HoD News - 2 October 2020

2020.10.02 | Niels Haldrup

Head of Department Niels Haldrup

Dear colleagues, 

Stricter social distancing requirements

As you all know from the message yesterday, the authorities now require a further tightening of the social distancing measures at universities. The new requirements apply to classroom teaching and means that the one-metre distancing rule will apply in all lecture rooms and auditoriums. At the degree programmes where ECON is involved, this will particularly affect the exercise teaching taught by TAs in smaller teaching rooms. We must accept that further distancing is the cost to pay in order to maintain physical onsite teaching rather than being forced to go entirely online. This is a very difficult balance, but it is necessary in order to fight the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure some degree of onsite campus activity. It is expected that this will apply for the rest of the semester as well as for the spring 2021 semester.

The planning for the spring will take place in the coming weeks assuming the condition of a one-metre distance rule for all teaching, and in the management and the faculty support units we will do our best to take advantage of our experiences so far. Planning when the conditions and framework for our work constantly change is indeed exhausting and demotivating, so stability and certainty about our room for manoeuvre are what we wish for under the circumstances. I am sure that staff as well as students will agree.

COVID-19 cases at Campus Fuglesangs Allé

The full ECON COVID-19 update for week 40 will be forwarded separately. Two weeks ago, there was an outbreak of COVID-19 cases on campus, particularly among HA-students on the 1st and 3rd semester. In total around 35 students were tested positive in weeks 38+39. Three groups were asked to continue teaching online for a while, and they are now returning safely to campus in accordance with the regulations of the health authorities. The past week there have been fewer isolated cases on campus. With some delay, Aarhus BSS is now announcing the number of registered COVID-19 cases among BSS students. Please go to Aarhus BSS study portal for more information; note, that the format and contents of information is still under development. The numbers will be updated on a daily basis.

MUS/SDD fall 2020

Fortunately, there are other work tasks than those related to COVID-19. You will all soon be invited to the annual MUS (medarbejderudviklingssamtale)/SDD (staff development dialogue) with your nearest leader. The format of these annual meetings may differ for each person, and it is up to you, together with your nearest leader to set the agenda for the dialogue. It is important to emphasize that these meetings are confidential meetings between you and your leader.

When you are invited for the MUS/SDD, you will receive some documents that may help to structure your discussions. I have asked the section heads to also address your feedback on the COVID-19 situation and the experiences you have had and challenges this has caused with respect to teaching, working from home, research activities, social relations and so on. We will try to gather this qualitative feedback (in anonymized form of course) for further analysis and scrutiny in the management team, and to follow up I plan to have discussions in LSU (the Local Liason Committee) as well.

New norm system

Before the Autumn break in week 42, we plan to give everybody access to the new norm system, Excelsior. For our new colleagues: Excelsior is the new platform for registration of teaching activities, administrative tasks, research buy-out etc. Further information about the norm system will be provided in connection with the opening of Excelsior next week. We have chosen to open the system despite the fact that not all activities are registered, so please do not be alarmed if you find that some activities are missing in your account. Some information has not yet been recorded, including information about buy-out in connection with grants that were initiated before 2020. You will be asked about information in this regard in connection with the MUS/SDD meetings. Also, in connection with the MUS/SDD meetings, you will be asked about your contributions to academic and departmental services at the Department; this information will be included in Excelsior in a qualitative form.

We expect that some minor adjustments will be needed during the start-up of the new norm system; childhood diseases are to be expected. We ask for your patience and understanding, but we hope and believe that once the new norm system and its platform are fully in place, it will provide an overview and transparency in the interest of everybody - management and staff.

Responsible conduct of research and freedom of research 

Yesterday, you were informed about the time line for the mandatory course on research integrity and responsible conduct of research. The course has been launched by the University after some regrettable cases at AU that have given negative press coverage and revealed the need for clarifying the issues mentioned. As said, the course is mandatory for all academic staff (not PhD students), and next week those of you for whom this is relevant will receive further details and online access to the course via Blackboard. The course must be completed before 9 November 2020.

Job openings

The coming months there will be job openings at all levels within the Department. In November there will openings for full professors in “business economics”, and in January there will be postdoc and assistant professor openings. Also, in January there will be openings at the associate professor level.

Prior to the junior openings, there will be search calls via various sources including “Econjobmarket”. Due to COVID-19, the European and AEA-ASSA job markets will take a different form in 2021. The screening process will thus be entirely virtual and will not take place in a time window around the schedule of the ordinary job markets.

External funding

The past couple of weeks I have approved an impressive number of applications for external research funding. I would like to thank you for your efforts and work to attract funding. Attracting research funding is good for your research and your freedom to pursue your ideas, it is good for your CV, and it is good for the Department. Not all applications will succeed when submitted the first time, but often further work and improvement of the proposal followed by resubmission will eventually pay off. Thank you for your focus on external research funding.

EQUIS

This week an EQUIS peer review team has visited Aarhus BSS (online), and interviews have been going on for several days. I would like to thank those of you who have contributed to this process. A decision regarding the continued EQUIS accreditation of Aarhus BSS will be made before the end of this year.

I wish you and your families a nice weekend. Stay safe.

Niels Haldrup

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