Read Rector Karl Otto Ellefsen's speech from the opening here

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Read Rector Karl Otto Ellefsen's speech from the opening here

Tromsø Academy of Landscape and Territorial StudiesInauguration 15.8.2013Speech by Rector at AHO Karl Otto Ellefsen1


Rektor,Faculty,Guests and not the least the first students at the Tromsø Academy of Landscapeand Territorial studies.UiT and AHO are in the process of establishing an Academy for LandscapeStudies. This will be a full landscape program at a high international level –Bachelor, Master, Ph.D school and Research programs. The whole idea beingbased on use of the established capacities of the University in Tromsø and thedesign capacities and the competence within Landscape urbanism at the OsloSchool of Architecture and Design. Basically this is a very pragmatic idea. Twouniversities (one full university and one specialized university) are cooperatingby adding complementary capacities. In my opinion definitely a smart idea.The visions, however, for this pragmatic and supposedly efficient and resourcesavingcooperation are nearly out of the world ambitious.One of our intentional documents of the Academy says:“The Academy will dedicate its teaching and research to this large territory. Itwill speculate in its changing landscapes and cultures. It will discover andexplore a landscape that the tradition of landscape architecture has had noknowledge of, a landscape formed by indigenous practices and representingsome of the most vulnerable cultural landscapes in the world. The Academy willdevelop new approaches for landscape research and design on the scale ofterritorial fields as well as on the scale of small biotopes. Research and teachingat the academy will be forming a barometer for landscape development globallyby operating in those landscapes that are most vulnerable to change. TheAcademy will therefore develop new methods and teaching strategies for achanging global situation.”No less.We are talking about a huge challenge taken on by the new Academy.2


Tromsø is heading to be the political and academic capital of the New North. Andthese days the North somehow is being described in one term only: as rich. It isemerging as one vast marine and terrestrial treasure with reservoirs of oil andgas at unimaginable scales, rare minerals to be used in advanced technologies,and gold deposits. All there to be exploited. The coming landscapes of the Northare first and foremost linked to the economical anticipation and nationalstrategies for exploitation.The role of universities is of course to supply needed knowledge for the comingtransformation. But also to initiate rational discussions on alternativedevelopments, and to nearly frenetically hold on to a critical academic position.The results of the transformation will be proved in statistics for earnings,interests and tax, but will also be read as physical imprints on northern citiesand landscapes. These physical and even tactile situations also need to behandled in a both professional and critical manner. A huge challenge in northernterritories is the expanse and vulnerability of the areas that one encounters.They are however not only critically exposed in terms of biological diversity, geohazards, etc. They are exposed also in terms of social development, urbansustainability, and not the least aesthetically. One should also bear in mind thatthe rapidly changing situation in the High North and the Arctic is creatinglandscape situations that to a very little degree have been part of the both theEuropean landscape tradition and the academic field urbanism.Many of you will know different initiatives to develop architectural education inthe north. The first initiative I was part of was back in the 1980s and wasinitiated by the local branch of The Norwegian Architectural Association – Nord-Norges arkitektforening. This time the University of Tromsø initiated the processtogether with representatives of local industries. The discussion landed withgiving landscape architecture priority at least from the start. Or maybe moreprecisely we are trying to develop a revised discipline of landscape architecture,merging the academic and artistic fields of landscape, of urbanism and3


architecture. And I consider this to be as a very wise decision. The discipline ofLandscape Architecture, in this modernised version, represent knowledge andskills that in my opinion very much are lacking in the northern transformationprocess, and therefore are needed.Establishing the Landscape academy we are of course asked what the newstudies and this merging new landscape discipline has to offer.No doubt, the knowledge of the north is immense and the areas are at themoment subject to intense scientific investigations, focusing on the resources,but also heavily on ecological systems and the effect of climatic change. And theterritory is more than ever subject to investigations from the social sciences andthe humanities.The asset or strength (I do not quite know how to express this in English) of theLandscape discipline is basically (1) the territorial and physical approach andthe focus on reading and interfering in society as physical landscape and physicalstructures. (2) A second characteristics is that Landscape urbanism, as the fieldis called at the Oslo School of Architecture and design, is based on amultidisciplinary approach and on comprehensive mapping. (3) And a thirdcharacteristics is that Landscape urbanism belongs to what we call the makingdisciplines, meaning that the scientific and artistic investigation only hasmeaning as a part of a process leading to a some kind of synthesis, some kind ofproject or plan or strategy. We are primarily doers, and only sometimesresearchers.To us it seems like this approach in the current situation in the North is needed.Looking at the landscape we find:- Postindustrial challenges in landscapes and settlements.- The potential for huge infrastructural projects.- More traditional urban growth4


- Industrial development and base-structures of a more temporarycharacter.- And even landscapes that are emerging as a result of retreating ice andallowing cultivation and resource extractions at scales not imaginableonly a few decades ago.The discipline I am talking about can in fact somehow interfere bothinterestingly and operational with these kinds of problems.Today we are starting what we call an international “pilot” master class as a firststep.På vegen mot noe større er det mange som skal takkes. La meg i hvert fall nevnefem av dem.Tidligere rektor ved UiT Jarle Aarbakke som med sin ubeskrivelige omsorg for detnordlige og sin entusiasme for Universitetet i Tromsø, har fungert som garantist.Ulf Christensen tidligere rektor ved Høgskolen i Tromsø som har vært utreder ogmellommann.Kjell Mange Mæland dekan for fakultetet som tar I mot oss I Tromsø.Knut Erik Dahl, professor ved AHO og en sentral skikkelse I Tromsø gjennommange tiår, som nok har et betydelig ideologisk og faglig fadderskap for det vidriver med.Og Janike Kampevold Larsen, landskapsfrelst litteraturviter og førsteamanuensisved AHO som har drevet prosjektet gjennom flere år fra vår side.Nå tar på mange måter et nytt team over både i Tromsø og på AHO og haransvaret for å bære dette videre.Developing these studies is a rare opportunity and an extremely entertainingand challenging task. For the students, for the teachers and for our institutions.A warm welcome to our new students.UiT and AHO is an odd couple, but believe me, they will match!Tromsø 15.8.2013. Karl Otto Ellefsen. Rektor AHO5

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