Internally appointed AIAS fellows to support internationalisation
Every year, the Aarhus Institute of Advances Studies (AIAS) receives fellows from all over the world, who come to find space to immerse themselves in their subjects, make new relationships and make AU visible on global research stages. Now, 23 new fellows from AU will forge stronger links between AIAS and the university.
If it were not for the pandemic, AIAS fellows would be meeting for lunch on Monday, a seminar during the week and on Fridays there would be a delicious breakfast in the AIAS building located between the chestnut trees in Vennelystparken. There would also be spontaneous meetings and events.
And there this collective atmosphere is there for a reason. As the director of AIAS,Søren Rud Keiding says:
"By being together we form relationships and the start of an academic collaboration can very well be a lunch or some another social gathering," says Søren Rud Keiding, who has headed AIAS since 2019, first as the acting director, and since December 2020 as the director.
Over the years, he has experienced fellows arriving in Aarhus and leaving one or two years later with much deeper insight into their research project, perhaps a new project in the pipeline, a clearer research identity, and an extended network. There are also the 25 per cent of AIAS fellows who will be remaining at Aarhus University to build up new research collaborations, raise grants and attract more international relations.
Taking things slowly
AIAS is a success in terms of cultivating international networks. Now, 23 fellows from among the academic staff at Aarhus University will help absorb AIAS further into Aarhus University. The idea is to contribute to the university's strategy for stronger international visibility in order to attract more academically strong profiles.
"We may well think that Aarhus University is a beautiful and wonderful university, but we are at a disadvantage in not being in Paris, New York or some other well-known city. We have to make an extra effort to bring the world to Aarhus," says Søren Rud Keiding.
At AIAS, the answer is to gather researchers together around what it really means to be a researcher. Paradoxically, there is not enough time to do this in busy everyday life, he says.
"Things go fast at the university. You have to publish, raise research funding, teach and focus on your subject. Such is life for a modern researcher, but there is a cost."
The 'cost' is what Søren Rud Keiding describes as a researcher identity. It can be regained by taking things slowly, for example.
"At AIAS, researchers have time and quiet to reflect on what actually drives them as researchers. Is it the life style? The questions I find answers to? The environment at AIAS supports conversation, closeness and curiosity, and it helps to raise awareness of a researcher’s research identity. After this comes new determination," says Søren Rud Keiding.
He has seen more than once how quiet reflection has led to more productive periods, often in communities across disciplines and nationalities. And these in turn have led to specific projects and funding.
Liaison officers to keep the lines open
These are some of the things that the 23 new fellows from AU will be experiencing and bringing back to their schools and departments. The 23 fellows can be divided into two groups; experienced AU researchers with solid knowledge about AU, and a group of younger researchers from abroad who need a good foundation at AU.
"The 23 fellows will be liaison officers between AIAS and AU. They’ll make the university visible to other fellows at AIAS and make AIAS fellows visible to the university," says Søren Rud Keiding.
The internally recruited fellows have not been released from their duties at their departments and schools. They will have access to AIAS on an equal footing with other fellows and can participate in social and academic events. On the other hand, Søren Rud Keiding hopes that the new fellows will act as ambassadors for what characterises AIAS: a research environment with contact across disciplines and nationalities. In this way, they will bridge between departments/schools, research environments and the international researchers who want to be at Aarhus University.
"AIAS is a platform for recruiting researchers from abroad to help AU to develop as a recognised international university. We must continue to support this development, and the new fellow scheme is an example of this," says Søren Rud Keiding.
Director, Professor Søren Rud Keiding dr.scient.
Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus Universitet
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