News - December 12, 2013

Leftwing indoctrination in Wageningen?

Rob Goossens

Teachers who only cover leftwing theories, textbooks which demolish free market theory: some students find this sort of thing infuriating.

For them there is now a Dutch language Facebook page called ‘Leftwing indoctrination at my university’. Wageningen University is not mentioned, but does that mean the phenomenon is unknown here? We made some enquiries. 


Elisabet Rasch
Teacher of Mining in the Rural Development Sociology chair group 

‘Oh, I’m afraid I could end up being ‘reported’ on that Facebook page. It is crystal clear to my students that I am on the left of the political spectrum. I don’t say so outright, but when we are talking about mining activities and the activism against them, for example, it is quite clear. For me that is precisely a way of getting debate going with students. Of course I will not then judge students on their opinions. You are free to disagree with me totally, as long as you come up with good arguments.’


Patricia Lemmens
International Development Studies

‘It is more often the other way round in Wageningen. Wageningen UR relies much more than others do on the business world for its research funding.
I think that automatically leads to a focus on topics that have market value. And because the teachers are researchers at the same time, this inevitably trickles through into their teaching. Aalt Dijkhuizen’s vision on intensive agriculture plays a role in this too.’



Joost Gieling
Leisure, Tourism & Environment

‘Our teachers are pretty leftwing, but I like that. They are not radical or revolutionary but they do offer a different perspective than the conservative ideas about our domain that you constantly encounter in the media. Critical scrutiny. Just what you want.’


Machiel Lamers
Teacher of Tourism in the Environmental Policy chair group

‘I more often hear the opposite from students: “Wageningen could be a bit more leftwing”. I think that is partly because a liberal vision is expressed by those in the management, which is closely related to the sourcing of funding from the private sector. Our own group is not very politically biased. In day-to-day practice, what we are interested in is understanding processes. You have to understand how something works first before you can apply an ideological goal to it.’