400 years of political science in Uppsala

On 1 October 2022, Uppsala University and the Department of Government celebrate 400 years of political science in Uppsala. To commemorate this an array of events will be held from spring 2022 until spring 2023.

We are honored to host a number of guest lectures, seminars, symposiums and a jubilee ceremony on the very date of the anniversary 1 October. See all events in our Jubilee Calendar.

The second donation letter by Johan Skytte of 1 October 1622

History of the department

In 1622, Johan Skytte – then vice-chancellor of Uppsala University –  donated land and property to Uppsala University. Europe was at war and Sweden was one of the continent’s military superpowers. Johan Skytte realized that Sweden will need a whole new class of civil servants, trained in the arts of political negotiation and eloquence, to consolidate her newly-found place on the political map of Europe. His substantial donation was to fund a new professor’s chair that would make this possible.

In his donation letter, Johan Skytte stipulated that the new professor’s chair would be one in “Eloquentiae et Politices” [Latin: eloquence and politics], three centuries ahead of the emergence of political science as an independent academic discipline. Today, the Johan Skytte chair is considered to be the oldest, still-functioning professor’s chair in political science in the world and has been held by an uninterrupted line of 21 incumbents. The seat of the Johan Skytte professors, Skytteanum, is one of the landmarks of Uppsala. Its central location – at the heart of the city, is a living reminder of political science’s central role in the city’s history.

Over the centuries, a vibrant Department of Government has developed around Skytte’s professor’s chair. The department is a centre of excellence that covers all subdisciplines of Political Science and one of the most recognized political science departments in Northern Europe. The department’s faculty are successful recipients of public research grants and their research can be found in the most prestigious journals of the discipline. The department has popular undergraduate, graduate and doctoral educational programmes and a sizeable alumni network.

The Johan Skytte Prize

In 1994, the Johan Skytte Foundation – which manages Johan Skytte’s donation, instigated the Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science to further perpetuate Johan Skytte’s legacy as one of the pioneering patrons of the study of politics. The Prize, which rewards most significant contributions to political science, has quickly gained international reputation. Today, the Johan Skytte Prize is considered by many as the political science equivalent of the Nobel Prizes.

Last modified: 2022-09-08