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The 2014 Malmӧ RIT Symposium

October 31, 2014

“Malmö is also undergoing a transition from being an industrial city to a city of knowledge. Older industries have been replaced by investments in new technology and training programmes of high calibre. Malmö University, which opened in 1998, is Sweden's latest venture in the field of higher education, accommodating some 25, 000 students.”

-City of Malmӧ website

 

It is fitting that we devote this blog to the very successful 2014 Malmӧ University and RIT joint symposium that recently took place September 30 through October 2 at Malmӧ University. This year's meeting follows the successful symposium that RIT hosted last year and builds on the terrific emerging partnership between RIT and Malmӧ University.  

malmo handshakeThe symposium this year was organized around "labinars" which can best be described as loosely structured discussions with outcomes of interdisciplinary projects involving faculty from both universities. It was stimulating to watch faculty gravitate to areas of interest, become engaged in conversations, and start planning new courses, new research ideas, and next steps in developing the partnership. And faculty represented all the domains of interest - humanities, social sciences, computing, engineering, sciences, and the arts. RIT faculty came from 6 colleges - COLA, GCCIS, KGCOE, CIAS, COS, GIS - as well as RIT Croatia and AUK so the symposium was well represented by many disciplines. And promoting interdisciplinary work remains a key objective with this partnership. It was particularly gratifying to see social scientists, humanists, computing faculty, scientists and faculty of the arts working together and enjoying how gaps in their expertise can be filled by others from different disciplines.  

Strategically, the partnership with Malmӧ is important. Located in Malmӧ, Sweden, the Malmӧ region includes approximately 1.2 million residents and is only 20 minutes away from Copenhagen by train. The city, not unlike Rochester, is undergoing significant change. In the 70s, Malmӧ was home to one of the largest ship-building industries in the world. This all collapsed in the mid-90s when where the shipyards were closed due to a decline in demand and an increase in global competition. The economic challenges of the city persisted through the 1990’s.  Today, Malmӧ is a model of how university and community collaboration can transform a city.  Malmӧ University is a hub of creativity and innovation and its interdisciplinary approach to community engagement has been central to making the city one of the fastest growing in Scandinavia. 

Today, thanks to bold, visionary local leadership, Malmö is again a bustling city built with hundreds of the knowledge and information companies. Central to their success was the rapid development and growth of Malmö University, which was founded in 1998 and now has over 24,000 students. What makes Malmӧ particularly interesting from RIT perspective is leadership role it has made for itself in the area of sustainable urban development. Sweden is a country that models a citizenry committed to minimalizing its impact on the environment and creating a 21st century urban areas that are smart, green, and sustainable. While RIT has much to add to this domain, we can also learn much from our friends in Malmӧ. Working together, Malmӧ University and RIT can really have incredible impact.  

For this impact to blossom, we need to see more faculty from engineering, computing, science, and engineering technology to explore connections with faculty over in Sweden. If after reading this, you are interested, please contact me and I'll be sure to connect you with the RIT-Malmö Partnership Committee. 

A lot of work went into planning the symposium and it continues with the plethora of new projects that are emerging from it. Special thanks go to Ann Howard, Tim Engstrom, members of the RIT-Malmö Partnership Committee and the staff of the Office of International Education and Global Programs. 

 

Photo: Dr. Stefan Bengtsson, Vice Chancellor of Malmӧ University, and me signing the renewal of our memorandum of understanding between Malmӧ University and RIT.