindelsene har fått ekstra medieoppmerksomhet i år, nemlig våre forsknings- og utvekslingssamarbeid med kinesiske miljøer. Vi ønsker den kritiske debatten velkommen, samtidig er jeg godt fornøyd med vår økte kontakt og de enorme mulighetene dette medfører for å utvikle gode forsknings- og utvekslingssamarbeid.

UiB har også figurert i media i mange andre saker, men én var langt synligere enn resten. I høst leste vi om våre arkeologer ved Centre for Early Human Behaviour (SapeinCE), og deres banebrytende funn. De fant en stein med verdens eldste tegning, og nyheten spredte seg verden over. I fjor ble prof. Christoffer Henshilwood og hans team ved senteret tildelt status som senter for fremragende forskning. Årets funn illustrerer svært godt hvordan våre fremragende forskere utvider kunnskaps- og forskningshorisonten.

UiB er først ute på flere områder, og i år var vi det første universitetet som lanserte en humaniorastrategi. Denne følger opp Stortingsmeldingen om humaniora. De siste internasjonale rankingene viser at våre humanioraforskere faktisk ligger på sjetteplass i hele verden for mest sitert forskning. Da skulle det bare mangle at vi er frempå i vårt strategiske arbeid.

At vårt strategiske arbeid bærer frukt ble vi vitne til i Barcelona. Der holdes konferansen Gartner Symposium/ITxpo for mer enn 7000 europeiske IT-topper og andre europeiske ledere. Og UiB ble trukket frem som et eksempel på hvordan man kan nærme seg en full digitalisering av eksamener. En fjær i hatten for digitaliseringsstrategien vår, DigUiB-programmet, og for alle som har jobbet for å innføre dette.

Vårt grundige digitaliseringsarbeid er òg synlig i årets mange viktige tildelinger til UiB-prosjekter. For eksempel fikk vi nå helt på tampen av året gledelig beskjed om to av fire innvilgede søknader til DIKUs prosjekter for digitalisering.

Også andre markante lanseringer fra fjoråret er i full sving i år. Vårt nyeste fakultet for kunst, musikk og design, er et godt eksempel på dette. I år ble UiB det første norske universitetet med ph.d. i kunstnerisk utviklingsarbeid. Vi ser også at mange spennende tverrfaglige samarbeid er i emning. For eksempel arbeides det mellom designere og medisinere, blant annet for å møte helseutfordringer som demens.

Medieklyngen vår, Media City Bergen, er et annet godt eksempel på synergier som har fortsatt fra etableringen i fjor. Medieklyngen får mye ros, og internasjonalt ser man til Bergen. I år har vi også åpnet et nytt senter for gravejournalistikk, som jeg er spent på å høre mer fra i fremtiden.

Næringsminister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen oppsummerte kunnskapsklyngene våre på en fin måte, da han sa: «Dere har her i Bergen vist frem hvordan vi skal gjøre det som land.» Det er bare å fortsette å se mot vest, for vi vil vise dette i årene som kommer også.

Beveger vi oss enda lengre vest, nærmere bestemt over dammen og til Florida, kunne man være vitne til et lysende eksempel på UiBs forskning. Lyset kom naturligvis fra SpaceX rakettmotorene som var på vei opp i rommet, med UiB-forskning om bord. Birkelandssenteret ved UiB har utviklet instrumentet som skal måle atmosfæriske gammaglimt fra lyn, en del av ASIM-prosjektet. Nok et eksempel på strålende resultater fra arbeidet hos våre miljøer for fremragende forskning.

Men året har ikke bare vært gladsaker, for i høst mottok vi også den verst tenkelige beskjeden for et universitet. Det var med stor sorg at vi mottok meldingen om den tragiske bilulykken i Sør-Afrika som kostet en av våre studenter livet. Våre varmeste tanker går til de pårørende.

Dere studenter er det viktigste vi har, og det er av stor betydning for oss at dere har det bra ved UiB. I år kom Studentenes helse, og trivselsundersøkelse. Den viste dessverre at mange studenter i Norge opplever ensomhet. Men den viste også at de aller fleste studentene er svært tilfredse med studiebyen Bergen og med universitetet. På dette gode grunnlaget må vi må vi jobbe videre for å inkludere hverandre og møte utfordringer som ensomhet.

Også fikk vi nylig melding fra Helsedirektoratet om at vi får midler til arbeid med mentorordning ved bruk av seminarledere og viderekomne studenter. Dette er et samarbeid med studentsamskipnaden, og det kommer til å bli et viktig bidrag for studentene våre.

2018 har vært et strålende år for samarbeid med våre studenter. Vi har hatt stor nytte av studentdemokratiets innspill og vurderinger. Også ser vi at studentene våre er å finne i kulissene for mange av de spennende arrangementene her i byen. For eksempel står UiBs studenter bak konferanse-suksessene «Vi må snakke om fremtiden» og «Bergen International Student Conference». Klima- og samfunnsdebatten står stadig på agendaen.

At studentene er opptatt av klima og samfunn har vært tydelig også på andre arenaer. For de var viktige for vår første nasjonale bærekraftkonferanse. Denne har vært noe av det aller mest betydelige for UiB i år. Vi har dessuten tatt rollen som nasjonalt ledende universitet for bærekraft i vår sektor. Mange fikk nok også med seg at UiB er blitt offisielt knutepunkt for bærekraftsmål 14 (SDG14), Liv under vann, på vegne av FN-organisasjonen United Nations Academic Impact. Det er bare 16 andre universitet i verden som har fått slike roller, og vi er svært kry over våre havmiljøer.

Året har inneholdt mange ulike hendelser. Enten de har vært positive eller negative er dette noe vi takler sammen. Studenter og ansatte. Sammen forvalter vi en kunnskap definert av sin kvalitet. Det er med denne at vi utdanner, forsker, utvikler og skaper. Slik oppfyller vi også vårt samfunnsmandat, og dette vil jeg takke dere alle for. I år som alle tidligere år.

Da gjenstår det bare å ønske dere alle god jul, og et godt nytt år!

Dag Rune Olsen
Rektor

Rector Dag Rune Olsen’s opening speech, ViSmedia’s conference Watching in the Media

«Technology helps set the parameters of possibility. It frames our range of potential futures, but it doesn’t select one for us.»

Important words by The Guardian columnist Ben Tarnoff, as our everyday lives have indeed changed drastically over the last decades. Especially when it comes to how we interact with each other through technology, such as social media.

The phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words” was clearly not coined on todays use of pictures and video. Now, a single swipe on Instagram is worth a thousand pictures.

Boundaries are pushed every day, and we find that principles of privacy that previously were held in high esteem are challenged. This in turn effect journalistic work and the media.

Where journalists used to be characterized as a bit invasive, the tables may now have turned. It is our closest family or friends who share pictures and moments from our life in the public space of social media. Never has “private” information been this accessible.

Today it is not unusual to see private drones with cameras patrol the sky. We can be snapped, instagrammed or shared almost at any given moment. And the public now has instant access to news and live feed wherever they are.

Our own phones are no longer just for calling, but have become tracking devices like those we used to see in old James Bond movies. Except our phones are a lot more accurate at tracking our every move, because we allow them too.

I think we should be very aware of the technological advancements when it comes to who is being watched, and who is watching who.  But how does this affect us, is it a negative development or are there positive effects that outweigh it?

What does it all entail?

Perhaps we can find some wisdom in George Orwell’s novel “1984”. The novel describes the fictional and dystopic future of Great Britain, where the country is ruled by a totalitarian regime. And here is how Orwell imagined being a citizen in such a future:

“It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself – anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example) was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime, it was called.”

… Considering the influence of Facebook, I think Orwell was on to something with his facecrime, even if his dystopic description may be a lot darker than reality.

But all things considered, quoting Orwell is not an answer, and I certainly cannot tell you whether todays technology may have a positive or negative impact on us. Luckily for me, being rector of a university, I know where to find those who can.

And the future is looking bright!

Because I am of course talking about our students. It is they who will both live in and shape the future. The knowledge and methods students acquire through their education will be of enormous importance for coming development. On topics like these critical thinkers and sharp minds will be a deciding factor.

Therefore, it also makes me both proud and happy to see that there are students on the program here today.

I am convinced that students have a whole different understanding of all this surveillance advancement than we “elders” ever can achieve.

You see, I have witnessed this myself as some students at Media City Bergen were trying to show me how AR-googles worked, and how the program they had designed can be an important video editing tool. However, it really became clear who was the future, and who was the elderly.

 

Besides our students, excellent researchers like the ones from ViSmedia, are of great importance.

Through projects like ViSmedia who perform responsible research and innovation according to an international framework we may understand the development and adoption of visual surveillance technologies.

After all, academic knowledge is the key to understanding many societal challenges, and this one is no different.

And with that I welcome you all to the University Aula, and I hope you will have an enlightening and thought-provoking conference here today!

Thank you!