Norway should expand the Centre for Advanced Study concept and continue to invest in Centres of Excellence to support cutting-edge research, Professor Vigdis Broch-Due, scientific director of CAS Oslo, argues in comments submitted to the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research.
The Centre for Advanced Study (CAS Oslo) last week responded to the ministry’s call for consultative input on the proposed ‘Long-term plan for research and higher education 2015-2024’ (‘Langtidsplan for forskning og høyere utdanning 2015-2024’).
Broch-Due’s comments focus on one of the plan’s three overarching questions: how the Norwegian government over the next several years can promote the development of scholarly communities of excellence.
‘A greater investment in the CAS model would complement other measures to further cutting-edge research,’ Broch-Due writes. ‘The CAS model is recognised, flexible, and cost-effective, and it would be a welcome addition to the focus on large Centres of Excellence that serve as the powerhouses of Norwegian research policy.’
International evaluations of the Norwegian research landscape have found a need for more collaboration and interdisciplinary work, as well as a persistent gender gap.
In the comments, Broch-Due positions CAS Oslo’s group-based model as a potential remedy. Each year, CAS Oslo hosts three research groups of scholars drawn from the whole spectrum of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. The scholars work on projects they have pitched themselves.
‘CAS Oslo occupies a unique space in the Norwegian research landscape,’ Broch-Due writes. ‘We are the only national arena that fosters inter- and multidisciplinary research of a high international standard.’
Like other research institutes, CAS Oslo has seen the gender gap in academe up close. The situation is improving, however, as CAS Oslo is seeing an increase in the number of female research group members, Broch-Due writes. Additionally, with this year’s launch of YoungCAS, an intensive, international research experience, CAS Oslo is providing a new professional development opportunity for young scholars, including women.
‘We know from experience and research that you need predictability, recognition, and support to retain top research talent,’ Broch-Due writes. ‘The YoungCAS concept gives talented young scholars the ability to jump start their scholarly careers by developing their own ideas and organising their own groups, reducing the time it takes for them to apply for grant funding either from the Research Council of Norway or the EU.’
CAS Oslo was one of 120 organizations that submitted comments to the ministry. The revised plan is expected to cover the time period 2019-28.
Read Broch-Due’s full comments (in Norwegian) to the Ministry of Education and Research here.
Carl Fredrik Schou Straumsheim