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Faculty of Social Sciences

Strategy 2011–2015

The Faculty of Social Sciences shall develop fundamental knowledge of society via research, education and public exchange of opinion. Our academic groups shall develop thorough insight into the challenges faced by modern society. We shall contribute to the future development of our culture, commerce and social life, to ensuring a vital democracy and a global knowledge society. Our academic groups shall recruit and educate skilled professionals, gain a high ranking, international reputation and ensure high quality in all their activities.

The social, cultural, political and economic processes which are the main driving forces behind modern social development form the core elements of our field. Our academic groups and students shall contribute towards a higher understanding of the nature, conditions and consequences of such developments. With heightened insight and understanding, we will be able to gain new skills which are of relevance to research, education, commerce and public institutions.

The academic groups and students at the Faculty of Social Sciences shall apply genuine inquisitiveness, creativity and dialogue in order to manage, generate and engender knowledge at an international level. Our activities shall be firmly based on the values of the University's research activities: freedom, independence and a high ethical standard.

National academic evaluations and international classifications substantiate the position held by our academic groups as leading forces in international research. We have excellent cooperative relationships with powerful international groups. The organisation of our seven Departments according to discipline shall provide a strong academic level for research. The main challenge faced is to realise the potential for cooperation and to create good interaction between discipline-based research and innovative interdisciplinary research. All permanent members of the scientific staff have the right and duty to both carry out research and to teach.

The Faculty provides a wide range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary study programs, all of which are research-based and qualify for advanced study up to doctoral degree level. International exchange schemes provide attractive offers for students both at home and abroad. When it comes to education, our main challenge is to identify a good balance between the uniqueness of each academic group and demand from society.

Changes in general conditions for the University and College sector represent both challenges and opportunities for the Faculty. Fundamental financing is increasingly based on results, and external funding is required to maintain and further develop our academic activities. In order to meet such challenges, our academic groups must be able to generate as much added value as possible from their core activities, at the same time as exploiting external funding to strengthen such activities.

 

RESEARCH

Objectives

The Faculty of Social Sciences shall contribute towards research which provides an insight into social contexts and challenges. Our academic groups shall gain an international reputation and shall develop and grow stronger by working on theory, methodology and project development. At the same time, investments shall be made in interdisciplinary research which involves several disciplines and faculties. Research work shall be free and independent, with a high ethical standard.

Strategies

The Departments' academic groups make up the true foundations of the Faculty's research activities. The academic groups shall have ambitions for top level publication. The groups shall focus on communicating their research to the general public.

The academic groups shall achieve good cooperation, strategic management and close dialogue between researchers, research groups and the Department Heads and Faculty management.

A number of the Faculty's research groups shall achieve recognition as international leaders within their field. This may apply to research groups, projects, academic disciplinary fields or prioritisation of individual subjects. The academic groups shall cooperate with relevant and recognised research groups both at home and abroad.

The academic groups shall achieve a leading position in both national and international competition for research funding. External funding shall be utilised to strengthen the quality of research and provide for good recruitment in important fields.

The academic groups shall strive to recruit skilled colleagues to all types of academic positions. A high level of quality for all academic activities shall ensure good recruitment of PhD candidates and Postdoctoral fellows.

Research education shall be reinforced by ensuring high integration among the academic groups and further development of the researcher schools and other measures related to disciplinary and subject-based initiatives.

Strategic measures shall be implemented to contribute towards multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches and research-based knowledge of the challenges faced by society. During the planning period, the Faculty shall primarily target the following: 
- Research relating to development
- Welfare, working life and migration
- Democracy and constitutional government
- Climate change and social consequences and initiatives
- Information, communication and culture


Description

The academic groups at the Faculty of Social Sciences have an international reputation and can boast a positive development in research work. The groups have achieved an increased level of publication and growth within their activities with external funding, in strong academic competition from national and international institutions. The ambition of the academic groups is to further reinforce their research activities by recruiting new staff, assigning priority to certain resources and academic development within a good peer fellowship.

The recruitment of skilled colleagues plays a central role in the further development of the academic groups. Talented PhD candidates and Postdoctoral fellows form an important part of the efforts relating to research strategy and have a decisive impact on academic innovation and further development of the research groups. In order to ensure high quality, the education of researchers shall be closely linked to research within the basic groups. The PhD candidates shall have the opportunity to take part in local, national and international research schools.

The academic groups shall have a close peer cooperation which substantiates project development and publication, and which contributes towards good results for both the individual and for the academic group as a whole. External evaluations of the groups will be utilised when working on the development of the academic disciplines.

A strong focus on the basic aspects of a discipline will provide our academic groups with a competitive edge when it comes to external funding. Cooperation between the different academic groups, with the development of target areas relating to subjects, is also important for the development of good analyses of social challenges and correlations.

The Faculty management has an important task to facilitate good general conditions for all academic staff with which to research and contribute to education and dissemination. We all have a joint responsibility to exploit, further develop and realise the academic potential found within our groups. Researchers shall be allowed to develop skills in academic management, by being allocated guidance tasks and management of research projects. During the strategy phase, the Faculty will implement measures to increase the level of know-how on project development and project management.

The Faculty will facilitate academic fora, meeting places and coordination in order to strengthen research cooperation among the different Departments. We shall also cooperate with relevant research groups outside the Faculty and continue to prioritise the Departments in the areas bordering Bergen. Research residencies, additional positions, projects and networks shall contribute towards the development of academic cooperation, improving the quality of research and strengthening the Faculty's international profile. The position of Adjunct Professor represents an important resource which should be more heavily exploited for project development, internationalisation and to increase the ratio of females appointed to academic positions.

The Faculty's strategic targets should be dominated by the following aspects:

Research is innovative and has solid foundations within the individual Departments

Research achieves external funding or gains priority when allocating internal resources

There are expectations for the future and the results of the project

The research field has a critical mass of researchers and high potential to recruit students, PhD candidates or Postdoctoral fellows

Interdisciplinary and possibly inter-faculty cooperation is established and meeting places are established for numerous diverse academic groups

Significant scope of national and international cooperation established and researchers are engaged in academic production at a high level

It is important to exploit the opportunities for external funding where relevant and where this may improve the quality of the core activities. Efforts shall be made to strengthen know-how of research administration so that good administrative support can be provided to the development of applications and during the operating phases of the projects.

 

During the strategy phase, the Faculty will assign particular priority to the following research fields:

Research related to development

This research area has strong traditions within the Faculty, and global issues related to development are increasingly topical. The research activities of our academic groups follow two principal axes. One axis revolves around global comparative studies of culture, society and political processes with a regional focus. The second axis revolves around studies of global challenges and local adaptations, with a particular focus on the relationship between resources, poverty, health and power. One of the targets in this field is to develop a high level of knowledge of the major regions involved.

Welfare, working life and migration

One of the basic challenges to be faced in the near future is the maintenance and development of the Norwegian welfare state. This is challenged by demographic changes, migration, an increase in social and cultural heterogeneity, new challenges relating to health care policy and the globalisation of economics, politics, employment and commerce. Studies in Norway and abroad of the complex interacting processes which contribute towards the development and change of the welfare state shall provide new knowledge of and insight into the development of the welfare state.

Democracy and constitutional government

Democracy and government challenges represent a fundamental subject for social sciences. This field requires constant innovation and is constantly tested by new global challenges. These comprise for example climate change and resource management, multi-culturalism, flow of migration, threats to the freedom of speech and breaches of political and social rights. Social change and the acceleration of legislation raise important issues regarding the conditions for participation in political debate, the distribution of power and decision-making processes.

Climate change and social consequences and initiatives

Issues relating to the environment, resources and climate are of central importance for the future of our society, both locally and globally. Our academic groups shall contribute both knowledge and insight into general conditions, communication and decision-making processes involving climate and environmental policy at the same time as sustaining a principal perspective of the consequences, adaptations and measures related to climate change. In order to develop this research field, a network for cooperation shall be built, on a local, national and international scale.

Information, communication and culture

Methods and processes for communication play an essential role in political, economic, social and cultural processes in our society. The correlation between culture, communication and communicative expressions shall be addressed. This also implies analysis of the correlation between the role of the media, their IT prerequisites and consequences and general cultural processes at different levels of society.

 

EDUCATION

Objectives

The Faculty of Social Sciences shall provide research-based education of a high academic quality. The students shall contribute towards the future of our culture, society and commerce, and their education shall promote a critical mindset, academic refinement and ethical reflection. Their education shall qualify the students for academic activities and other work within society which requires academic insight, knowledge and an analytical mind.

Strategies

The education on offer shall be further developed on the basis of the disciplines, the unique nature of the academic groups and demand from society.

The Faculty shall recruit skilled and motivated students by providing attractive study programs. We shall sustain good acceptance quality, ensure good student turnover and minimise undesired drop-out of students.

A good, pleasant student environment shall be maintained by including students and PhD candidates in the academic groups and research fellowships involved. The student organisation shall be provided with good facilities for generating their own environment.

The Faculty will allow for increased student mobility by developing international study programs and a well-organised and easily available exchange program.

Contact with society at large and business and commerce shall be increased by further developing former student activities, work experience schemes, the working life panel and other relevant initiatives.

Education of researchers shall be integrated into the educational field in terms of both academics and administration. This shall provide a comprehensive sequence of education in line with the development within European higher education.

Education of researchers shall predominantly be free, with plenty of guidance, in an inclusive and inspiring academic environment, based on the fundamental environments and with a close and comprehensive system of follow-up for the candidates.

Continuing and further education shall be developed in academic fields related to the core activity of the academic group in question and shall provide the foundations on which to strengthen ties with the world at large.


Description

The education on offer shall be renewed and further developed in line with academic challenges and the changing requirements of society. The education on offer shall be designed to cater for demand, acceptance quality and good exploitation of resources. The teaching environment shall comprise a high and varied degree of education, good information and guidance services, library services, good workplaces for students, IT resources and other support functions.

The students shall be met with a well-organised student reception service and a high-quality information and guidance service. The Faculty aims to promote student activities and good dialogue with the student organisations. The Faculty shall chart student motivation and mobility in relation to drop-out and turnover figures.

Research-based education and close follow-up by active researchers and skilled supervisors shall help improve the students' new academic knowledge. The students shall be offered various forms of education and shall be tested using a range of evaluation methods.

The academic groups shall make use of evaluations when revising and developing the educational programs. Regular subject evaluations, program sensor reports, program evaluations and other measures shall be utilised in order to further develop the education offered.

The international students are an important resource and must be provided with good academic and social integration. The Faculty will evaluate the potential of establishing a higher number of English language courses which may attract the interest of international students. At the same time, the Faculty shall raise the level of knowledge of English as a study language and working language for our Norwegian students. Our exchange program shall be attractive academically, well-organised and easily available, using measures such as recommended exchange courses. The choice of study location abroad shall be made according to academic recommendations, and shall preferably be at universities which have an established research cooperation.

Surveys show that our candidates are in demand and attractive on an increasingly difficult labour market. Information on their skills and superiority shall be communicated to society and commerce using measures such as activities organised by former students, development of practical training and use of the working life panel. The descriptions of learning outcome shall provide a good illustration of the knowledge, skills and general expertise our candidates have gained once they have completed their education.

The Faculty of Social Sciences has a well-organised program for researcher education. The PhD candidates shall be fully integrated into the research fellowships within the academic groups. The education offered to the candidates shall be reinforced by setting up disciplinary and subject-related research schools in cooperation with other academic groups in Norway. The Faculty will improve on the guidance on offer and ensure that the candidates receive close academic follow-up. Seminars shall be held and fora shall be established for meetings to help ensure all candidates are integrated within good and motivating academic groups.

A number of doctoral degree candidates will go on to have a career outside of academia. This implies a responsibility to ensure that researcher education also relates to working life outside of the research field. Required duties and dissemination should be varied and relevant to working life, both within and out with academia.

The Faculty of Social Sciences shall provide good continuing and further education which is adapted to the diverse range of needs made by society on both short and long term education. Continuing and further education shall be based on the research and shall be subject to the same stringent requirements on quality assurance as ordinary education. Marketing of the education offered, targeting different groups of candidates, requires improvement.

The Faculty of Social Sciences will contribute towards educating teachers who have a strong basic education in social sciences. The Faculty will therefore continue to develop its didactic education on offer within its 1-year program in educational theory and practice in a manner which benefits society. By providing a quality assured education with academic foundations, we aim to provide teacher training based on academic specialisation. The subject didactics offered shall ensure that our candidates achieve the level of expertise they require to teach in schools.

 

DISSEMINATION, COMMUNICATION AND SOCIAL DIALOGUE

Objectives

The Faculty of Social Sciences shall exploit the special premises involved in social sciences to contribute to the public exchange of opinion and social development, both at home and abroad. The academic groups shall play an active role in communication and contact with society. All publications, education and dissemination of knowledge to the world at large shall illustrate inquisitiveness, quality, insight and involvement.

Strategies

The University's value base shall be a dominant feature of all communication with the general public. The Faculty facilitates for publication in open, institutional archives.

External and internal communications shall represent a distinct and integrated part of the activities of the academic groups, and the international dimension of communications shall be further developed.

Internal and external communications shall be enhanced, in relation to both education and research. Communications shall focus on both interdisciplinary activities and activities connected to individual fields. The Faculty shall have high-quality and clearly defined websites which help provide good social dialogue.

The communication of academic activities shall help attract the interest of the general public in the education offered by the Faculty.   

The communication skills of the academic groups shall be exploited and enhanced. When communicating with the general public, we shall illustrate advanced methods in the use of digital media.

When communicating with the general public, the Faculty and Departments shall act as a premise provider by initiating, planning and taking part in shaping new projects and research programs.


Description

One of the main tasks of the University is to disseminate and communicate the results of research and facilitate participation in social debate for the Departments' employees and students. Publication implies a communication of the research process and its results to the research fellowship in the form of presentations, seminars and conferences, and written publications on the Internet or in printed media. Education takes the form of oral communication with the students and is principally organised via web communications. The dissemination of knowledge to the general public and social contact can be directed to both relevant target groups and to an interested public.

Our groups shall contribute towards public exchange of opinion and we shall also pay a role as premise provider for our partners and research projects. In order to promote the communication skills of our academic staff, we shall organise communication courses, particularly for younger researchers.

We shall create academic profiles in order to generate interest in and knowledge of our activities and to help with the recruitment of new students. In terms of recruitment, international students, students from other universities and colleges and pupils at upper secondary school are important target groups. The Faculty shall also continue to focus on the activities of former students as part of recruitment work.

 

ORGANISATION AND WORKPLACE

Objectives

The Faculty of Social Sciences shall be organised in a way which safeguards academic goals and factors required for high quality. The working environment shall help ensure the quality of all activities, shall be motivating, aid development, be inclusive and shall promote mutual respect.

Strategies

The Faculty's management and administrative models shall be based upon good academic and personnel management and shall allow the involvement and inclusion of colleagues in decision-making. The Department Heads shall play a central role both academically and personally in the development of the academic groups.

Active efforts shall be made to recruit the most highly skilled academic persons to all types of positions. Measures to address the imbalance among female and male employees shall receive priority. Recruitment efforts shall target increasing the number of females in academic positions and the number of males in administrative positions. Female Postdoctoral Fellows and Associate Professors will be provided with special schemes for further qualification in fields where females are under-represented.

The management shall focus on the significance of the working environment for the activities and the personal and academic development of staff. The management shall develop its own knowledge of this area and implement systematic and continuous efforts in the development of the working environment in cooperation with the safety organisation.

Cooperation between the academic and administrative staff shall be marked by mutual understanding and respect. The Faculty shall achieve a good balance between academic and administrative positions.

The Faculty shall sustain a satisfactory management of resources which substantiates academic priorities and plans. Efforts shall continue to target models and management tools which can provide good financial control.

The administrative services shall be organised and further developed via various forms of joint services, where quality, service, solidity, flexibility and good resource exploitation are decisive factors.


Description

The Faculty's most important resource is active colleagues who perform to their best abilities. The Faculty shall be an attractive workplace for all groups of employees at all stages of life. The recruitment process shall be professional and efficient. Personnel management shall be high quality, efficient and shall target solutions.

A good working environment is decisive for the Faculty's activities and is therefore a responsibility which must be taken care of by both management and the individual members of staff. Cooperation and interaction between the different groups of employees and the different units and levels within the Faculty also play a decisive part in safeguarding the Faculty's activities and working environment. All employees are individually responsible for helping to ensure a good working environment.

All forms of discrimination must be opposed. The Faculty faces a challenge related to an imbalance in the ratio between male and female employees, both in academic and administrative positions. This problem shall be addressed when allocating permanent academic positions. The Faculty shall assign priority to increasing the number of males in administrative positions, and this shall be a central aspect when recruiting candidates to administrative positions.

The Heads of Departments and Faculty management shall provide for the daily management of the Faculty's activities and facilitate decision-making within the selected bodies. The forum for Heads of Departments is an important meeting place for development of activities. The Faculty shall be recognised as having open decision-making processes and good systems for resource management. The employees shall be allowed involvement and participation in the decision-making processes.

The fundamental Faculty activities take place within the academic groups. The Faculty management and administration provide coordination and support. Academic factors and aspects relating to quality of the services shall have a decisive impact on the choice of organisational structures/models.

Systematic efforts shall be invested in the development of all administrative support functions based on the knowledge development plan for the administration. The Faculty must prioritise and re-distribute resources as required in order to provide for fields which are in need of particular development.

The Faculty Board is the principal, elected governing body with the authority to make decisions on principal and strategic matters, to allocate resources and establish long-term priorities.

 

Organisation of the Faculty

The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Bergen was established in 1970 and celebrated its 40th anniversary in September 2010. The academic groups are located near the city centre and comprise seven Departments.

The Departments provide education at all levels. The Faculty has approx. 2,600 students taking Bachelor and Master's degrees, covering 40 different study programs. The Faculty provides 15 Bachelor programs, 14 Master's programs and 10 one-year programs. Some of the above are interdisciplinary or involve several faculties. All the Departments provide programs for doctoral degrees. The Faculty has a total of approx. 150 PhD students.

In 2010, the Faculty had approx. 130 man-years in permanent academic positions and 81 man-years in Postdoctoral and PhD positions. The administrative and technical personnel comprise approx. 60 positions.

The Faculty has elected a Dean and the Departments have each elected a Head of Department. The Faculty Board is the principal elected governing body.

 

›The Department of Administration and Organisation Theory

One of two departments related to political sciences. The Department focuses on an approach to public politics and government related to the subject of organisation. Organisation is considered an important basis on which to understand central concepts such as democracy, power, law and order and efficiency. The synthesis of organisation as a subject and political sciences provides the Department with a comparative edge, not least on an international scale.

 

The Department of Comparative Politics

The second department related to political sciences. Focuses on studies of political institutions, organisations, processes and conduct on a local, national and international scale. The name of the department is derived from its comparisons of different political systems over time which have helped gain the department a reputation as a significant international component. The Department plays a central role in the analysis of political systems at home and abroad.

 

The Department of Geography

The interaction between people, nature and society in time and space is a central subject for the Department. Important questions are where and how people and resources are distributed, how and by whom society and resources are managed and how resources can be exploited in a sustainable fashion. Research and education relate to natural climate change based on glaciers, floods, avalanches and frost; to the natural and cultural landscape, biodiversity and ecology; to development in third world countries, health, migration and political ecology; to entrepreneurship, business development, change, planning and regional development; to system dynamics and geographic information systems (GIS).

 

›The Department of Information Science and Media Studies

The Department represents a unique combination of two subjects in a Norwegian context. The background for this combination is the digitalisation of media and communication methods and a desire to strengthen interdisciplinary research into the ICT revolution. Important parts of the Department's research into media studies relate to media structure, media and cultural policy, media aesthetics and rhetoric, political communications, popular culture and use of the media. A central aspect of information sciences is the study of information and communication technology within their diverse social and organisational contexts.

 

›The Department of Social Anthropology

The Department is one of the largest anthropological academic groups in Europe and has played a significant role in the development of modern social anthropology at home and abroad. The academic group has a global orientation and plays a key role in research and education related to development. The Department plays a particularly strong research role in the studies of the Middle East, East Africa, the Pacific islands, South and South East Asia and Europe, and relating to global comparative studies of culture, nation and state, local religions, migration and ethnicity, power and management of natural resources.

 

›The Department of Economics

The Department covers a wide range of subjects within social economics. The methodical core expertise of the Department staff relates specifically to incentive theory and applied micro-econometrics, forming the basis for both theoretical and empirical research. Over time, the Department has developed particular expertise in the analysis of major register databases. Central research fields are labour market economics and social security economics, health care economics, business economics and economic organisation, resource and development economics. 

 

›The Department of Sociology

The Department's research work focuses on an empirical approach, with a broad theoretical and methodical organisation. Important subjects include social disparities, gender, welfare, work, education, immigration, globalisation and environmental problems. The academic group is active and plays a strong role in its field, with a high number of publications and an expansive international network.