AUSTIN, Texas—Several Swedish officials, including the Swedish ambassador to the United States, will participate in an international conference at The University of Texas at Austin March 24-25 heralding the contribution of Swedish inventors to the world of science and technology.
Rolf Ekéus, Swedish ambassador to the United States and Lyndon Olson, United States ambassador to Sweden, are both scheduled to speak. Her Royal Highness Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden, will be present as a distinguished guest. Olle Västberg, Swedish counsel general in New York, also will attend.
The “Swedish Inventions: An International Symposium on Swedish Inventions and Swedish Inventors” conference will be held in the Knopf Room of the Flawn Academic Center on the UT campus. The program will begin each day at 9 a.m.
The symposium is the premiere event launched under the banner of UT’s Swedish Studies Excellence Endowment. It is being coordinated by Professors Lars Gustafsson and John Weinstock of the Germanic studies department. Gustafsson, an internationally acclaimed poet-philosopher, is a fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineers. He is currently developing an interdisciplinary graduate seminar on Swedish inventions.
The program will spotlight the nature and conditions of technological creativity as it has existed in Sweden through the years. In the realm of pure science, 18th-century Swedes gave us the Chemical Atomic Table (Berzelius), centigrade thermometer (Celsius) and a system of biological classification (Linnaeus), according to Gustafsson.
“On the practical level, Swedish inventiveness has historically responded to the demands of the land’s agrarian economy, cold climate and vast spaces: hence such developments as the milk/cream separator, locomotive and steamship technology, stoves and boilers,” said Gustafsson. “Its presence has been felt as well in the industrial sphere through contributions ranging from the humble monkey wrench to the blow-torch to dynamite. Today, as the nation’s economy urbanizes, Swedish corporations stand poised to compete worldwide in telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, food packaging and the automotive field.”
The event is being co-sponsored by The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation Excellence Endowment and TetraLaval Corporation in cooperation with the Scandinavian program in the Germanic studies department of the College of Liberal Arts.
The Swedish Studies Steering Committee was founded in 1996 by Carrin Patman of Austin, and is now within 80% of its goal to establish a $1 million permanent endowment at UT. “The fundamental idea is to keep the beautiful garden of Swedish culture, Swedish work and Swedish intelligence green,” said Gustafsson.
“I really hope we can include–and build on–the Swedish program within the context of a much broader-based push on international studies,” said Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, UT Austin executive vice president and provost. “We have a very broad base of faculty here. . .so that we can craft the Swedish studies program in a way that is very interdisciplinary. . .one that crosses not only the range of disciplines within the College of Liberal Arts, but across the fine arts, engineering, the natural sciences, the business school, and so on. We are well on our way to doing that, and that’s really what we’re all about in terms of the Swedish Endowment.”
For details, visit http://www.utexas.edu/depts/german/symp.html or call (512) 471¬4123.