"The debate on artistic research must be conducted on the basis of correct facts"
Contribution to the debate by professors at SKH
The debate about the importance and role of artistic research in cultural life and in academia flares up at regular intervals. This summer, for example, the waves of debate rose high in the wake of Bogdan Szyber's rejected doctoral dissertation.
Debate on artistic research is important and we welcome it, but for it to be relevant and meaningful, it is important that it is based on correct facts. Therefore, we see it as extremely important to object to the description of the research competence of the professors at Stockholm University of the Arts (SKH) that the artist and researcher Jan Kaila expresses in an article in DN on March 3, especially as it has now been disseminated in Ulrika Stahre's article about the exhibition Experimentalfältet in Aftonbladet on March 13, where she writes about "lack of research competence at Stockholm University of the Arts” which she claims that the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) expressed in their remark 2016.
Jan Kaila was one of the experts who, on behalf of UKÄ, examined SKH's application to become authorised to award third-cycle degrees in 2016. The application was approved and SKH has since then continued to build and strengthen the artistic research environment.
In the article in DN, Kaila questions the level of education of our current professors and assistant professors. He claims that there is a lack of adequate research competence, that SKH does not follow the academic research hierarchy and that he had expected SKH to employ more teachers with a doctorate in art.
He gives his opinion based on statistics on the number of professors and assistant professors holding a PhD that DN presents in the article. These statistics are out-dated and to some extent misleading. Jan Kaila is also based on a wording in UKÄ's statement from 2016 where it is stated that it is important that SKH "in the future attaches great importance to securing the necessary artistic research competence and experience in recruiting teachers."
Several paths to research competence
The concept of "research competence" is the crux of this context. It is astonishing that a person like Jan Kaila does not seem to know that research competence in artistic practice can be achieved in other ways than by defending a dissertation.
The Higher Education Ordinance does not require a doctoral degree for those who are employed as professors in artistic activities. (Higher Education Ordinance, Chapter 4 §3: Eligible to be employed as a professor in artistic activities is the one who has shown both artistic and pedagogical skills.)
In this way, it is possible to employ active artists with pedagogical experience who work for a period within the academy. Together with the professors who have a doctoral degree, they maintain and develop the artistic quality and the formal educational side.
Quality-assured recruitment processes
It is true that not all professors at SKH have defended their dissertations. This is what the correct figures look like: SKH currently has 20 professors, seven of whom have defended their dissertations. All, both PhD and non-PhD, have received their employment through quality-assured recruitment processes and in accordance with the Higher Education Ordinance, chap. 4 §3.
We want to emphasize that we obviously see the value in disputing on an artistic basis. But we also want to point out that equivalent research competence can also be obtained through solid artistic practice and we see great value in both of these paths to research competence.
Obeyed the UKÄ
In the article from March 3, one can also get the impression that only three of the doctoral students' supervisors at SKH have defended their dissertations. The figures come from UKÄ's remark in 2016, where the authority wanted to see an improvement in this respect. Today's figures show that SKH obeyed what UKÄ wanted. Today, 19 of 29 supervisors have defended their dissertations. Although it is not a requirement that the supervisor must have a PhD, SKH sees it as a strength and a prerequisite for being able to conduct artistic education at the highest level that the professorial college and the doctoral students' supervisors have different competence and educational backgrounds.
Well-thought-out view of the research environment
SKH has a well-thought-out view of what constitutes a creative and knowledgeable research environment within artistic practices. In our university, many professors have for decades had a strong artistic activity in an international context, several have also deepened research practice and artistic activity further through, among other things, multi-year doctoral studies. Seven of SKH's research projects have in recent years been granted support by the Swedish Research Council.
The entire Professor’s collegium is active with its own research and in the education of our doctoral students, where the education is led by a professor responsible for the research education subject who has a PhD in artistic research. The Professors are also responsible for competence development in research methodology of for the entire Teachers' College, and also conducts courses and activities for the professional field. This is how we have created a research environment that develops both our university and the artistic field in general.
We are proud of the doctoral education given at SKH. We have a wide range of skills and experience which is the prerequisite for our university's success in conducting education at all levels.
We know that in order to teach and research art, extensive experience from one's own artistic practice is needed.
We stand, with the support of the Higher Education Ordinance, with the principle that there is no contradiction between knowledge obtained through artistic practice and knowledge obtained through an academic degree.
Anja Susa, Professor of Directing
Bengt Bok, Professor of Radio Production
Cecilia Roos, Professor of Artistic Practices
Chrysa Parkinson, Professor of Dance
Eli Bø, Professor of Production Design
Ellen J Røed, Professor of Film and Media
Erik Gandini, Professor of Documentary Film
Johan Scott, Professor of Artistic Performance
Johanna Garpe, Professor of Performing Arts
John Paul Zaccarini, Professor of Performing Arts
Jon Refsdal Moe, Professor of Dramaturgy
Kent Olofsson, Professor of Performing Arts
Klas Dykhoff, Professor of Film Sound
Lena Hammergren, Professor of Dance Theory
Martin Sonderkamp, Professor of Choreography
Rebecca Hilton, Professor of Choreography
Tone Pernille Østern, Guest Professor in Contemporary Dance Education
Wilhelm Carlsson, Professor of Music Dramatic Performance
Ylva Gustavson, Professor of Film and Media, directing
Link to the article in DN 3 March (In Swedish, may require an account)
Link to the article in Aftonbladet 13 March (In Swedish)