Research at Arcada: Looking Ahead and Aiming High
During 2018 a renewed emphasis was placed on research and its visibility. This was highlighted by Arcada appointing its first vice-rector Henrika Franck, responsible for RDI, in August.
The increased emphasis on research and its visibility is off to a good start, with many exciting projects to develop further.
"Compared to other universities of applied sciences, the research here at Arcada is already at a very high level academically. 37 of the 115 employed within education and research have a doctorate", says Henrika Franck.
Why research at Arcada? Through its research Arcada wants to contribute to a sustainable society – that is the primary reason. Furthermore the research also strengthens our education and finances through external research funding.
"What we do here at Arcada should benefit as many as possible in our society. We want to be able to offer education relevant to today’s challenges. It’s one of the things we really emphasize.", Franck explains.
Interdisciplinary Projects and Future Trends
In the autumn of 2018 a research council, made up of representatives from the departments, was appointed. The council is tasked with considering common research projects and looking beyond department boundaries.
A large scale cross-disciplinary project involving all departments was launched 2018. The common denominator is information criticism, and the project examines the challenge of disinformation from several perspectives.
"In the field of health care, disinformation can actually be dangerous. Within the media world we look at how young people can become or can be encouraged to become more critical of the media. From the viewpoint of business economics, we look at how companies can be more ethical in the information they provide. And the technical sector has to look at AI and issues of responsibility", Henrika Franck explains.
Three important future trends form the basis for research at Arcada. Work and livelihood – what will work look like 20-30 years from now? How is democracy being changed e.g. by technical advances? How can circular economy models be developed for the plastics industry.
"The most important thing for research at Arcada is to think far ahead – and even to think big. How can we influence the society of 2040? What is our responsibility when conducting research into AI? What will the nursing profession look like in 2040 and how can we prepare today’s students for the future? We are constantly trying to look ahead – and to aim high", says Franck.
The autumn of 2018 was the starting point for a collected effort to give greater visibility to publications and other results of the research at Arcada. This concerned both the academic world and society as a whole
"We encourage our researchers to write about their work, for example in blogs and letters to the press, to be active in public debates. A school like ours has the advantage of being able to achieve fast results", Franck explains.
Coordination and Support
The fact that Arcada now has a vice-rector specifically for RDI has given research activities more visibility, coordination and support. The focus is very much on helping researchers find suitable funding sources for their research projects. What is called for now is finding more extensive sources for funding as well as creating networks both in Finland and the rest of Europe in order to access larger research projects via the EU, for example.
In addition, Arcada continues to support and encourage its teaching staff in completing a doctorate as well as keeping the threshold low for working with research.
"We try to encourage our staff to take their doctorates. As this isn’t possible at Arcada, we cooperate with other higher education institutions offering doctoral studies. We help with funding and with finding the right university."
Meetings for researchers every third week are a revived routine. To strengthen research traditions, plans are in the making for creating research teams where senior researchers can read the texts of younger colleagues.
"Research doesn’t have to be something abstract that you do all alone, it can also be applied research conducted in groups. This creates an atmosphere that encourages innovations", Franck concludes.
At the end of the year an internal research convention was planned as a start to the new year. It was conceived as the launch for even more cross-disciplinary projects as well as giving the teachers and staff from the different departments an opportunity to get together in a new forum.