Monthly Archives: May 2016

Remembering Sweden: Celebrating twenty years of endearment and ISTR’s 12th conference!

Remembering Sweden: Celebrating twenty years of endearment and ISTR’s 12th conference!

Luz E  Quiñones-GonzálezThe following is a guest post by Luz E. Quiñones-González from University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, who reflects on her memories of living in Sweden 20 years ago and celebrating her return this June for the upcoming ISTR Conference.

This year 2016 is a special year filled with many good memories. Twenty years ago, in January 1996, I arrived for the first time to Sweden for two years of service among people from all around the world gathered in a small community named Rinkeby, in Stockholm. Those two years were a life-changing experience for me.

I went to Sweden to partner with a non-profit organization that provides assistance to immigrants and refugees, including Spanish-speaking people. Since the very beginning, I got involved in the multiethnic international community, where every culture contributes to the taste, flavor, and sound in the square, small businesses, and the general economic development. Collaborating with faith-based organizations, the cultural integration was also an enriching experience. I had the privilege to meet people from different countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Syria, Greece, Kosovo, India, Uganda, Iran, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, Cuba, and even another Puerto Rican, among many other people from many other countries, and of course, many good Swedish friends.

This year, I commemorate the experience of living in this beautiful Nordic country, a cold place, yet full of warm people. I learned the language, fell in love with Sweden’s nature, its amazing landscape, and its four intensive seasons. I learned to appreciate their culture, and of course, to enjoy the cozy cafés in Gamla Stan (The Old Town). After my first good-bye to Sweden in January 1998, I have visited it twice: first in 2000 when I participated as representative of academia in a conference of gender empowerment in science and technology, and then again in the summer of 2012 for vacation.

This year, a year of jubilee, I will be back in my dear Sweden to combine a long-awaited summer vacation with a special occasion for my academic career: to participate in the 12th International Conference held by the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR).  After attending the Latin American and the Caribbean Regional Conference in San Juan and Ponce, Puerto Rico in August 2015, and serving as a moderator of two sessions, I immediately planned to join the Stockholm Conference. The focus of this year ISTR conference is “The Third Sector in Transition: Accountability, Transparency, and Social Inclusion”. It will be held at Ersta Skondal University College, Stockholm, on June 28 – July 1, 2016. I will be presenting the results of my study on volunteers in a non-profit organization in Puerto Rico. It will be an opportunity to learn and to share with all the global guests who will be telling the story of their respective countries, contributing to a better equipped civil society.

I am sure this year’s conference will encompass new challenges, and new open doors to welcome valuable contributions through research on the Third Sector from all around the world. Aware that “there is nothing more practical than a good theory”, we are eager to learn by studying, learn by doing, and learn by serving; praxis.  As an extra bonus, we will enjoy the beauty of Stockholm City, a city on water. Ola Segnestam Larsson asked in a previous blog: “Why Stockholm?”, and I add: “Why not?” To all ISTR members and guests, we welcome you to the enchanting country of Sweden!

Luz E. Quiñones-González, Ph. D. – University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez – College of Business Administration

To go by charter to the promised land of academics

The following is a guest post by Ulrika Erksell, Johan von Essen and Fredrik Kron describing how Swedish civil society practitioners will be involved in the conference.

An ISTR-conference is obviously an occasion for academics and scholars to meet, discuss and share findings, and tackle intellectual puzzles. This  conference, dedicated to the study of organizations and processes within civil society, is also of importance and interest for the people active in and responsible for managing these organisations and networks. These so-called “practitioners” are not just empirical examples of the research that is discussed at an ISTR-conference, they are also actors in their own right, interested in and not seldom dependent upon the outcome of this research.

Thus, to open up and make the upcoming ISTR-conference in Stockholm accessible to Swedish practitioners in particular, Ersta Sköndal University College is collaborating with Ideell Arena, an organization within the Swedish civil society engaged in research and training regarding organizational development and leadership in civil society. Together we have created a “guided tour,” or fast track, into the conference for persons that are initiated practitioners but not necessarily part of the academic community.

A group of about fifty persons, both board and staff members in about ten major civil society organizations, have declared their interest in participating in the ISTR-conference. The group will meet before the conference to exchange experiences as well as prepare themselves by studying the programme and choosing among the many themes or tracks that will be presented at the conference. The individuals in the group are, of course, free to choose panels and paper sessions, but there will be a particular interest in research on civil society in the Scandinavian countries. It is too rare for people active in Swedish civil society to participate in discussions about their own organizational and political environment in relation to other parts of the world, not least to the rest of Europe.

The group will meet every morning before the sessions and panels begin in order to make up the plans for the day, have a common cup of coffee and a chat. Luncheons will be arranged for the group to discuss and meet invited researchers from the field. Finally, the group will meet at the end of the day to debrief, share experiences and discuss how the day´s sessions and seminars could fit in their daily work as practitioners. The general idea and backbone of the fast track to the conference is the belief that civil society organizations could gain enormously by having an interest for contemporary civil society research and use it in their strategic work when developing their own organizations.

Ulrika Erksell and Fredrik Kron from Ideell Arena and Johan von Essen from Ersta Söndal University College will be responsible for keeping the group together and guide it into the promised land of academic research.

Ulrika Erksell, Johan von Essen and Fredrik Kron

5 Swedish words to know

Time to start practicing your Swedish language skills before you get to Stockholm!


This is how Swedes greet each other, children and grown-ups. You say it when you enter a shop, when you order in a restaurant, when you see your friends.

Hej då!

Good bye!


A short word that means “please” and “thank you” at the same time. Other variants: “tack tack“, “tack så mycket“, “tusen tack.” Swedes are known to be extremely polite and to use this word abundantly.


Going for a fika is a very Swedish thing. Though difficult to translate it basically means to meet up for a coffee and a piece of cake or pastry.


The Swedish “Cheers!” to roar when you toast.

RSVP for Opening and Closing Gala Receptions

The Swedish hosts are happy to welcome you to an Opening Reception on the first day of the conference, June 28, at 7 pm (admission from 6.30). And, to a Gala Reception after the Closing Plenary with ISTR Lecture Prize Recipient Stanley Katz on Friday July 1. The Gala Reception starts at approximately  7 pm.

For security reasons, ISTR Conference Participants are required to confirm their participation in the Opening Reception. Your RSVP is also required for the closing Gala Reception.

To register for both receptions, just go to and fill out the short online form.

For the Opening Reception, the City of Stockholm kindly invites all participants to the beautiful Stockholm City Hall. The City Hall is famous for its grand ceremonial halls and unique art pieces and is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet held on 10th of December each year. The venue for the Opening Reception is the Blue Hall which is also the place for the Nobel festivities. During the evening a guide from the City Hall will give us a short presentation about the building’s history, architecture and the Nobel price banquet. The guide will also be on hand throughout the evening to answer questions.

After the Closing Plenary Session on the last day of the conference, the Swedish hosts are happy to invite conference participants to a Gala Reception. The Gala Reception will include a welcome drink, buffet, live music and dancing. The venue for the Gala Reception is Norra Latin Conference Center in the Stockholm City center. This venue is close the Stockholm Central Station and thereby also to airport trains and buses.

Thank you for your cooperation.  We look forward to welcoming you to Stockholm!

Ersta Sköndal University College, Local Hosts of the 2016 ISTR Conference