We talked to Sanja and asked her what it means to her to be included in the book.
She told us:
‘It’s an absolute thrill to feature in a children’s book for several reasons. As a start, I am a huge fan of children’s literature, and the aim with this book – drawing attention to the various joys that higher education brings, and to academia as a profession – is hugely important. As an academic, my audience is rarely, if ever, children and so it has been a unique exercise in thinking about how to explain to a ten-year old what environmental law (my expertise) is about and what environmental law scholars do. I am also tremendously honoured to feature alongside a long list of Swedish academic heroes, including Carl von Linné and Sara Danius.
Any action that seeks to engage and attract young children to higher education is applaudable. What I find especially wonderful about this book project is that by covering 60 different life stories, it shows that there is no one way to academia, and that nourishing one’s interests and hobbies as a child can lead to extraordinary finds as an academic. For example, Danic Kragic Jensfelt (Professor of Computer Science) explains how her childhood days spent sewing and helping in the garage at her grandparent’s home sparked her interest in maths and later robotics. Similarly, Palle Dahlstedt (Professor of Art and Technology) tells how his childhood obsession with Lego helped him imagine life in his current academic field. A common denominator of the 60 stories told is allowing to be led by curiosity, and pursuing one’s interests, as opposed to what is expected, or thought to be expected from you.
The added value is that the book has captured the imagination of my 1.5-year-old son, Sergej. It includes gorgeous illustrations of each academic and my son’s current favourites include the drawings of Alexandre Antonelli (Director of Science at Kew Gardens) and Torsen Wiesel (neurophysiologist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Medicine) that cover butterflies and a football, respectively. I recently discovered that he recognises my portrait – he found the page and sweetly uttered: 'mama'. The book has topped the best seller lists for children’s books in Sweden so Sergej is clearly not alone in appreciating the book.’