Remembering our Colleague
In memoriam, Claes Alvstam.
Our colleague and friend Professor Emeritus of International Economic Geography Claes G. Alvstam has passed away and our deepest sympathies go to his wife Eva and sons Svante, Helge and Tore, along with their families.
Claes Alvstam showed an early interest in collaborating across subject areas and department boundaries. He was involved in multidisciplinary projects and discussions. This type of cooperation often lacked a formal financial or administrative basis. When the public debate on Sweden's membership in the EC/EU intensified in the early 1990s, Claes was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of a formal platform for broad European research and educational cooperation. The initiative quickly gained widespread support, not only from individual researchers, but also from university and faculty leadership. This vital foundational work would eventually lead to the Centre for European Research at the University of Gothenburg. Claes' efforts in establishing CERGU were invaluable.
Lectures and seminars on current European issues began in 1992, following the faculty-supported initiative "Working Group for European Issues. The first publication in the series "Research on European Issues" was published in 1993. Claes generously offered his expertise, contributing and participating in the editorial work. Gradually, the multidisciplinary collaboration on European issues grew and the Centre for European Research (CERGU) was established. Claes was central to shaping both operational goals and the organizational structure of CERGU. His enthusiastic efforts have been vital to the growth and success of today’s complete European environment at the University of Gothenburg, where research and education continue to maintain very high international standards, as evidenced by external evaluations.
At CERGU, Claes Alvstam served as chair of the steering committee, responsible for the international postdoctoral program and convener of the International Advisory Board. In all the positions he held, Claes showed an unwavering commitment, offered a great wealth of different ideas about how goals could be achieved, while keeping in mind how scarce financial resources could be used most prudently.
In his work as a researcher and educator, Claes demonstrated an exemplary ability to combine demands for commitment and scientific prowess with an open attitude to both the changing methodological landscape and to critical discussions about starting points and research results. Students noted his highly demanding classes, but also saw that Claes made even higher demands on himself, always striving to make his lectures factual, analytically exciting, and thus challenging. Many of the doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers who interacted with Claes were greatly impressed by his scientific curiosity and willingness to learn new things. This new knowledge became fodder for detailed critical analysis, whether it concerned theoretical, empirical or methodological matters. Claes garnered immense respect for his astute analytical ability. With his colleagues, not least from younger generations, as well as with students, Claes demonstrated the important and all-too-rare ability to step out of the spotlight, choosing primarily to support others through knowledgeable and experienced guidance through the research process. His "invisible hand" has been there over the years, gently encouraging, while managing to create a sense of security for many doctoral students and younger researchers.
We thank Claes Alvstam for his wisdom. For his principled and scientifically well-established work. He managed to remain constantly forward-looking and engaged. Claes’ passing leaves a great emptiness, but his kindness and positive spirit will continue to influence and affect the activities at CERGU long into the future.
From the Centre for European Research at the University of Gothenburg (CERGU)
Rutger Lindahl, Per Cramér, Daniel Naurin, Mats Andrén, Bengt Larsson, Thomas Erhag, Linda Karlsson Hammarfelt, Linda Berg, Klas Grinell, Ann-Kristin Jonasson, Birgitta Jännebring and Angie Sohlberg