The Erasmian Way
In 2019, we celebrated during our Dies natalis, that ‘our’ Professor Jan Tinbergen has won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, fifty years ago. A prominent society looked back at his academic achievements and his socially committed school of thought. Among them were Esther Duflo, Professor and Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate of 2019, and Wopke Hoekstra, Dutch minister of Finance.
To Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), the work of Tinbergen is still relevant. Just like he did, the university aims to take responsibility in confronting complex social issues. Both locally, in the city of Rotterdam, and globally. Think about technologization of society, geopolitical shifts, migration, ethnic relations, the way the market economy works, research on inequality, the city’s future, social cohesion and collaboration within Europe.
The complexity of these contemporary social issues forces us academics to converge from traditional humanities, sciences and social sciences into new interdisciplinary academic disciplines.
The notion that convergence is a necessity for the social impact of EUR’s education and research is key in our Strategy 2024, that we presented during the opening of the academic year. Only in connection to others – other disciplines, social organisations, academic institutions, corporations, alumni – we are able to deliver a positive contribution to solving complex social issues.
Given our statuses as world-leading academic institutions, and our common social responsibilities, intensifying the collaboration between TU Delft, Erasmus MC and EUR is a logical next step. In the past years, researchers and lecturers already collaborated in the Strategic Alliance Leiden-Delft-Erasmus (LDE) and the partnership Medical Delta (including Erasmus MC and LUMC). These collaborations can be intensified and increased. In 2019, we looked at how we could shape this convergence into a common research and educational strategy. Collaboration in these partnerships can be tailored to fit. Sometimes, five institutions work together, but small collaborations with two or three institutions is also possible if this speeds up the process, or increases the result.
We have also sought new international collaborations. EUR became the first Dutch university to join the European University Foundation (EUF). Aim of this network of twenty universities is speeding up the modernization of higher education in Europe. Diversity and social justice are key to this aim.
We bade farewell to some of our directors, and welcomed others. Kristel Baele parted as chairwoman of the Executive Board. Professor Ansgar Richter was appointed Dean of the Rotterdam School of Management, replacing Professor Steef van de Velde. Dr. Gabriele Jacobs was appointed Dean of the Erasmus University College (EUC). She was preceeded by the current Dean ad Interim Professor Wim Hafkamp. After more than 12 years, Professor Philip Hans Franses left his position as Dean of the Erasmus School of Economics. Professor Frank van der Duijn Schouten replaced him, as Dean ad Interim.
In 2019, we also continued our efforts for a more diverse, inclusive and safe working- and studying environment at our university. To stimulate that in 2025, at least 25 percent of our full professors is female, we launched ‘25/25’, a programme that enables talented female assistant professors and associate professors to take the next step in their professional career. Another example: Because it is important to us that students with a disability have the same chances to develop their talents as every other student, we signed the declaration of intent for a more inclusive higher education for students with a disability.
Even in a broader sense, the wellbeing and safety of our students has our full attention. Together with health organisations in Rotterdam, we have developed a well-being policy where students can work, both online and offline, and both individually as in groups, on the prevention and treatment of stress-related diseases.
Tinbergen’s work is characterized in many ways by the values of one of Europe’s greatest thinkers: Desiderius Erasmus. A thinker we are named after. His legacy shapes the way we think and act, as well as the way we are perceived. It shapes our common identity. Peculiar to Erasmus, were his large academic erudition, critical involvement, love of dialogue, world citizenship and his independent way of thinking. These qualities are the blueprint for who we are and who we want to be. We call it ‘The Erasmian Way.’
Hans Smits, chairman Executive Board