Focus on social sustainable development

How do we solve challenges such as ageing populations, lack of financial resources, and labour shortages? How do we build a socially sustainable society where we can maintain the Swedish welfare state as well as include the newly arrived? These and other issues were discussed by a group of researchers from three of the university’s centres when they were invited to a seminar in Brussels in mid-September.

The seminar was held at Vinnova’s office in Brussels where about 20 people participated. Five researchers from different disciplines presented the university’s research in cultural politics, welfare studies, and sustainable societal development.

Among other things, the researchers could conclude that we receive far too few newly arrived if our welfare state is to function in the future in the same way as before and still maintain trust in each other as well as to state.  This is complicated by the fact that online forums are tailored so that individuals on the Internet only take part in information they are expected to find interesting. In other words, filter bubbles are created that make individuals rarely come in contact with opinions that conflict with their own.

“I would say that if we could find platforms where we can discuss without so-called filter bubbles, this would be a way of creating trust. But the question is whether or not it is realistic or a utopian idea”, says Roger Blomgren, professor of library and information science.

Newly arrived are assets

During the seminar, the researchers also demonstrated the importance of building in a sustainable way, not only when it comes to resource recovery but also in terms of social inclusion.

“If it should be about sustainable construction, you have to consider things such as designing for an ageing population as well as designing in a way that enables integration, energy efficiency and safety when it comes to climate impact as well as using materials that could be recycled later”, says Agnes Nagy, senior lecturer in engineering.

The researchers also highlighted examples of the competences that the newly arrived bring with them to Sweden and how we could utilise their skills. Kennert Orlenius, professor of pedagogical work, told about the project ‘Konfektion 4.0’, which explores this in order to build a regional as well as internationally innovative platform for textile production.

“In fact, the newly arrived are an asset rather than a cost”, Kennerth says.

Fourth time in Brussels

This is the fourth time the University of Borås holds a seminar in Brussels. During the visit, the group visited several experts at the European Union and the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation in order to learn more about working with research in the EU.

“It is important to us to demonstrate the university’s research in Brussels, to establish contacts, and learn more about how we can influence which research is prioritised in the EU”, says Jenny Johannisson, deputy vice-chancellor for research.

Two intense days made the group of researchers inspired to continue their research in the field, together.

“During this visit, we have understood that our research questions are highly relevant when they plan for continued priorities and which research should be supported by the EU. Our ambition is now to write a research application where we can collaborate with our different specialisations in social sustainable development”, says Maria Wolmesjö, associate professor of social work.

The university is researching several EU projects

The visit was planned and carried out by the university’s Grants and Innovation Office (GIO).

“Over the past year, things have gone well for the university when it comes to research applications for the EU. In addition to our ongoing projects, we now have three contracts under preparation where one of them is coordinated from the University of Borås”, says   Dubravka Grdic Eliasson, research advisor at GIO.

The next period for applications to Horizon 2018-2020 opens in the end of October. But for interested researchers at the university, there are already drafts to access at the GIO.

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Centre for welfare studies

The centre for cultural policy research

Centre for sustainable society development

Text and photo: Anna Kjellsson