Karolinska Institutet's value statements

There are three parts to Karolinska Institutet’s value statements: Magna Charta Universitatum, The Ethical Foundations of the State and Karolinska Institutet’s own core values. Our various departments and divisions will now be discussing what this means for us in practice.

Magna Charta Universitatum

KI stands up for the basic values which many European universities have agreed on and set out in the Magna Charta Universitatum. The charter has been signed by hundreds of university rectors and leaders around the world, and the number of signed-up universities is constantly growing. 
You can download Magna Charta Universitatum at Magna Charta Observatory

The fundamental principles of the Magna Charta Universitatum:

1. The university is an autonomous institution at the heart of societies differently organised because of geography and historical heritage; it produces, examines, appraises and hands down culture by research and teaching. To meet the needs of the world around it, its research and teaching must be morally and intellectually independent of all political authority and economic power.

2. Teaching and research in universities must be inseparable if their tuition is not to lag behind changing needs, the demands of society, and advances in scientific knowledge.

3. Freedom in research and training is the fundamental principle of university life, and governments and universities, each as far as in them lies, must ensure respect for this fundamental requirement. Rejecting intolerance and always open to dialogue, a university is an ideal meeting-ground for teachers capable of imparting their knowledge and well equipped to develop it by research and innovation and for students entitled, able and willing to enrich their minds with that knowledge.

4. A university is the trustee of the European humanist tradition; its constant care is to attain universal knowledge; to fulfil its vocation it transcends geographical and political frontiers, and affirms the vital need for different cultures to know and influence each other.

The Ethical Foundations of the State

The Ethical Foundations of the state (only in swedish) comprises six principles describing the values and ethical codes to which all state employees should adhere.

The six fundamental principles are:

1.  Democracy As state employees, we work on behalf of the citizens. We ensure that the decisions taken by Parliament (the Riksdag) and the Swedish Government (Regeringen) become a reality in fact. Basically, this means that as state employees we must behave in a manner that assists in building and maintaining a state administration that everyone can have confidence in. This policy is comprehensive and summarises the essence of the ethical foundations of the state.

2. Legality Legality is a key value in a democratic state. All state employees must be familiar with, and comply with, the laws and regulations that are applicable to our activities. The principle of legality means that the activities the state authorities engage in must have their support in by-laws and regulations. Irrespective of the political majority in power at any given time, a citizen must be secure in knowing that the state authorities follow the rules.

3. Objectivity Everyone must be able to trust that, as state employees, we act objectively and impartially. Therefore, we are on the alert to recognise and call attention to the conflicts of interest that may arise. The principle of objectivity deals with maintaining confidence in the state authorities and national government.

4. Transparency As a fundamental rule, everyone has the right to knowledge of what the state authorities are doing. Transparency and freedom of expression are the cornerstones of democracy. Citizens should be able to communicate with the state authorities, parliament and government, and have knowledge of its activities. That is simply due to the fact that, because we are exercising state authority, we are not allowed to do this in secret.

5. Respect We treat everyone equally and with respect. This means, among other things, that we do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender, age, ethnicity or physical disability. This principle also means that we continually work to combat all forms of discrimination. This applies in every situation, including in the workplace with each other and when we interact with citizens.

6. Efficiency and good service In the activities and services provided by the government, we have the objective and obligation to combine efficiency of service and accessibility. We inform and provide guidance in a simple and understandable manner and as promptly as possible. We also carry out our tasks efficiently and conserve resources.

Karolinska Institutet’s core values

In connection with the drafting of KI’s Strategy 2030 a dialogue was held on KI's organisational culture through workshops, meetings and seminars with the university management and the staff and students who had registered an interest in taking part in the strategy work. The dialogue also produced KI’s core values, which are to inform everything we do, how we relate to each other and how interact with the community. 


Karolinska Institutet’s core values are: 

Creativity - We create groundbreaking results through creative thinking, perseverance, collaboration, and encouragement of originality
Passion - We have a passion for science and knowledge transfer and their power to change the world
Responsibility - Our activities are characterised by high quality and an ethical approach, as well as by respect, empathy, and critical reflection.

The next steps in working with our organisation culture  

To be both an academic institution and a public authority sometimes entails having to balance conflicting principles and values. This is a complex reality that all of us at KI need to address.

Some areas of KI work very well, while others still need attention. In Strategy 2030 and in our shared values we have laid the foundation upon which we can all work to create tomorrow’s KI. It’s now time for our departments and divisions to discuss what the core values mean to us and what we collectively want to make of them.

This aim will be achieved through dialogue – because different perspectives and professions can, when based on a foundation of trust and advanced cooperation, prove more instructive and give better results. Different kinds of collaboration are thus an important success factor and a central theme of KI’s organisational culture. 


If you are curious about how to apply KI’s values to everyday dilemmas and challenges and would like some support doing so, don’t hesitate to get in touch.