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The teaching and societal services nexus: Academics’ experiences in three disciplines

Journal article
Authors Magnus Holmén
Daniel Ljungberg
Published in Teaching in Higher Education
Volume 20
Issue 2
Pages 208-220
ISSN 1356-2517
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (IIE)
Department of Economy and Society
Pages 208-220
Language en
Keywords teaching, societal interaction, higher education, industry interaction and public interaction, hybrid models of teaching and societal interaction
Subject categories Other Social Sciences, Educational Sciences, Economics and Business, Other Engineering and Technologies


In this paper, we investigate the perception of academics regarding how their experiences from societal interaction (third mission) inform their teaching and vice versa. We report on a phone survey of Swedish academics in three engineering-related disciplines. The findings show that there is a perceived positive and bidirectional relationship between societal interaction and teaching. Industry-related activities were perceived to inform teaching more than other types of societal interaction. While societal interaction is at large more important for the academics in their search for relevant teaching topics and content, teaching was deemed more important for the implementation of societal interaction. We conclude by proposing that academics creatively (re)combine experiences from third mission and education, often mediated by their research activities.

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