Academic chair: Lars Johannsen

Ass. professor Lars Johannsen, Dept. of Political Sciences: Academic chair for Democracy Knowledge Hub (see PURE-profile)

Why did you decide to get involved in Circle U.?

In my view, Circle U. offers some exciting opportunities to promote international collaboration and develop strong research networks across national borders. At the same time, I’m interested in the connection between research activities and teaching, in particular involving students in current research. Circle U. is a fruitful platform for this.

As a political scientist, I’m generally preoccupied with the challenges of democracy and the possibility of creating sustainable democracies. Through my engagement in Circle U., I believe that I can help generate new knowledge about political conditions in Europe and worldwide – and create good conditions for future research activities in this field.

What are the overall objectives of your project?

  • To develop AU’s Circle U. Knowledge Hub and the associated research network into democracy, democratisation and the development and consolidation of democracy
  • To develop the educational project Open School of Public Governance and to inspire students to get involved in interdisciplinary education and research. 

Are there any particular academic strengths among the Circle U. partners that make the project particularly interesting and promising? 

I’m very much looking forward to working with the other Circle U. chairs, including exchanging ideas and experiences and communicating knowledge to the public and planning joint seminars. 

I consider it a particular strength in these partners that they reflect a breadth of fields and methods and represent different research topics, by virtue of the specific challenges each country is facing. I’m also pleased that the network includes non-EU countries.

In which areas will it be possible for your AU colleagues to get involved in the project?

AU employees will be able to participate in interdisciplinary research networks as well as the new Circle U. Knowledge Hub about democratic challenges, particularly those who work on corruption, sustainable democracy, democratisation and inequality. Perhaps there will also be some money for researcher exchanges.

It will also be possible to contribute to the Open School of Public Governance and to the range of seminars offered by Circle U.’s joint summer schools (online or through lecturer exchanges) and by the Aarhus BSS graduate school. 

Last but not least, we will focus on establishing a new network for applications to the EU’s Horizon programme. 

What opportunities will AU students have to get involved in the project?

Students will be able to participate in classes at the Open School of Public Governance and the Circle U. summer school, which will both offer online classes and utilise existing and future exchange agreements. 

We also aim to give students a chance to get involved in ongoing research projects. If we can develop a model whereby smaller groups of students from the participating universities and under the guidance of a supervisor can carry out their own research projects, Circle U. will achieve a new standard for student involvement in research and talent development.

Have you though at about how you will get researchers and students involved in Circle U. activities?

It’s still early days, and I haven’t met the other chairs in my area yet. But my initial thoughts centre on the establishment of a research network on corruption. What’s more, at the Department of Political Science we also have a model that might serve as as template for student-driven research.