In five years, the University will be 550 years old. That may seem far off, but if you are planning a jubilee year to celebrate 550 years of academic research and education, now is probably the best time to get started. So in spring 2022, the Vice-Chancellor appointed a steering group to develop a proposal for how the University will celebrate 550 years in operation.

“We are now at the stage of exploring ideas, and welcome all suggestions and ideas,” explains Johan Tysk, Vice-Rector of Science and Technology and chair of the steering group for the jubilee celebration.

Looking ahead

In 2023, the steering group will submit a report to the Vice-Chancellor, proposing measures and a budget for jubilee year 2027 and the planning process up to 2027. The main purpose of a jubilee year is to highlight what makes the University relevant now and what will keep us relevant in the future so that the University can celebrate even more jubilees.

“In the steering group, we discuss the jubilee in terms of history that moves us forward. We want the jubilee year to be filled with broad, timeless, interesting activities that are forward-looking but not too coloured by the present,” says Johan Tysk.

One starting point for the creative discussions on what the jubilee year can be filled with is the “Development Plan 2050”, the University's long-term plan for the future.

“One example is that we want to develop the cyclable oval that connects all campuses in Uppsala. We want to make the cycling oval clearer and more accessible, which does not necessarily mean major changes. A clearer cycling oval that connects the University points forward in many ways: cycling is environmentally friendly and linking it to the oval gives the University major opportunities to expand. There are few universities in the world that are as much a part of the city as Uppsala University is, and the city is also very much alive in the University,” says Johan Tysk.

Why celebrate 550 years?

A question that may arise is – why celebrate 550 years? Wouldn't it be enough to celebrate every 100 years?

If you look up the word jubilee on Wikipedia, the term “jubilee” dates back to biblical times, with the Year of Jubilee celebrated every 50 years according to the Book of Leviticus.

“When Uppsala University celebrated its 450th jubilee in 1927, the Vice-Chancellor at the time explained why it should be celebrated every 50 years,” explains Anna Liv Jonsson, project manager for jubilee planning. “When you celebrate every fiftieth year, a new generation always gets the opportunity to join in the celebrations and no generation is left behind, so to speak.”

Themes for further discussion

To facilitate further discussions, the steering group has drawn up a thematic structure or framework for the preparations:

  • the University and culture
  • the University and future generations
  • the University as a social actor
  • the University in the city and the world
  • renewal of the University.

“We are discussing what we can do to make the University more visible in Uppsala and Visby. For example, is it possible to develop travel centres and similar facilities so that people feel like they have come to the university city of Uppsala or Visby?”

“Naturally, we also want to organise good festivities to celebrate the jubilee,” concludes Johan Tysk with a smile.