Organisation - September 28, 2017

Call for changes to Opening of Academic Year

Roelof Kleis

Some people feel the need for the Opening of the Academic Year to be organized differently, with more of a chance to enter into debate with the main speaker. Director Marc Lammers of Corporate Communication is willing to consider the idea.

© Guy Ackermans

This is the outcome of a follow-up discussion about the controversy that blew up at the beginning of this month around the keynote speech by British author and ‘climate optimist’ Matt Ridely at the Opening ceremony. The meeting took place in Impulse on Wednesday afternoon. A handful of students and one member of staff, assistant professor Ynte van Dam, came to meet a delegation from Corporate Communication. None of the signatories to the letter of protest against Ridley’s presence were present.

The problem, in the eyes of those attending the discussion, was not the fact that Ridley was given a platform. It was that there was little or no chance to respond. You could definitely give some thought to a different approach in that regard, creating more scope for debate, says communication director Lammers. In the case of Ridley, the opportunity to counter his arguments may still come. WUR spokesman Simon Vink and Lamers embraced Van Dam’s idea of devoting a special issue of a journal – Vork or NJAS for instance – to Ridley’s speech. Wageningen scientists could reflect in such as issue on Ridley’s claims.

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