On 1–4 June, the Young Academy of Sweden and the Wenner-Gren Foundations welcomed leading experts to a symposium in Stockholm to critically assess the assumptions and explore the goals of internationalization and academic mobility in relation to changes in today’s society.

Photo: YAS

Opening remarks by the symposium program committe. From left: Ewa Machotka, Frida Bender, Philippe Tassin and YAS chair Mia Liinason. Photo: YAS


Internationalization of academia is often cited as an important ingredient for advancing research quality and for the renewal of ideas, perspectives, and methods within the research system. The mobility of researchers is a key ingredient for advancing the scientific career. But in the light of an ongoing pandemic, climate change, globalization, and more, it is evident that the subject of internationalization and mobility is a complex one.

With the purpose of investigating the various aspects, benefits and costs, of internationalization and academic mobility, the Young Academy of Sweden (YAS) and the Wenner-Gren Foundation organized an international symposium with prominent speakers. Topics such as “Academic mobility and scientific excellence”,The effect of internationalization on higher education systems”, “Mobility as a tool for enhancing young researchers' careers”, “Responsible internationalization in a turbulent world”, and many more, were explored.


YAS members Ewa Machotka and Philippe Tassin introducing Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, honorary professor, and former President of the ERC. Photo: YAS.

Among the speakers were Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, honorary professor, and former President of the ERC, who shared his personal experience of international mobility, which he pointed out had enriched his career.

Being emerged in an international context may confront you with new ways of doing things,
Professor Bourguignon reflected

Marijk van der Wende, distinguished professor of higher education, Utrecht University, talked about the growing tension between openness, and polarization and security issues and the role of internationalization of higher education systems, as she addressed the question “How open can it be?

Agneta Bladh, author of the white paper on internationalization commissioned by the Swedish Government, reasoned around the threats and opportunities of internationalization. She pointed out that internalization should promote intercultural understanding and that the purpose should be increased quality and contribute to sustainable development – locally, nationally, and globally.


YAS members at the symposium: Ewa Machotka (Japanese language and culture), Linda Andersson Burnett (history of ideas), Philippe Tassin (physics), Mia Liinason (chair, gender studies) and Lucy Delemotte (biophysics). Photo: YAS.

The symposium program committee consisted of YAS members Mia Liinason, YAS Chair and Professor in Gender Studies at Lund University and chair of YAS, Frida Bender, Associate Professor in Meteorology at Stockholm University, Ewa Machotka, Associate Professor in Japanese Language and Culture at Stockholm University and Philippe Tassinnewwindow.gif, Professor in Physics at Chalmers University of Technology.

After three days of immensly interesting discussions, we are very inspired to take the insights from this symposium further. As there is an increasing urge to rethink internationalization and academic mobility - how, why and for whom - this symposium came very timely, says Mia Liinason, The insights from these discussions will also be very fruitful for us when we plan the next meeting of the European Network of Young Academies, which we will host in Stockholm in spring 2023.

In May this year, Europe's young academies gathered for its annual network meeting to promote the exchange of ideas and collaborations. One outcome of this year’s meeting was the signing of the young academies' charter for membership exchange – an important step in promoting and facilitating mobility of young researchers. Next year the young academies of Europe will gather in Stockholm when YAS is hosting the ENYA-meeting 2023. We look forward to continuing the discussions of internationalization and academic mobility then.

The Young Academy of Sweden is delighted for the opportunity to co-organize this symposium together with the Wenner-Gren Foundations and wish to thank all who joined and the speakers for their insightful and inspiring perspectives:

The Wenner-Gren Foundations are committed to promoting scientific excellence through international exchange. Among other activities, the Wenner-Gren Foundations organize international symposia, aiming to bring together leading experts in selected fields of science. Almost 200 such symposia have been organized to date.


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