Young Researchers’ Careers in Nordic Countries

A recording is avaliable further down in this highlight.

Earlier in June this year, a roundtable discussion on young researchers’ careers in the Nordic countries with perspectives from the social sciences and humanities was organized by the Holberg Prize Secretariat as part of the 2022 Holberg Week, which took place from 7 to 10 June.

In several Nordic countries as well as in the EU, several reports point to challenges for young researchers in the social sciences and humanities. In this seminar, the organizers approached two issues they describe as over‐arching.

First, over the last decades, challenge‐ and mission‐driven research has become increasingly important, states the organizers. This tendency has many beneficial effects, for instance in establishing closer connections between private and public partners or in aiding to make research agendas more agile and flexible. However, this tendency may also be understood as increasingly eclipsing more open‐ended, blue‐sky research. This is especially challenging – some would say worrisome – within the field of social sciences and humanities.

Second, they claim, academic career paths for young researchers within social sciences and humantiies in the Nordic countries are under pressure from a range of sources. Such pressure includes the lack of sufficient research funding, as well as the disconnect between an increasing number of temporary research positions and a stable or decreasing number of permanent academic positions.

Seeking possible solutions to these problems, the Holberg Prize secreteriat ask:

  • How should the Nordic countries meet this challenge to curiosity‐driven, basic research?
  • In what ways can we ensure, politically and financially, that the field of social sciences and humanities become more robust and thriving?
  • What potential role can collaboration between the field of social sciences and humanities and other disciplines play?
  • More broadly, what challenges, opportunities and risks does the future hold for young researchers within social sciences and humanities?
  • What new alliances can be forged within and between the Nordic countries, in order to support young scholars within these fields?
  • How can we strengthen the the field of social sciences and humanities in Nordic research and education?
  • What roles do higher education institutions play in preparing young researchers of sciences and humanities for the Nordic labour market?

After a short introduction by Norwegian Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe, Nordic researchers from University of Helsinki (FI), Umeå University (SE), University of Oslo (NO), Aarhus University (DK) and NOS-HS (NordForsk) met in two panel discussions.

A recording of the seminar is available below, and the event is part of the official programme for the Norwegian Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2022, and is relevant to both national and Nordic policy development.

This text was reworked in agreement with the Holberg Prize Secreteriat.