19 January - 22 February 2022
On behalf of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO, the Swedish Research Council is issuing a call for the establishment of four UNESCO Chairs. The purpose is to give researchers, higher education institutions (HEIs) and research institutes in Sweden the opportunity to be part of the international network of UNESCO Chairs during a four-year period.
The establishment of a UNESCO Chair will broaden the HEI’s academic network and develop the local, national and global collaboration with expertise and decision-makers within the UN system. The focus of the UNESCO Chair shall be relevant to UNESCO’s work, and be within the framework for Sweden’s strategy for the collaboration with UNESCO.
The establishment of a UNESCO Chair does not entail any financial grant; instead, funding of the UNESCO Chair during the four-year period must be established by the HEI.
Subject area: Humanities and Social Sciences, Clinical Therapy Research, Artistic Research, Medicine and Health, Natural and Engineering Sciences, Educational Sciences, Development Research
Focus: Researchers nominated for the 2022 establishment of UNESCO Chairs shall be active in areas that are in line with and fulfil UNESCO’s global strategy, the Swedish Government’s strategy for Swedish collaboration with UNESCO, and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO’s strategy for the work in Sweden. The activities covered by the UNESCO Chairs shall include at least one of the Swedish strategy’s three universal perspectives: human rights, gender equality, and climate.
Applicant: An HEI or research institute, which in the application shall propose a research leader for the establishment of the Chair. The proposed research leader shall have scientific responsibility for the application, and responsibility for ensuring the application is complete; that is, that the information requested is provided according to the instructions.
Duration of the UNESCO Chair: 4 years, with the opportunity to request a 4-year extension following an application direct to the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO
Start date of the UNESCO Chair: No earlier than June 2022.
Format for the application: The application shall consist of 4 PDF documents, to be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Tuesday 22 February 2022 (14.00/2 p. m.). The application shall be signed by the professor applying, and also by an authorised representative of the Swedish HEI or research institute.
Decision: The Swedish Research Council will submit an assessment of the applications’ scientific merits to the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO in April 2022. A decision on the applications to prioritise will then be made by the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO. The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO will inform the applicants of its decision. Thereafter (no later than 30 April 2022), the prioritised applications will be sent to the Director General of UNESCO in Paris for approval. UNESCO will inform about its decision
Specific instructions for the call
The UNESCO Chairs programme was established by UNESCO, the UN’s body for education, culture, science and communication, for the purpose of promoting collaboration, networking and knowledge dissemination between higher education institutions (HEIs) internationally. Through this programme, HEIs and research institutes around the world have had opportunities to pool their resources to address challenges and contribute to the development of societies, including working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in Agenda 2030.
UNESCO’s goals for the UNESCO Chairs programme are to:
- Build bridges between academia, civil society, local society and decision-makers
- Contribute to UNESCO’s eight-year Medium Term Strategy External link, opens in new window. andAgenda 2030 (at the top right of the web page) External link, opens in new window.
- Strengthen research collaboration and knowledge dissemination between the global north and the global south
- Promote interdisciplinary research, knowledge and cocreation
The following requirements must be fulfilled in order for the organisation to be eligible to apply for a UNESCO Chair.
A UNESCO Chair shall be established at a higher education institution (HEI) or a research institute, and consist of a research leader (holder of the UNESCO Chair), a research team and a funded project that forms the basis for the application and the work within the time scope of the four-year period. The HEI or research institute shall enter into a contracted partnership with UNESCO to advance knowledge and practices within a research area prioritised according to the focus below.
The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO also has the goal that the Swedish UNESCO Chairs shall contribute to the work of fulfilling the Swedish strategy for collaboration with UNESCO, the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO’s strategy for the work in Sweden, and UNESCO’s Medium Term Strategy, and to disseminate knowledge about UNESCO and UNESCO issues in Sweden. Moreover, UNESCO Chairs shall strive to strengthen and expand international collaboration with other HEIs and research institutes, in particular with other participants in the UNESCO Chairs programme. UNESCO professors may be consulted by the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO to contribute expertise to UNESCO within their area of competence.
The focus is determined by
- The Governments’ strategy for Sweden’s collaboration with UNESCO 2022-2025. This strategy has yet to be finalized by the Government. The new strategy will be published on the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO’s website External link, opens in new window. as soon as the Government has taken a formal decision on the strategy. Please note that until then, the previous strategy for 2018-2021 will be found on the website. For any queries regarding the strategy, please contact email@example.com
- the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO’s strategy for work in Sweden External link, opens in new window.
The activities covered by the UNESCO Chairs shall include at least one of the Swedish strategy’s three universal perspectives: human rights, gender equality, and climate.
Applications to establish a UNESCO Chair shall be submitted by a Swedish HEI or research institute that intends to act as host for the UNESCO Chair. In the application, the HEI or research institute shall propose a research leader for the establishment of the Chair, who shall also have scientific responsibility for the application.
The applying researcher shall be prominent and well merited, with an international reputation within their field, and shall hold a professorship at the time of application.
If the application is approved, the leading researcher shall be employed by the organisation throughout the duration of the four-year period.
Number of applications
There is no limit to the number of applications a single HEI may submit. Any particular professor may only be included in one application.
Reporting, follow-up and extension of UNESCO Chairs
A follow-up in the form of activity reports shall be submitted to UNESCO every two years (years 2 and 4) and to the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO every two years (years 1 and 3).
The agreement with UNESCO is limited to four years. Thereafter, the UNESCO Chair may be extended by a further four-year period following an application direct to the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO no later than seven months before the agreement with UNESCO ends.
UNESCO has guidelines relating to the UNESCO Chairs Programme that describe content such as goals and the application procedure. To read these, please see UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme Guidelines and procedures. External link, opens in new window.
The application shall be written in English according to the template in the annexe Guidelines for the submission of project proposals on pages 16–19 of the same document as above, UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme Guidelines and procedures. External link, opens in new window.
According to the template, the application submitted shall consist of the following 4 documents in PDF format:
- A letter from the vice-chancellor (or corresponding), proposing the establishment of a UNESCO Chair at the HEI or research institute. This should also state any possible synergies with other activities within the organisation (maximum 2 pages)
- CV and publication list for the proposed research leader (maximum 2+2 pages)
- Letters of support from proposed partners (academic, funding bodies, foundations, organisations) (maximum 1 page per letter)
- Description of a research project, including a statement of the project funding, based on UNESCO’s template (maximum 10 page-numbered A4 pages in Arial, font size 11, single line spacing and 2.5 cm margins, including references and any images).
Please note that the document under Item 3 in the annexe Letter of support to the project from the National Commission for UNESCO shall be written by the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO for the applications selected, and will therefore not be part of the application you email to the Swedish Research Council.
The application shall include such information as enables assessment according to the criteria for assessment described under How the application is assessed.
Applications for UNESCO Chairs are assessed in competition with the other applications.
As a first step, they are assessed by members of a panel consisting of the Swedish Research Council’s secretaries general and/or members of scientific councils, councils and committees. The composition of the panel is related to the subject areas that the call relates to.
The members will assess and grade each application individually based on two criteria, namely scientific quality and (the research leader’s) merits, plus a summarising grade on a seven-grade scale Opens in new window.. The review panel then meets at a review panel meeting to discuss and prioritise the applications, and will then jointly submit a statement for each individual application to the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO.
In a second step, your application will be assessed by the Office of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO.
The application will be assessed against the following criteria for the UNESCO Chair:
- The research project shall be of high scientific quality, and also provide scientific added value nationally and internationally.
- The activities covered by the UNESCO Chair shall answer to the requirements for the focus that forms the basis of the call.
- The research leader who holds the UNESCO Chair shall:
- Be a professor at a Swedish HEI and have good and relevant scientific merits for holding a UNESCO Chair
- Have shown good communication ability and good teaching ability, as well as good ability to collaborate with the rest of society
- Have shown ability to strengthen international relationships and collaboration between north and south, through networks for disseminating knowledge, resources and information.
In its decision, the Office of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO will also weigh in and assess the application in consideration of a balance between the various parts of Sweden’s strategy for collaboration with UNESCO and the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO’s strategy for work in Sweden.
To supplement the current Swedish UNESCO Chairs External link, opens in new window. within the framework for the Swedish strategy, the Swedish National Comission for UNESCO welcomes applications in: Education for sustainable development (focusing on primary school and secondary school), sex education and freedom of speech.