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Published: 2024-02-16 Updated: 2024-02-20, 13:52

Umeå School of Architecture gets new doctoral programme

NEWS Umeå School of Architecture at Umeå University will regain the right to educate future researchers. A clear focus of the doctoral programme will be sustainable development and climate adaptation. Umeå School of Architecture is already in the starting blocks to recruit doctoral students for various research projects.

“We are starting the PhD programme with four positions, which feels good” says Cornelia Redeker, Head of Department at Umeå School of Architecture. “However, the demand from colleagues within the architecture school who until now did not have the possibility to do apply for a PhD position by far exceeds that number. That is a challenge and one way of meeting that is to create formats that enable more productive links between research and education. We are also exploring the possibilities of shared PhD positions through the Industrial Doctoral School and the gender studies PhD programme.”

Architecture has previously been a doctoral education subject at Umeå University. The first doctoral students were admitted in 2013. However, when the Swedish Higher Education Authority reviewed the doctoral programme in 2018, it was considered to lack quality, clarity and strategy and as a consequence of the criticism it was discontinued.

Strategic recruitment

Since then, significant changes have taken place at Umeå School of Architecture in terms of management structure, research and supervision expertise. In recent years, a number of research-qualified teachers have been strategically recruited. This has laid the foundation for a stable research environment that today includes three professors and seven associate professors who conduct research in areas ranging from urban planning and sustainable construction to digital innovation.

"The development of Umeå School of Architecture in recent years has been fantastic and the faculty is very proud that we can now resume the doctoral programme in architecture" says Mikael Elofsson, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology.

The new management has therefore applied for Umeå School of Architecture to regain the right to educate doctoral students, which the Faculty Board supported and Umeå University's Vice-Chancellor approved in a decision on 9 February this year.

How does it feel to get started with doctoral education at UMA again?

“Wonderful, we are very excited to expand our research environment to include a PhD programme” says Cornelia Redeker. The “again” is not really of relevance as none of us were involved in the previous PhD School.”

Architecture is per se a practice-based profession and education, she explains further. Embedding architectural design practices within a scientific framework holds enormous potential to meet the challenges the built environment at large is facing today.

We are very excited to expand our research environment to include a PhD programme

Focus on northern Sweden

What gap in doctoral education in Architecture in Sweden will the new education fill?

“It is not so much about filling a gap, but of strengthening our own research environment” says Cornelia Redeker. “The upcoming calls will focus on quite a diverse range of topics that are set: from climate adaptation of the built environment for the specific context of Northern Sweden, to infrastructures of care and models of inclusion, and the development of building materials with the support of digital tools. It will even include one open call where we are looking forward to receiving proposals.”

Tell us more about the focus on sustainable development and climate adaptation?

“The UN sustainable development goals, and of course at the core SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, are the basis for all our research areas at UMA with different focal areas such as social sustainability as a basis for all other development with a long tradition at UMA. The speed at which climate change is impacting us both globally and regionally is creating an urgency where the built environment has an enormous capacity to contribute to change. Our doctoral students will address different models of change technically, socio-ecologically and of course from a socio-cultural perspective. All of our research areas, take a multiscalar perspective starting from the building scale. This can imply expanding to the neighbourhood, the city and the region as well as zooming back in on the performance of building materials.”

Umeå School of Architecture will also collaborate with Umeå Institute of Design and the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics, as well as with Arts Campus and UmArts. Doctoral students will also engage in partner networks in academia, but also the private and public sectors.

“Academically, we are part of ResArc, the PhD network of the Swedish architecture schools together with SLU Landscape, but are also exploring possibilities of exchange with the Nordic Baltic Architecture Academy, and others in our extensive international network. Regionally we are a partner in the New European Bauhaus Nordic hub which is currently in the making” says Cornelia Redeker.

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