lördag 18 januari 2020

Writing camp (workshop)

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MID writing camp at Rönneberga conference center

Nowadays our department starts each term with a "writing camp" that is either two or three days long. This past week we went to Rönneberga conference center at Lidingö (near Stockholm) for two days of socialising, eating well and of writing.

This is always an appreciated activity and the last time I wrote about a writing camp was two years ago when our department organised its first writing camp at another conference center (also on Lidingö). Writing camp was a new thing back then but we have since organised writing camps at the start of every term. I have not written about them on the blog, despite the fact that I myself was responsible for organising the previous writing camp half a year ago (at Wiks slott outside Uppsala).

The just-held writing camp was a organised by the TEL (technology-enhanced learning) group at the department, so some of the activities we did together were related to things they work with. Otherwise this writing camp was freer in its organisation that previous camps. Instead of formally pairing up people who belong to different groups and who don't usually work together, people and research groups were allowed to self-organise this time around. That meant that the sustainability research group booked a room that was our "base" and where we organised our work efforts in 40-minute long "shifts" (writing sessions) that were broken up by meals and fika sessions.

One activity at the writing camp was the department's Christmas gift for all its employees, a close encounter with horses at the nearby Elfvik gård. Led by very experienced horse trainers and interacting with very well trained horses, we got to experience a close-up encounter with horses and learned some about how horses think and how they "read" humans (body language).

Another significant event for me and the rest of the sustainability team was the we got to meet our new PhD student, Aksel Biørn-Hansen, for the first time. This is the very concrete outcome of the job ad I posted on the blog three months ago. The ad resulted in almost 50 applications but many were to be regarded as "spam" (clearly not formally qualified for the job and I don't understand why you then even bother to apply). The remainder was winnowed down to five candidates who were interviewed and this later resulted in us offering a position as a PhD student to Aksel. He accepted our offer and he will primarily work in the FLIGHT project that I lead (which runs from mid-2019 to mid-2022). I will be his thesis advisor.

I have by now interacted with Aksel over Skype (the job interview) and later by phone, mail and text messages, but this was the first time we met in person and Aksel also got to meet the rest of the sustainability research group and many of his future colleagues at our department. Aksel will start to work at KTH in February but will not start to work full-time until May. He currently lives with his family in Gothenburg and needs to relocate to Stockholm during the spring.

Aksel originally comes from Norway but has lived in Sweden for years and years; he has a bachelor's degree in cognitive science from Gothenburg University and a master's degree in interaction design from Chalmers University of Technology. Aksel has worked at Svalna as user experience designer (concept development, prototyping, conducting user tests) and wrote his master's thesis about the Svalna carbon calculator: "Evaluation of a carbon calculator: Challenges and opportunities with calculating emissions from consumption behaviour". Aksel is also very special in that he, as an undergraduate student, worked together with researcher Maria Håkansson and then wrote a paper with her, "Building Momentum: Scaling up Change in Community Organizations", that was accepted to the very selective and prestigious 2018 CHI conference. It's a feat for a PhD student to have a paper accepted to CHI and it's even more of a feat for an undergraduate student to be the first author of such a paper.

We all welcome Aksel to our department, to the sustainability research group and to our research project!
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