The Nobel Week through the eyes of an SI Alumnus

The opportunity for SI Alumni to attend the Nobel Week Dialogue and other activities in Stockholm during the Nobel Week was announced earlier this year on the Alumni blog. Iryna Mikhnovets was one of the alumni that were chosen to attend the activities, and she also got a spot at the Nobel Night Cap and the joint SVT/BBC production “Nobel Minds”. Below you’ll find her story from the Nobel week:

When we talk about Sweden abroad, this country associates very often with words, which are well known all over the world – democracy, equality, Nobel Prize, smart and sustainable lifestyle… This list is long and everybody can add to it something special, which he or she can relate to a Swedish experience. Being a small country in the North, Sweden contributes constantly to world’s innovations, creation of smart ideas for life and development of other cultures and societies. By a long tradition Sweden has the honorable role to annually host the world’s great minds and award Nobel Prize to those who are striving to change our humanity and world for the better. The Nobel Prize is named after the famous Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, who was born in 1833, thought ahead of his time and became famous for his inventions of dynamite, detonator and successful entrepreneurship.

The Nobel Prize ceremony is followed by the Nobel Week Dialogue, which aims to gather creative and innovative minds from all over the world for an international dialogue, discussions and finding solutions for most current challenges, faced by a global society today. This year the Swedish Institute gathered around 70 representatives – alumni from different countries as well as current Swedish Institute Scholarship holders, who already became ambassadors of Swedish culture and education in many countries and were granted a unique opportunity to participate in a Nobel Week Dialogue, strengthen the cross-cultural professional networks and create new ideas.

In the evening before the Nobel Week Dialogue all invited SI alumni and current SI Scholarship holders mingled together at the Swedish Institute, where they met Ms. Annika Rembe – the Director General of the Swedish Institute as well as Mr. Olof Somell from the Nobel Museum. Mr. Somell gave a talk about the story behind the Nobel Prize and many interesting facts about the life of Alfred Nobel and his inventions. All the guests were invited to visit the Nobel Museum within the frame of the Nobel Week Dialogue and participate in organized tours in order to get a deeper insight into the Nobel heritage.

SI Alumni and SI Scholarship holders mingle at the Swedish Institute

The SI team and Mr. Olof Somell from the Nobel Museum talking about Alfred Nobel

Nobel Mingle at the Swedish Institute

Ready for the Nobel Week!

On Tuesday Stockholm City Conference Centre welcomed several hundred guests from all over the world for an interactive discussion on the topic “The Age to Come”. The aim of Nobel Week Dialogue is to bring together previous and current Nobel Laureates, leaders in different fields and representatives from the scientific world and politics in order to discuss important issues which influence nowadays our global society. This year the ageing population of the planet stayed in focus. There are many countries which face a steep ageing of their societies, increasing of elderly and diminishing of youth.

Official opening of the Nobel Week Dialogue at Stockholm City Conference Centre

Participants of the Nobel Week Dialogue were given an opportunity to choose between three parallel panel sessions on how to understand and look at ageing from a perspective of science, innovation and economics. The audience was given a great chance to put their questions to the world’s leading scientists, Nobel Laureates and other experts in the field from the USA, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Japan, France and England and participate in live panel sessions.

SI future Nobel Laureates

SI Alumni and SI Scholarship holders together with SI team visiting Nobel Week Dialogue

Apart from Nobel Laureates and representatives from the economic and political spheres, Swedish Institute Alumni and current Swedish Institute Scholarship holders got to listen to the Swedish Minister of Enterprise and Innovation Michael Damberg, famous American artist Jeff Koons and a broadcaster from BBC World’s News Today Zeinab Badawi. During the Nobel Week Dialogue the audience was also given a chance to participate in an on-line poll, where everybody could contribute to further discussions through answering questions about age, participation in a healthy life style and whether an ageing society can be seen as a challenge or an opportunity.

Followed by Nobel Week Dialogue was the Students’ Nobel Night Cap, where some Swedish Institute Scholarship holders and Swedish Institute Alumni had been given a spot. As was mentioned in an SI Alumni Blog post from previous year, there are four universities in Sweden, which host Nobel Night Cap according to an old tradition established in 1978: Stockholm University, Karolinska Institute, KTH Royal Institute of Technology and the Stockholm School of Economics. The 2014 Nobel Night Cap was held at the Stockholm School of Economics. A big number of guests traveled from overseas to attend this year Nobel Night Cap for a tribute to the world famous scientist Alfred Nobel. This year the themes of the event depicted Sweden as it is today with a great variety of landscapes, its rich cuisine, unique culture and a diverse society. The magnificent design of the hall at Stockholm School of Economics welcomed guests with its flashy atmosphere (no pictures were allowed to be taken).

The hall’s space was divided into six different sections and represented the country’s palette from forest to urban life. Every guest could find something special which he or she likes about Sweden. In one corner guests were invited to take a Swedish “fika” with a cup of aromatic coffee and a “kanelbulle” (cinnamon bun). In the West Coast corner piquant mussels with champagne awaited for all sea food lovers and the Meadow demonstrated for all guests the traditions of a Swedish Midsummer – probably one of the biggest holidays of the country, which symbolises summer, the glory of the sun, flowers and nature. Performances of young Swedish artists contributed to a festive atmosphere of the night by jazz and classical music, some folklore songs, ballet dancing, LED show, modern dancing, figure skating and DJs from Stockholm at the Mine – a modern and fancy dancefloor, arranged in the style of a mountain mine. A magic feeling of travelling through the whole Sweden was created by a team of 318 volunteers from the four above mentioned universities, who made the 2014 Nobel Night Cap an unforgettable event for all the guests.

The closing event for the Nobel Week was the broadcasted television programme “Nobel Minds” with a TV hostess from BBC World’s News Today, Zeinab Badawi – an expert from Great Britain in the field of television and radio and famous broadcaster for “Hard Talk”.

BBC broadcaster Zeinab Badawi and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Stefan W. Hell, at BBC and SVT program “Nobel Minds” at Stockholm Concert Hall

Badawi chaired Nobel Laureates 2014 in Grünewaldsalen at the Stockholm Concert Hall. World’s leading minds in areas of Economics, Chemistry, Medicine and Physics were having a round table discussion in the same building where they received Nobel Prize just the day before. Being open for a dialogue with an audience, which was represented by students from universities from all over Sweden, who prepared their questions for great minds, Nobel Laureates told about their discoveries, its future impact on humanity and their way to scientific success.

Nobel power–break, live from Stockholm. From left to right: Nobel Prize winners in Physiology and Medicine, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser, Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, William E.Moerner, and the Sveriges Riksbank Prize winner in Economic Sciences, Jean Tirole

This year there were two female representatives who received the Nobel Prize: the youngest ever, 17-years old Laureate and Pakistani activist, Malala Yousafzai, for her fight for human rights, and May-Britt Moser – a Norwegian psychologist and neuroscientist – for her research in connection between behavior and the brain, which she shared with her spouse Edvard Moser, who became a Nobel Laureate in the same field this year. A part of the discussion was dedicated to gender equality in science and successful combination of family life and work at the laboratory, where Nobel Laureates shared their thoughts based on intercultural perspective.

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize winner in Economic Sciences Jean Tirole tells students from Sweden about gender equality in science in France

Nobel Prize winner in Physiology and Medicine May-Britt Moser and SI Alumni and SI Scholarship holders at “Nobel Minds” program

The Nobel Prize is considered to be the highest prize for achievements within six areas: Medicine and Physiology, Chemistry, Physics, Literature, Peace and Economic Sciences. The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901 and since then 567 Nobel Prizes have been given to scientists, researchers and activists around the globe for their outstanding achievements, which contributed and continue to contribute to global society. There are 889 Nobel Laureates from the international community, who have been awarded the Nobel Prize until today (Source: The Swedish Institute Alumni and Swedish Institute Scholarship holders received this year a unique opportunity to be part of the world famous week in Stockholm, which inspired them for future professional contributions into local and international development.

Pictures and text: Iryna Mikhnovets

More information on where you can also watch the lectures that were held at the Nobel Week Dialogue.