Photo credits:
Stewen Quigley

From the Principal

The Principal's Note
14 September, 2020

Celebrating 35 Years of Curiosity-driven Research

On September 9th 2020, the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS) celebrated its 35th
birthday. Under pre-pandemic circumstances, this would have been cause for a grand festivity
with invitees from across the world. Now, the celebration was held in a relatively low-key fashion
with the present group of Fellows-in-residence and staff. The moment was, nevertheless, cherished
as a memorable moment of gratitude and elation.

It was on September 9th 1985 that the first constitutive board meeting of SCAS was held. The ini-
tiative came from within the Swedish research system, more precisely from the predecessors of the
Swedish Research Council (VR) and from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (RJ). The constitution of
SCAS was the result of the vision, courage, and effort made by the first pioneers: Professors Bo
Gustafsson, Rolf Torstendahl, and Björn Wittrock, the founding Directors of SCAS. They envisioned
the formation of an institute that would stimulate advanced, problem-oriented, long-term basic research
in the social sciences (and subsequently more broadly) and that would encourage multidisciplinary and
international engagement and cross-fertilization. The founding Directors, with the later addition of
Directors Ulf Hannerz, Barbro Klein, and Göran Therborn, all deserve our deepest appreciation and re-
cognition for creating and cultivating a place where scholars may pursue their research under the most
favourable conditions.

SCAS owes to a significant extent its present position as an internationally renowned institute for ad-
vanced study to the efforts of Björn Wittrock, longstanding Principal of SCAS (1996-2018). The
magnitude of Björn Wittrock’s role for the development of the Collegium was duly recognized when
he received the Gustavus Adolphus Medal in Gold (Uppsala University 2017), with the motivation:
“… as Principal of SCAS and its driving force ever since its creation in 1985 [he] has contributed more
than anyone else to the strong position of the institute as an internationally renowned institute for advan-
ced study … and for having made great contributions to the social sciences and the humanities in Sweden
and in Europe”. The efforts of Björn Wittrock continue to be honored by the yearly Wittrock Lecture,
initiated by the Collegium in 2019.

The lively and intellectually stimulating environment at the Collegium owes its vigor also to the now 500
alumni who have been in residence here, and to its current Fellows. Furthermore, the constructive advice
and thinking of the Academic Senate, and of the National Board, have contributed immensely to providing
SCAS with a clear vision ahead.

In the spirit outlined by the driving forces behind SCAS, we look forward to nurturing the vision of an
institute for advanced study as a place for curiosity-driven research, and embrace the times and oppor-
tunities to come.