Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back to the Vikings in Sweden

I am so looking forward to being back in Sweden later this week as part of my sabbatical!

Perhaps you saw the recent special report, The Next Supermodel, on the Nordic countries in The Economist, February 2-8, 2013 issue. I enjoyed reading the follow-up Letters to the Editor on this report, as well, especially the one  from Jens Baunsgaard from Bornholm, Denmark  that said: SIR – Thanks for a very interesting special report about the Nordic countries. However, I must correct you concerning your cover photo: the Vikings never had horns on their helmets. It was Carl Doepler, working for Richard Wagner, who invented horned helmets for the Nibelungen Ring. The myth has been common since then.

As an academic, with associations in this region for over a decade, especially Sweden, I marvel at the visionary perspectives of this region, especially its emphasis on and appreciation of environmental sustainability, which I thought was not noted sufficiently in the special report. As a Visiting Professor at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, thanks to an ad in The Economist that I responded to, I continue during my stays there to be transfixed by the trams, trains, busses, much utilized, and the pedestrian walkways under foliage and next to bicycle lanes, and the continuous improvements to the infrastructure, even with seasonal flower plantings. The citizens love the outdoors, their parks and their mobility, so that even the restaurants and cafes provide blankets for customers who wish to dine al fresco.

Every time that I return back to the US I say "Why can't the US be more like Sweden" and the special report provided concrete evidence on how public-private partnerships that support innovations can excel and how people can work and live truly well.