Closing speech, ESSSAT-conference 2022: Goodbye – and please return!

Farewell-speech, at the closing of the ESSSAT-conference 2022, May 8th, Ålesund.

Dear presidents – both the former and present, dear participants, and I do hope – all of you now are: Friends of Ålesund and our region Møre og Romsdal.

This part of Norway is called Møre og Romsdal. The origin of the Møre-names resembles a latin word I’m sure many of you are familiar with: Mare. And the meaning is the same. Ocean. So Møre og Romsdal is the land by the sea, and as you can see the land which stretches into the sea.

And the people living along our coasts and fjords really have done exactly that: Longed for and stretched into the sea. Because that’s where there were riches to be found, and very often: A wet grave. In order to conquer the sea the people of Møre needed to develop technologies, ships, sails, engines, in order to survive longer and travel farther.

And even today our region is very important in an international context regarding world class maritime industries for the world market.

Rolls Royce Marine used to locate it’s headquarter for marine operations in my hometown, a smaller town south of Ålesund.

But it’s a fine tuned balance to conquer the sea, and to be conquered by the sea. And maybe this also made Christian faith a very important part of life for the people living here, and low-church, communal congregations are important even today, combining making money by believing in a god – working hard, innovate and improve, and thinking about heaven and helping the neighbour. So: Technology and faith. Science and theology.

Today we are conquering and dominating the sea, in a way which jeopardizes both the sea and our way of living. Sustainability is a hard lesson to be learnt.

So, the land of the ocean, Møre. A perfect location for the ESSSAT-conference.


I had the privilege of participating during the opening of the conference on the reception Wednesday. Now it’s Saturday and the conference is almost done.

On behalf of the academic host institutions, Volda University College, Molde University College and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology I’m here to bid farewell at the end of the 19th conference of ESSSAT.

I do hope the conference have fulfilled or exceeded your expectations, and I do hope that you have learnt a bit about the town with it’s interesting story. The tourist department strongly encourages you to return in the future, but to continue my encouragement from the reception on Wednesday: Bring warm clothes, good shoes and go for a walk in the town or the magnificent alpine scenery and the Fjords just a few kilometres from Ålesund.

From talking to a few participants I understand that the spirit, the culture, the ethos, of the conference also has been continued into this conference. And that is the opportunity to discuss contributions in small, supportive groups, and also to be able to discuss contributions at an idea-level. Maybe this is how it must be on such an interdisciplinary conference, but I understand – this works. And what works in practice and attracts international scholars year after year, conference after conference, must be a good way to do things. So keep up the good, supportive work also in the future.

When participating at the closing session with evaluation as well as presentation of best contributions from previous conferences, it was clear to me that the ESSSAT really wants to attract also younger scholars and students. When you invited to doctoral students, first timers on the conference, to summarize their experiences of the conference you demonstrated that the words of the young people at the conference really was important.

Another thing to remember from the last session was the comment that doing an interdisciplinary study is not always appreciated, and maybe it not is a good advice for a new doctoral student to start a project across disciplines of science. I’m sorry to say that this probably applies to academia in general, and this is a pity as the big challenges the human race is facing needs all of us to contribute. The main topic of this conference, sustainability, being one of those.

I will not go down the line of reasons for this or what could be done to make academia better at dealing with intradisciplinary projects. But what I know is that ESSSAT is actually trying to do something about it – especially by the ESSSAT-conference. But awarding the price to an interdisciplinary project shows in this community interdisciplinary research IS appreciated.

So for all:

Best of luck also with you academic and other achievements, and not least: Best of luck with the next conference in historical Split in Croatia!