Research into Higher Education and in particular, university pedagogy, has been carried out for many years in Sweden. However, although a large number of researchers have focused on Higher Education and built informal networks at both the national and international level, there has been no formal network that has a connection to a national body such as Swednet. Exactly one hundred years after the first Professor of Pedagogy was appointed (see Swednet News 2010-08-27) the Social Science Faculty at Stockholm University established Sweden's first professorship in Higher Education. This position is based at the Education Department at Stockholm University and in late 2010, together with Max Scheja, the newly appointed professor, Michael Christie, created the Stockholm Higher Education Research Network (SU-SHERN). Their ambition was that the Network would, as soon as possible, become a Swedish and eventually a Scandinavian or Nordic Network. SHERN is network open to all PhD students, researchers and educational developers with an interest in university pedagogy and broader issues within Higher Education. The Swednet decision in May 2010 and subsequent lobbying by an interim Board for SHERN, has meant that this network has now expanded nationally. SHERN Board
Currently the SHERN Board is composed of researchers in the Stockholm region. A new Board will be elected in 2012 to ensure more national representation. The current Board, which was created in Autumn 2011, is composed of Michael Christie, Anders Gustavsson, Paula Mählck, Fredrik Oldsjö, Klara Bolander Laksov and Max Scheja, and is responsible for coordinating a number of activities, the most important of which is arranging SHERN seminars.
From January 2012 the function of the new Board will be:
- Organising a National SHERN seminar series
- Assuring the quality of those who wish to include a seminar in the SHERN series
- Providing input into the academic online journal Högre utbildning (HU), preferably via membership on its proposed editorial board
- Connecting and cooperating with other Higher Education research networks, both nationally and internationally
- Assisting individuals and groups who wish to apply for research funding in the area of Higher Education
- Working towards the creation of a Scandinavian network
- Preparing an application to NordForsk for a Nordic Higher Education Network Seminars 2011
During 2011 the following seminars have been held. Subject didactics at the university level
. 17/2 2011. Panel with Tony Burden, Stefan Ekecrantz, and Lotta Jons. At Centre for Learning and Teaching, UPC, Stockholm University.Higher Education Research Policy in England: Class discourses and equality impacts
. 2/3 2011. Prof. Carole Leathwood from London Metropolitan University. At Dept. of Education, Stockholm University.The scholarly use of ICT in Higher Education
. 6/4 2011. Panel with Prof. Michael Christie, Uno Fors and Staffan Selander. At Dept. of Education, Stockholm University.Challenges and opportunities in research into learning in HE: the curious case of feedback to students
. 26/5 2011. Prof. Dai Hounsell, University of Edinburgh. At LIME, Karolinska Institutet.Equal opportunity and access to tertiary education: a comparison between Sweden and Australia
. 8/6 2011. Tom Stehlik, PhD, University of South Australia. At Centre for Learning and Teaching, UPC, Stockholm University.Free online courses and course material from MIT and Stanford - smart marketing or a commitment to lifelong learning and university service?
. 14/9 2011. Prof. Michael Christie. At Dept. of Education, Stockholm University.Practicum - en mötesplats?
. 12/10 2011. Britta Högberg, PhD, Stockholm County Council. At Centre for Learning and Teaching, UPC, Stockholm University.Managerialism or Entrepreneurialism in Universities - Is there a place for creativity?
. 16/11 2011. Aljona Sandgren. At Dept. of Education, Stockholm University.
SHERN has also been responsible for seminars that were given at Umeå University 27/1 2011, at KTH on 3/10 2011, and at Uppsala University on 25/10 2011. SHERN Vision
The vision that inspired the creation of SHERN was that research actually makes a difference in the ways in which academic work is organized. This involves the ways in which students are educated but also how staff at different levels of the academic hierarchy negotiate their everyday work lives in an increasingly changing and competitive knowledge economy. Nearly twenty years ago Ernest Boyer pleaded for a ‘reconsideration of scholarship' within higher education. SHERN's vision, like his, is to promote the integration of research, teaching and extension work at the university. Higher education research should not only concern itself with questions about how student learning can be enhanced in different disciplines but also how one can actively advocate innovative and pedagogical teaching and supervision at the university level. Integral to these questions are the ways in which teaching and research are organized and, ultimately, the democratic mission of Higher education institutions.
PhD research, especially in the humanities, can take up to four or five years to reach an audience, depending on whether the results are published as a monograph or as a collection of scholarly articles. If the aim of educational research is to improve practice the longer it takes to spread the results then the slower the impact will be. SHERN's vision is to integrate research and teaching and to encourage research that will both inspire in the long term because of the potency of its ideas and the thoroughness of its research methods, but also be of immediate use to faculty, students and the public. Preliminary research data should be used in staff development courses to activate the learning of faculty by providing an immediate, local, meaningful and scholarly stimulus to their thinking. Faculty, in their turn, could implement some of the findings in the subjects they teach or use them to promote a public understanding of their own research.
No matter how SHERN researchers publish or disseminate the fruit of their research the intent must always be to improve the quality of higher education. University teachers and supervisors often complain that educational research findings are hard to read and understand. This is partly a problem of ‘cross disciplinary culture shock' but it also has to do with a tendency for educationalists to write for their fellow researchers rather than for academics from all disciplines. SHERN's vision is that higher education researchers combine their skills as researchers and teachers and demonstrate their true scholarship by making their results both palatable and public.
In practical terms SHERN's vision is to establish a higher education research tradition in Sweden that is open to different research theories and methodologies and that is both theoretical and applied. It aims to do this by not only by assisting those who wish to seek funding for research into Higher Education but also by assuring the quality of a national series of seminars in the area of Higher Education - the SHERN seminar series. By linking its activities to Swednet SHERN hopes to reach both higher education researchers and developers and, if it is deemed desirable, act as an umbrella organization for existing research networks within Swednet.
The Annual report 2011 and plan for 2012 are found here
, end the minutes from the last board meeting here