Li Bennich-Björkman is already a professor of political science at Uppsala University. Her research covers political culture and institutional change, state-building and democratization, successful organizations and organizational change. She succeeds Leif Lewin, who has held the Skytte chair for 36 years.
The Skytte chair was established in 1622 by a donation from Johan Skytte, which is now managed by the Skytte Foundation. The chair is tied to elocution, and an important criterion for the appointment is the ability to communicate research—both in academic contexts and to the media and the general public. The Skytte professor also plays a key role in selecting the recipient of the Skytte Prize, which is awarded annually to an internationally recognized political scientist. The prize is SEK 500,000, the largest in the world in the social sciences.
Those applying for the chair must deliver a public trial lecture that is judged by three experts, two in political science and one in elocution. In her trial lecture Li Bennich-Björkman spoke about new democracies and the role of the past in connection with the fall of communism, focusing on two key political figures in Estonia.
All three experts ranked Li Bennich-Björkman first among the applicants, and the recruitment committee then submitted its proposal to the patron of the Skytte Foundation, Count Nils-Axel Mörner, who made the final decision. This decision was confirmed yesterday by Uppsala University Vice-Chancellor Anders Hallberg. A three-week period for appeals will follow the public announcement of the decision.
A portrait of Li Bennich-Björkman can be downloaded at http://newsdesk.se/pressroom/uu/pressrelease/view/first-woman-appointed-to-worlds-oldest-chair-in-political-science-179731