Organisation - March 12, 2018

High-quality dies natalis gathering

Albert Sikkema

Last Friday, Wageningen University celebrated its centenary during the dies natalis. The university went all out; the orators and music were of very high quality.

Presentation by Lee Cronin. © Guy Ackermans

British chemist Lee Cronin held a keynote speech. The central question was: hoe did life on Earth come to be and how can it be studied in a lab? However, only few listeners were able to reproduce what Cronin had exactly proposed in his rapid yet smooth presentation. But his creative and inquisitive lecture was very inspiring, as it set one’s mind to thinking, said several students and PhD candidates afterwards.

The presence of trumpeter Eric Vloeimans and his band Levanter was probably accompanied by a hefty price tag, but it was worth every cent. The jazz trio played fantastically – a completely different level than what we usually get at the university.

Honorary doctorates
Afterwards, it was time for the most formal part of the afternoon: the presentation of the honorary doctorates to the scientists. One by one, Russian evolutionary biologist Eugene Koonin, Chinese plant scientist Fusuo Zhang, Swedish ecologist Carl Folke and British environmental sociologist Katrina Brown were called to the stage. The Wageningen professors who had nominated them each held an identical standard speech, after which the honorary doctors were given the chance for a short word of thanks. The protocol was skilfully and soberly led by Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol.

Carola Schouten, present on behalf of the Dutch government as the Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands, held a lovely speech on the merits of the centenary, but she also glanced to the future. We should critically discuss whether everything that is scientifically possible is also socially desired, she confronted the audience. ‘For the answers, I turn to Wageningen. Give us the facts, but also the nuances.’

President of the Executive Board Louise Fresco closed the gathering. ‘Your questions soundly resonate with our ambitions’, she answered the Minister. ‘We want to strengthen the collaboration between universities and research institutes. And the primary matter is the dialogue with society.’

According to Fresco, the most important assignment that the university has is to improve the food supply ‘while saving the planet’. But even she does not know what changes that will require in the next 100 years. We have no idea what the post-fossil society, partially run by robots and artificial intelligence, will look like. ‘Our job is to formulate unknown questions.’ Such as the questions shared with the audience by Lee Cronin earlier that day.

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Reactions 2

  • Djura Prins

    Wil je als medewerkers zelf het initiatief nemen om je inzichten in samenwerking te versterken dan kun je ook deelnemen aan het workshop en coaching traject Beyond Connection.

    Voor meer informatie, via deze link op intranet vind je de beschrijving van Beyond Connection. Klik naar word doc: Workshop Beyond connection (only in English)

    Met data en algemene info.

    ps. Robbert het concert met Richard Bona georganiseerd door jazzwapeningen was zeker een concert met muziek van hoog niveau!

  • Robbert Kamphuis

    Ik vind het verheugend dat wordt opgemerkt dat de muziek van hoog niveau was. Dat we dat gewoonlijk niet gewend zijn op de Universiteit (of in Wageningen) moet ik weerspreken. De Stichting Jazz in Wageningen organiseert regelmatig concerten van dit niveau (Eric Vloeimans speelde afgelopen najaar nog in Impulse) en zelfs nog beter. Dat laatste is natuurlijk lastig meten, maar wie een kijkje neemt op snapt waarom ik dat durf te beweren.