Faculty of Social Sciences

New dean and vice-dean at faculty from autumn 2017

Jan Erik Askildsen and Ragnhild Louise Muriaas want to strengthen the emphasis on external financing and facilitate the growth in the number of students at the faculty.

Professor Jan Erik Askildsen and Professor Ragnhild Louise Muriaas photographed outside the Faculty of Social Sciences building at the University of Bergen in April 2017.
READY TO TAKE OVER THE LEADERSHIP: Professors Jan Erik Askildsen and Ragnhild Louise Muriaas have been nominated as, respectively, dean and vice-dean at the Faculty of Social Sciences from autumn 2017. They are the only candidates.
Sverre Ole Drønen, University of Bergen

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The deadline to submit candidates to become the next dean and vice-dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences recently expired. Only one pair of candidates has emerged: Professor Jan Erik Askildsen, current head of department at the Department of Economics, to become dean and Professor Ragnhild Louise Muriaas from the Department of Comparative Politics, to become vice-dean.

With one option only, the usual election process will not be necessary. Instead, the faculty board will confirm the selection of the next leadership of the faculty.

Increased focus on external financing

We spoke to Askildsen and Muriaas to hear about their manifesto for the next four-year period, beginning with the future for research at the faculty.

“One of our central goals is to facilitate a strengthening of research activities at the departments. We need to publish more in high-level journals,” says Askildsen adding:

“The departments must be given space to develop measures so that our research is recognised in the wider research community, both nationally and internationally. It is, however, important that we include all researchers at the faculty, not only those environments covered by the university’s focus areas.”

“We will consider means to strengthen research management and expertise for all researchers, whether it be financial incentives or other support for research and publishing,” elaborates Muriaas.

The pair pledges active support for researchers to apply for applications from the European Research Council (ERC), Horizon 2020, SFF, SFI, SFU and other heavily funded programmes.

“Many more of our researchers should engage actively in seeking external funding, be it from the Research Council of Norway, the EU, the Bergen Research Foundation (BFS) or other sources. This paves the way for accommodating more young researchers in recruitment positions, and can counteract an expected tightening in the faculty's finances,” Askildsen points out.

How education drives research

The last years has seen an increasing focus on how education contributes both financially and as a motor for research initiatives. The new dean and vice-dean see plenty of future opportunities to take this further. They are currently in the process of deciding on a vice-dean for education to join them as part of the faculty leadership.

“Recruitment of good and motivated students is high on our list of priorities. But competition for students is tough. We want to attract students who have the desire and the competence to enrol at the University of Bergen,” says Askildsen.

They wish to cooperate closely with various student organisations on measures to take care of and follow up students.

"We will also actively encourage the academic community at the faculty to apply new teaching methods and new digital tools. At the same time, the departments need to have a conscious strategy and ensure that they implement real learning measures,” Muriaas says.

A good work environment for all

With a tighter economy at the university, Askildsen and Muriaas are also aware that some may feel insecure about what the future holds.

“We will ensure us that the faculty follows up the work environment survey conducted and that binding measures are presented to ensure good working conditions for all employees,” says Askildsen.

New technology may be used both to improve administrative routine work, but can also be challenging for some employees.

“Improving our services and use of resources as well as developing expertise among our administrative staff are important to achieve results also within our core areas of activity: research and education. It is, however, important that these processes are perceived as new opportunities rather than insurmountable requirements,” Muriaas makes clear.

UiB’s strategy is at the core

Askildsen and Muriaas also want to take advantage of the opportunities to be found in UiB's strategy for 2016-22 – Ocean, Life, Society. Both UiB’s three focus areas and the development of knowledge clusters will be important for the faculty’s future.

“The faculty has received funds to develop a new media cluster, Media City Bergen, and we will help to ensure that this is a success. We will also actively contribute to the establishment and development of a new centre for climate research in the social sciences at the faculty,” say Jan Erik Askildsen and Ragnhild Louise Muriaas, who both look forward to leading the faculty.

The new dean and vice-dean will take over the leadership at the faculty on 1 August 2017.