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We must get into the limelight

No more silo mentality in an ivory tower. The university needs to share its knowledge with the community, according to Dean Allan Flyvbjerg, who is head of the interdisciplinary priority area of knowledge transfer.

2011.03.09 | Aarhus University

Dean Allan Flyvbjerg

“The university is brought into the world to provide a service for society at large. We are not brought into the world to rest on our laurels.”

These words were spoken by Dean of Health Allan Flyvbjerg. In addition to being part of the university’s Senior Management Group, he is responsible for knowledge transfer – one of the four interdisciplinary priority areas. He emphasises that the university must carry out research for the benefit of society, develop talent for the benefit of society, and educate students for the benefit of society. It is altogether crucial that the university shares its knowledge with the community.

“You talk about corporate responsibility in many different contexts, and I’d like to transfer this to the university world. We need to have scientific social responsibility (SSR). We have an obligation to help society at large, and we’ll benefit society precisely by sharing our knowledge,” he says.

Widespread knowledge sharing

The challenge for exactly this priority area includes defining and clarifying what knowledge transfer actually is. Dean Flyvbjerg is aware that many staff members regard this as a somewhat diffuse concept.

“Some people think that knowledge transfer is just about either communicating research results or providing public sector consultancy, but knowledge sharing is much more than that. Knowledge sharing is also about patent contracts with the business sector, for example, and collaboration with municipalities, regions and companies – both nationally and internationally,” he says.

In Dean Flyvbjerg’s opinion, knowledge transfer has not previously been a top priority at the university. However, this will be radically changed as a result of the new structure with a strategic focus on the area.

“This isn’t just a fine line in a strategy plan about ‘we will now share knowledge’, because knowledge transfer has become a strategic priority area with a dean at the end of the table and four vice-deans sitting alongside. If we articulate increased focus on knowledge sharing and have a structure that supports it, then it’ll succeed,” he says.


According to the dean, what must succeed is that the university and the community merge together to an even greater extent than at present. Companies in Denmark and abroad must benefit from research. Municipalities and regions must make use of the university’s services – to name just some examples.

“Many people regard the university as an unapproachable stronghold. That must come to a stop. We must get into the limelight to come even closer to the community,” says Dean Flyvbjerg.

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