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New Director of Faculty of Social Sciences

The Faculty of Social Sciences has appointed a new faculty director for the first time in 15 years. Alette Gilhus Mykkeltvedt wants to make the faculty more visible.

NEW DIRECTOR: Starting 20 April, Alette Gilhus Mykkeltvedt is the new director at the University of Bergen’s Faculty of Social Sciences.
NEW DIRECTOR: Starting 20 April, Alette Gilhus Mykkeltvedt is the new director at the University of Bergen’s Faculty of Social Sciences.
Photo:
Jan Kåre Wilhelmsen

“As a socially engaged person I am fortunate to work in an environment that is engaged with the major social issues and which creates knowledge that is relevant for the challenges that society faces,” says Alette Gilhus Mykkeltvedt.

Starting 20 April, she will start in her new job as the administrative head of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Bergen (UiB).

She looks forward to several challenges facing the faculty in the coming years.

“The faculty has to position itself both locally and nationally. We have to become more visible and more distinct,” she says.

The faculty has several elite research groups and researchers. One example is anthropologist Bruce Kapferer, who has received the prestigious Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). In addition there are several young and promising researchers Mykkeltvedt is sure will assert themselves in the coming years.

 

Answering society's challenges

Mykkeltvedt adds that there is an increasing competition in many fields, and one has to compete in recruiting the best students and employees, in addition to a tough competition securing research funds.

“To increase our research activity and develop more excellent research environments we will have to increase our revenues. We aim to focus on project development and applications to both the EU and the Research Council of Norway in the time to come,” says Mykkeltvedt.

Given the faculty’s research focus on society and tight relations with the world outside of academia, Mykkeltvedt believes that the faculty has certain advantages in securing funding and becoming more visible to the general population.

“There are great expectations and brilliant opportunities. Our researchers can provide answers to many of modern society’s major challenges, for instance regarding climate change and energy production, poverty, demography, and health. These challenges are of consequence for all people and for the whole society, which is our area of expertise,” she says.

The new faculty director wants more of the world class researchers to be more extensively profiled and thus become more broadly visible. Mykkeltvedt believes the best researchers and research environments need to be built over time, before adding.

“Not all researchers can be world class. We have to strengthen both our comprehensive academic work and the outstanding research. A good researcher is created by being part of an excellent research environment with an international network.”

 

Making research more visible

How should one make research more visible?

“Our researchers participate in the public debate with relevant research. It is important to maintain a dialogue with society. We cannot forget that major parts of our research is financed by the tax payer’s money and that this finances major parts of our research,” Mykkeltvedt says.

Another major challenge the faculty is faced with is a major generational shift. Several of the academic staff are approaching retirement age. A large-scale recruitment process is underway.

“We have to employ the best candidates, and have to attract both new talent and make sure that the young and promising researchers can evolve, build them up and support them. Katrine Løken, who recently was appointed as the youngest ever female professor of economics in Norway, is a good example showing that this process already has started,” says Mykkeltvedt.

 

Educating for the future

The faculty becoming more visible will also influence the recruitment of students the new faculty director believes.

“Future students will be made aware that our faculty offers them a relevant education of high quality. Statistics and surveys confirm this. The Faculty of Social Sciences educate graduates who move into important positions both nationally and internationally,” says the new director of UiB’s Faculty of Social Sciences, Alette Gilhus Mykkeltvedt.