Historical PhD became triple doctor

Published: 26 March 2014

Bengt Ager, who turns 86 in May, is Luleå University of technologys oldest graduate student ever. But a academic newcomer, he is not. With the thesis "Forest Work humanization and rationalization from 1900 onwards"he was rewarded with his third doctorate.

- It feels like a huge lift for me personally and gives legitimacy to the messages that I presented in my thesis, he says. Bengt Ager is Professor Emeritus of Forestry and Technology in Ergonomics and occupational analysis at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). He also worked on the predecessor of forestry research institute Skogforsk. He considers the thesis as a summary of his career.

Contact Ades summer 2013

- I have colleagues who jokingly called this "Bengans memoirs" and it's probably also a good description of the study, he says. But from the beginning it was never meant that the work would lead to a doctorate.

- Not at all, I just wanted to write down what I had experienced in my career. It was actually the first in the summer of 2013, Jan Johansson (Head of Department at the university, editor's note.) Contacted me and suggested that my writing could be a good thesis, says Bengt Ager.

Better then gradual deterioration

The study describes the working and production conditions in forestry from the last century until today. It was a success story up to the early 1990s but have gradually deteriorated with lower relative wages, increased loneliness, longer traveling times and poorer connections between production management and forest contractors. One effect of greater global competition, outsourcing and price pressure.

With the term "work of human quality" Bengt Ager launches a new approach to safety issues.

- The term work environment, I mean, is marginalized. The concept of human quality is veering towards the individual at work and is also stimulating action.

Increased academic skills

Twenty years have passed since Bengt Ager retired but age has never been an obstacle for him. Rather, he sees the benefits of doing research in his old age.

- My academic skills have only grown since retirement. Now I have the time and energy to reflect and moreover it is much easier to research today when you can get all information via computer and phone, he says, and calls on universities to better take advantage of older researchers experience and knowledge.

- I do not think that universities understand the unused resource that exists among us retired scientist. Hopefully universities will get better at using this in the future, says Bengt Ager. The academic activities will not end with the title of Doctor of LTU the next project will be a basic documentation of the forestry technological history. That he is the eldest disputant in Luleå University history, he finds surprising.

- Oops. I thought there might be some older lunatic. I actually have peers research colleagues who are still active and self, I will work until the pen falls out of my hand, says Bengt Ager.