Today, on 4 March 2022, when we celebrate the annual academic ceremony, Lund University will raise the flag for Ukraine. It is a demonstration of support for Ukrainian higher education institutions, for colleagues, students and the country’s civilian population. The Russian invasion of Ukraine threatens international peace and security, and is a violation of international law and the European security order.
But we also raise the flag to show support for democracy and freedom, for the universal community of universities and for academic freedom.
Politics and free academia are like oil and water. Both are essential for human existence and development. In democratic countries, they are united in a compassionate striving to understand, explain and improve our society in different ways. Always in interaction, but at the appropriate distance.
Since the start of the new millennium, the development of democracy has slowed down and even gone into reverse. Today, only 14 per cent of the world’s population live in stable democracies. Those of us who do, and work in free academia, have a special responsibility. Free academia is the democratic society’s linchpin for the creation of new knowledge that improves our world and the human condition – and democratic society.
We also have a special responsibility to see how we can prepare places at the University for Ukrainian researchers and students in the short term and further on. We are reviewing regulations and agreements, and entering a dialogue at European and national levels in order to facilitate the necessary processes. In the same way, we are prepared to offer sanctuary to researchers from Ukraine and the rest of the world who, for political or other reasons, are under threat in their homelands. We also raise the flag for the Scholars at Risk network.
We raise the flag today for Ukraine and for democracy and freedom. We raise the flag for Lund University as a sanctuary for researchers and students from all over the world. We raise the flag for hope of a bright future.
/ Erik Renström - vice chancellor
The annual academic ceremony (in Swedish)