New director of studies at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

“I would like for us to start thinking about changing our way of thinking and taking a more creative approach to teaching, and thereby engaging the students to a greater extent than previously.” This is Helle Spindler’s ambition for the future as the new director of studies at the Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences.

2014.01.27 | Tine Bagger Christiansen

Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences. Photo: AU Foto

Helle Spindler has just been appointed the new director of studies at the Department of Pscyhology and Behavioural Sciences. She takes over from Associate Professor Lars Larsen, who has been acting director of studies for the last two years.

“After two years, I now resign from the position as director of studies. Being director of studies is hard work, and if you also want to continue teaching and doing research, you will realise that it is hard to make time for everything,” says Lars Larsen and proceeds:

“Your duties as director are time-consuming, so you can try to make arrangements to be excused from teaching duties – but I really like teaching. And then, if you want to teach, it’s hard to find the time to do research. It’s a question of always having to choose between administrative tasks and research, and it is research that I’m passionate about.”

Moreover, Lars Larsen advises Helle to take care of herself and either opt out of teaching or make sure that it does not take up too much of her time and further increases her workload.

“There is an increasing tendency at the departments to incorporate the director of studies in the strategic work, which can be really exciting, but it also gives you a lot more work to do – and here I would like to take the opportunity to commend Vice-Dean Peder Østergaard, who has been an exceptionally valuable partner during my term as director of studies.”

The new director of studies Helle Spindler is, however, not afraid of the workload:

“Lars Larsen resigned from his position because he wants more time to do research. But some of my projects can wait, and then I can spend however little or much time I have left for research on organising and gathering data for the project about traumatised people that I would like to work on.”

She expects to be able to catch up on her research, when her term as director of studies ends:

 “I can see that the former directors of studies – both Preben Bertelsen and Michael Tastum – have been able to do preliminary research during their term, which they have then expanded afterwards. I expect to be able to do the same,” she says. 

Helle Spindler’s ambitions as director of studies
“I would like to work to improve things for the students and make it more exciting for the researchers to be part of the department. So that’s what I will be focusing on. I want improvements in terms of pedagogical approaches, supervision and teaching,” explains Helle Spindler and proceeds:

“We are facing some heavy challenges, not least the financial ones, which we would have liked to go without. But if we think innovatively and creatively, then there’s a chance we might be able to continue to develop the department regardless. Maybe there is even room for delivering a better product: such as, a study programme that works optimally, with satisfied students and teachers.”

Helle Spindler also wants for her department to start thinking differently and maybe more creatively about teaching approaches, and thereby engaging the students to a greater extent than previously:

“I don’t have a specific solution at hand, but I will do my best to realise these goals as soon as it becomes possible,” she says.

Passing along good advice
Former director of studies Lars Larsen would like to extend some advice to Helle Spindler:

“She has to pay attention to what the employees and especially the students have to say. It is crucial to be able to engage in open dialogue with them, as they have a lot of good ideas to bring to the table. She should also make sure to collaborate with the student counsellors and involve them in her work; for instance, about future changes to the academic regulations. And then she needs to focus on getting everything running smoothly and not enforcing any more rules and restrictions than what is already coming from the top management,” says Lars Larsen and concludes:

“Helle is very accomplished, and she has been a member of the board of studies for a long time. And my guess is that it will be easier for her than it was for me to get into the run of things. I’m happy that she decided to accept the position. It is an exciting but tough job, and I’m glad to see fresh forces stepping up to the task.”