Culture, creativity and science at Karolinska Institutet

Earlier this week, Karolinska Institutets first Culture and Creativity Day was arranged at Solna campus. You can see photos from the event on KI’s webpage. I also wrote a post on this ten days ago. Just let me add some of my personal thoughts on the interconnection between culture, creativity and science.

Culture can mean many different things to different people. It is used to describe the common values we share within an organization, like our university. It also describes a distinguishing feature of being human.

Creating together

To me, culture means creating together, and enjoying what others have created. It is my firm belief that art and culture give us new ways of thinking about life, inspire our creativity and give us new language to express it.

A day that encourages us to explore the link between  culture, creativity and science gives us the opportunity to discuss what we  stand for as a university.  What values and principles do we hold dear? What is our common vision for the future?

Invisible glue

A strong cultural foundation is important for our university, it is important for science, and it is important for creative thinking.  Culture is the invisible glue that binds us together.

History is rife with examples of how science has inspired art and of how art has inspired science. In my opening remarks I referred to the recent paper of Christophe Schinckus (From Cubist Simultaneity to Quantum Complementarity) and his discussion on how Niels Bohr might have been inspired by the cubist painter Jean Metzinger when he formulated the complementarity principle. The cubists allowed different perspectives of an object to hit the eye simultaneously while in Bohr’s world, an electron could be both wave and particle at the same time. A striking parallel. A case of art and science being joined in entirely new ways of thinking.

What is a university?

Deeply embedded in the idea of a university is the term “wholeness”. A university thrives on a richness of perspectives. As a medical university we should strive to appreciate the “wholeness” of the patient, to see his or her disease in context of the full human being. Art and culture are important aspects of being humans. And art and culture are important aspects of being the community that any university must aspire to be.

Excellent opportunity

KI:s Culture and Creativity Day is an excellent opportunity to showcase creative individuals in our own community and  to appreciate new sides and hidden talents of those we may see every day.

If I am to decide I would say that we should go for a new culture and creativity day already next year. Thanks to the Culture Council, and thanks to all our employees and students that contributed so successfully to this event.


Dance of Life by Edvard Munch. Nasjonalmuseet, Oslo



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