In 2006, Vetenskapsrådet [the Swedish Research Council] granted fundingfor the development of three Swedish Centres of Gender Excellence;the recipients were Uppsala University, Umeå University and the interuniversityInstitute for Thematic Gender Studies between the Universitiesof Linköping and Örebro. As a result, with the Institute of ThematicGender Studies as its base, GEXcel: Gendering Excellence – Centre ofGender Excellence was launched in 2007. GEXcel is a five-year collegium-like excellence centre for Advanced Gender Studies. Its principal hubis a Visiting Fellowship Programme, where international researchers areinvited to join any of twelve different research themes.
From the outset, a long-term aim of GEXcel has been to develop a permanent Swedish-based collegium for advanced gender studies that will be launched after GEXcel’s five-year term. Clearly, existing international excellence centres and institutes for advanced study, such as Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, Stanford’s Michelle Clayman Institute, Berlin’s Wissenschaftskolleg and Uppsala’s Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study can provide important clues about how to organise a permanent advanced gender studies collegium. Nevertheless, it will not suffice to simply adopt an existing organisational model; not only does a Swedishbased gender studies collegium have to be developed to fit its Nordic and European context, but it is essential that it is organised in ways that suit the special requirements of gender studies, and so that it retains the crucial insights of feminist scholarship.
In order to pave the way for the opportunity to realise the long-term goal of developing a permanent, Swedish-based gender studies collegium, GEXcel has implemented a cross-cutting research theme dedicated to matters of academic organisation: Organizing a European Excellence Centre – Exploring Models. The ultimate aim of this theme is to provide a forum to explore what academic excellence may mean from a feminist point of view, and what would be required of an organisational structure to support and stimulate excellent gender studies research. The following Work in Progress Report contains initial steps towards a feminist analysis of models of and for excellence: here, a largely descriptive overview of available ways of organising excellence is provided, and significant organisational differences and similarities are identified and assessed.
Björn Pernrud’s paper A Review of Distinguished Research Clusters is based on an overview of collegium-like research institutions nternationally, concentrating especially on gender studies centres and institutes, and providing brief descriptions of about 60 centres. The paper also considers the academic, political and economic motives underlying efforts to organise research into large-scale centres. Finally, three centres are examined more closely in order to provide a more detailed picture ofdifferent models for organising large research milieus.
While Pernrud’s paper concentrates on the internal organisation and structure of research centres and institutes, Sanne Bor explores how collaborative relations can be established between research institutions. In a paper entitled Some Reflections on Choices in Developing Collaborative Networks, Bor identifies and analyses five especially important points where significant choices have to be made as collaborative relations are established. Accordingly, Bor puts forward a number of questions that anyone seeking to initiate a network has to take into consideration, and she discusses how different answers to these questions lead to different forms of networks.
Together, Pernrud’s paper provides a basis for beginning to compare and analyse ways of organising a permanent collegium for advanced gender studies in Sweden, and Bor’s paper contains insights into the conditions and possibilities for such a successor to GEXcel to enter into productive relations with other gender studies centres around the world. This volume is published in the hope that it will contribute to the further institutional development of gender studies in Sweden and beyond.
A very warm thank you to Elizabeth Sourbut, who made the linguistic and stylistic revisions with much patience and a subtle sense for language.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. , 59 p.