New honorary doctors in the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences

3 November 2022

The faculties at Uppsala University have decided on the award of honorary doctorates for 2022. Among the new honorary doctors at faculties in the Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences are researchers in economic geography, family law and African history, as well as a science journalist who has dedicated many years explaining the state of scientific knowledge to the public without ever resorting to misleading simplifications.

Faculty of Theology

Hille Haker is professor of Catholic moral philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. Her research encompasses the foundations of ethics, moral identity, literary & narrative ethics, Christian ethics as critical social ethics, bioethics, and feminist ethics. Professor Haker has a particularly strong profile in feminist ethics, where her research into critical perspectives on vulnerability are of major scientific and political importance. As a researcher, Hille Haker is characterised by her critical attitude to moral conventions and traditions of various kinds. Her work unites philosophical methods with deep knowledge of Christian theology. She explicitly develops theological ethics in relation to present-day challenges. As both a researcher and teacher, Haker cherishes the ideal of research that seeks to unite scientific rigour with genuine personal commitment to the burning ethical problems of our age.

Joel Cabrita is associate professor of history and director of the Center for African Studies at Stanford University in California. Her research deals with people, churches and media in southern Africa. Born in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Cabrita has worked in South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. She has also visited Uppsala, where she worked on the archives of Professor Bengt Sundkler (1909–1995). Her latest book – a biography of a pioneering African feminist Regina Gelana Twala, a key figure in Swaziland’s struggle for independence – is largely based on this archival material. Cabrita foregrounds Regina Gelana Twala as a researcher in her own right and places her in her historical, religious and political context. In Cabrita’s hands, the anonymous informant in the Sundkler papers becomes a living human being pushing the boundaries set by her time and society. Cabrita’s other work also combines biography with major, often transnational, political and religious movements.

Faculty of Law

Alessandro Simoni is full professor in comparative law at the University of Florence and one of the leading lights in the field of comparative law in Europe in terms of both the depth and breadth of his research. His research has made a significant impression in related legal disciplines, including civil law, procedural law and administrative law. His specialisation of comparing legal cultures and their expressions has taken him to remote legal traditions and language areas, albeit with one foot firmly planted in European law. For many decades, he has collaborated closely with representatives of diverse legal disciplines within the Faculty of Law in Uppsala on research projects, as well as on teaching and teacher exchanges. In practice, he has long been an informal member of the faculty and now the time has come formally assimilate him.

Tone Sverdrup is professor emerita and active researcher at the Department of Private Law, Faculty of Law, at the University of Oslo. She is honoured for her significant efforts to develop Nordic family law and the Nordic research environment in the subject area. Through her extensive authorship, perceptive analysis of family law and property law issues and unique ability to form fruitful collaborations, she has contributed to new and valuable knowledge in a field where reality constantly poses fresh challenges to legal regulation.

Faculty of Arts

Ulrika Björkstén is a science journalist working for state broadcaster Sveriges Radio, where she spent a decade as editor of Vetenskapsradion. Björkstén, who has a PhD in physical chemistry, has lectured at several higher education institutions. As a journalist, she has provided high-quality science reporting across a broad spectrum of media: film, broadcast, the daily press, museums and popular science books. During the pandemic, Björkstén was a regular contributor to the media’s coverage of an uncertain state of knowledge, the ongoing vaccination campaign and often confusing statistics. Her work as a science journalist is characterised by a rare combination of a critical scientific approach and a pedagogical ability to balance, summarise and explain scientific knowledge without resorting to misleading simplifications. Björkstén has also been a long-standing and much-appreciated point of contact and collaborator for several research environments within Uppsala University.

Ragnar Audunson, formerly of Oslo Metropolitan University, is professor emeritus in library and information science. After training as a political scientist, he spent a large part of his career conducting research in the field of library and information science. Indeed, as a teacher he has played a key role in developing the subject. While Audunson is an internationally renowned, oft-cited researcher whose work spans a broad area, his primary focus has been on the societal role of public libraries. He retired from his post at OsloMet in 2021 but remains a highly active researcher.

Faculty of Languages

The Faculty of Languages has chosen not to award any honorary doctorates in 2022.

Faculty of Social Sciences

Peter Maskell is a professor at Copenhagen Business School. He is a leading researcher in the field of economic geography, where he studies competitiveness, knowledge creation and the organisation of economic activities in industrial systems and how this impacts the geographic localisation of businesses and regional economic development. He has a wealth of experience of collaborating with private- and public-sector stakeholders in areas such as infrastructure, physical planning and urban renewal. As a member of several government commissions of inquiry, he has served as an advisor to policymakers in central government and international bodies. Maskell has had strong connections to Uppsala University for over four decades and is a foreign member of the Royal Society of Sciences at Uppsala.

Ralph Anthony Catalano is professor emeritus in public health at the University of California, Berkeley, where he still works. His internationally preeminent research is characterised by an ecological view of societal change and how these changes are reflected in society in forms such as depression, suicide, drug use and violent crime. He has also studied the impact of economic changes such as mass redundancies and high unemployment on public health. Over recent decades, Catalano’s research has focused on premature birth and other birth outcomes at population level. Having used Swedish data to highlight the corelation between social, behavioural and biological processes, he has been an important source of inspiration for research at the Institute for Housing and Urban Research (IBF) at Uppsala University.

Sujata Patel was until last year Distinguished Professor at Savitribai Phule Pune University in India. She is an internationally established social scientist whose research area stretches from studies of neoliberalism, working conditions, citizenship and urban development to specialisation in social theory and the problematisation of the dichotomies on which postcolonial traditions are founded. Patel has worked as a visiting professor in several countries, including Sweden as holder of the Swedish Research Council’s Kerstin Hesselgren visiting professorship in 2021. Her contribution to understanding how postcolonial mindsets around the world differ depending on the nature of different social science traditions contributes to problematising how new generations of social scientists view social theory beyond the East/West divide.

Faculty of Educational Sciences

Professor Barbara Schulte holds the Chair of Comparative & International Education at the University of Vienna. Her research spans education and upbringing from preschool to higher education. Schulte has a wealth of experience of international research collaboration and cooperation within and between different subject areas, languages and cultural contexts. The breadth of her empirical experience and the depth of her expertise in comparative studies are particularly important at a time when globalisation and challenges to democracy are high on the social agenda. With her strong commitment to educational and societal issues, Schulte is highly sought-after lecturer and a much-appreciated teacher. As a researcher, she has made significant empirical and theoretical contributions to the field of comparative education research, with a specific focus on non-European societies and global developments in education policy and practice.

Awarding honorary doctorates

The title honorary doctor (doctor honoris causa) is conferred upon individuals who have done outstanding academic work or in some other way promoted research at the University. The title is in the gift of the faculties themselves, not the vice-chancellor or University Management.

The conferment ceremony for new honorary doctors will be held in the University Main Building on 27 January 2023.

Learn more about honorary doctorates and previous awards by the University’s faculties.