Unique collaboration results in the first Swedish professorship in non-fiction

Thanks to a unique collaboration between Linnaeus University, the Natur & Kultur Foundation, the Swedish Association of Educational Writers, and the Swedish Writers’ Union it is now clear that the first Swedish professorship in non-fiction will become reality.

Non-fiction – fact-based literature like, for instance, reports, history, biographies, debate books, popular science, travelogues, and study resources – plays a critical role in the public debate, not least in a time of infodemic and intentional disinformation. Despite this, there is no research with focus on non-fiction in Sweden, as opposed to other Nordic countries.

Already a decade ago, the Swedish Writers’ Union came to the insight that a non-fiction professorship would be very valuable. When Linnaeus University received the question about a year ago, the university immediately saw the possibility with a professorship that suited the university’s profiling well and could contribute to setting knowledge in motion. The Natur & Kultur Foundation and the Swedish Association of Educational Writers were also interested and we can now, thanks to these strong actors, present a joint investment to establish Sweden’s first professorship in non-fiction.

“Knowledge is the best basis on which to build arguments and society. But knowledge doesn’t speak for itself. The language that carries knowledge forward needs attention in order to function with the communicative force that is required, in order for it to create meaning and result in a good ‘becoming human’, knowledge-based action, and a common basis on which to build society. It’s about time that this receives the research-based focus that creates the basis for development of knowledge about the conditions and possibilities of non-fiction”, says Linnaeus university’s vice-chancellor Peter Aronsson.

To describe objective facts in a captivating way is an art form. This is true for all non-fiction, not least study resources. Study resources authors have an important role to play as educators of future generations. When written in the right way, these books can give children and young adults an overview of the complex reality they live in and give them a knowledge basis and an interest in society on which they can continue to build throughout their lives.

“Good access to facts that can be trusted has never been more important for the democratic society. In a world where information constantly takes on new forms it is critical that non-fiction is developed so that it can reach through the noise. For almost a hundred years now, Natur & Kultur has worked to provide new arenas for words. It is both natural and with great pride that we, together with the Swedish Writers’ Union and the Swedish Association of Educational Writers, are part of Sweden’s first professorship in non-fiction”, says Per Almgren, CEO at Natur & Kultur.

The agreement, which was recently signed by the parties, is worth a total of SEK 7.5 million. The main financier Natur & Kultur will provide SEK 1 million per year for five years, while the Swedish Association of Educational Writers and the Swedish Writers’ Union will contribute with SEK 250,000 each per year during the same period of time.

The professorship will be placed at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Linnaeus University and have the title Natur and Kultur’s professorship in non-fiction. The participating parties hope that the professorship will be open for applications during autumn 2021, and the objective is to have a professor in place before the start of the autumn semester 2022.

Peter Aronsson
, vice-chancellor Linnaeus University, +4672-573 68 00, peter.aronsson@lnu.se
Grethe Rottböll, chair Swedish Writers’ Union, +4670-777 58 59, grethe.rottboll@forfattarforbundet.se
Per Kornhall, chair Swedish Association of Educational Writers, +4670-499 88 80, per.kornhall@laromedelsforfattarna.se
Per Almgren, CEO Natur & Kultur, +4670-650 92 33, per.almgren@nok.se