Professor Maja Horst will be the new dean of the Faculty of Arts

On 1 June, Maja Horst will become the new dean of the Faculty of Arts at Aarhus University. Horst comes from a position as professor and head of the Responsible Innovation and Design Division at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). She will spearhead the continued development of the faculty, which covers the university’s humanities, theology and education studies programmes.

[Translate to English:] Maja Horst tiltræder som dekan ved Arts pr. 1.6. 2023. Photo: Joachim Rode

Horst will bring a breadth of experience from a long career in the Danish university sector to the position. Since 2019, she has served as professor of responsible technology at DTU, where she has conducted research and teaching in technology and innovation from a cultural and human perspective. Prior to that, she served as head of the former Department of Media, Cognition and Communication at the University of Copenhagen, where she was also a professor of research communication. She began her academic career by studying sociology and communication at Roskilde University and has a PhD in the sociology of knowledge from Copenhagen Business School. Horst also has deep insight into Danish research and innovation policy, and is currently chair of the board of the Independent Research Fund Denmark.

A unanimous appointment committee selected 54-year-old Horst as new dean of the Faculty of Arts from an extremely qualified pool of applicants, said Rector Brian Bech Nielsen:

“The faculty’s disciplines and its framework conditions are constantly changing in response to societal developments and the demands imposed on it,” he said. “In this regard, the vitality and robustness of the faculty’s development of its research and teaching programmes is a major strength. We are convinced that Maja Horst, with her broad research background and her many years of leadership experience, has the right profile to lead the faculty’s development forward. She has an extremely exciting and unique range as a researcher, and has a multi-facetted perspective on how the humanities contribute to society. She has gained this not least thanks to her intense intellectual curiosity and a diverse range of positions and governance roles in academia – in which she has engaged herself deeply for many years.”

Horst will serve a six-year term, with the possibility of extension for up to three additional years.

She is very much looking forward to her new role at Aarhus University: over the years, she has become convinced that AU is a good match for her professional and academic visions and values. Horst said:

“I’m very attracted to and have great respect for the strong research and teaching programmes at Arts at Aarhus University. The position of dean is a fantastic challenge that I am excited to take on. The humanities are so crucial to our society, whether we’re speaking about our own local communities or the global scale. Society is changing rapidly at all levels, and this calls for the methods and insight the humanities, theology and education studies can provide. Our world is built on people and their relationships, and we are deeply dependent on the humanities to understand ourselves, each other and the society we are creating. I have followed Aarhus University’s development over the years, and I believe that I will be able to make a difference here, with my approach and perspective on opportunities for development. So I didn’t hesitate to apply when I saw the advertisement for the position.”

When she becomes dean of the Faculty of Arts, Horst will step down as chair of the Independent Research Fund Denmark. She will do so when a new chair has been found, which is expected to happen within the next few months.

With Horst’s appointment, Aarhus University will also be saying farewell to Johnny Laursen, who has served as dean of the Faculty of Arts for nine years, and whose contract expires on 1 June.

Laursen has served as dean in a period marked by major changes and external challenges, among them degree programme resizing, diverse reforms and constant political debate about the role of the humanities. Rector Bech Nielsen said:

“I have enormous respect for Johnny Laursen’s contribution as head of Arts. He has served as a guarantor of stable, thoughtful development in a time marked by everything but stability, and despite all this, he has delivered impressive results. Arts has made significant strides in research and teaching, and the faculty deservedly places high on international university ranking lists. I have set great store by my collaboration with Dean Johnny Laursen, as a highly respected member of the senior management team and not least on a personal level as well.”

A farewell reception will be held for Johnny Laursen, and the date will be announced shortly. He will return to a position as associate professor at the Department of History and Classical Studies at the School of Culture and Society starting on 1 June.




About the appointment process:

The advisory group was comprised of the following members:

  • Rector Brian Bech Nielsen, rector (chair)
  • Christine Wernberg Dalhoff, head of secretariat at the Danish School of Education (DPU)
  • Hanne Knudsen,associate professor, Education Studies
  • Søren Pold, associate professor, School of Communication and Culture 
  • Annette Skovsted Hansen, associate professor, School of Culture and Society
  • Bo Kristian Holm, professor MSO, School of Culture and Society
  • Zenia Børsen, dramaturgy and musicology student at the School of Communication and Culture


The appointment committee was comprised of the following members:

  • Rector Brian Bech Nielsen, rector (chair)
  • Berit Eika, pro-rector
  • Kristian Thorn, university director
  • Anne-Mette Hvas, dean, Faculty of Health
  • Niels Overgaard Lehmann, vice-dean, Faculty of Arts
  • Ole Jensen, head of Administrative Centre Arts
  • Anne Behnk Lindholm, deputy director, AU HR
  • Unni From, head of the School of Communication and Culture