News - February 22, 2018

Row about removal of lecture resolved

Linda van der Nat

The online lecture that was taken offline after a complaint from a property company is available on YouTube again. But emeritus professor of Land Use Planning Arnold van der Valk is going to record his lecture again.

The disputed video in which emeritus professor Arnold van der Valk describes the situation surrounding De Boterbloem care farm. © AMS

Van der Valk caused a stir on Tuesday by accusing Wageningen University & Research in the media of spineless behaviour. The university had removed an online lecture of his from the internet. In the lecture, the professor had used the case of the Amsterdam care farm De Boterbloem to illustrate how politics, power and money influence spatial planning decisions.

According to property developer SADC, named in the case study, Van der Valk makes inaccurate statements and falsely implies that the care farm has been chased off the site. The company complained to the coordinator of the MOOC (massive online open course) that the online lecture was part of. The coordinator proceeded to remove the lecture, much to Van der Volk’s annoyance. ‘I blame the culture of fear that often governs large organizations. This person has opted for the line of least resistance, at my expense. That is why I went on the offensive when journalists called.’

Too one-sided
WUR spokesperson Simon Vink regrets the instant removal of the lecture. ‘That was a mistake. It would have been better to contact Arnold van der Valk first.’ Vink does think the lecture paints too one-sided a picture of the situation around the care farm. ‘There should be more nuance and less black-and-white thinking in that kind of analysis. The teachers responsible for the MOOC also said later that they should have seen that.’ Vink sees the situation as an illustration of the difference between lectures in the classroom and online ones. ‘In the classroom, the teachers can guide the discussion. Online, everyone can  give it their own twist.’

I don’t take back anything I said
Emeritus professor Arnold van der Valk

The coordinator of the MOOC has now talked to Van der Valk about a new version of the lecture to be recorded soon. Vink: ‘It is a question of minor adjustments, which do not affect the many storyline.’ According to Van de Valk, all that is needed is a couple of sentences emphasizing that parties in a conflict situation have divergent perceptions of reality. ‘I have no problem with such an addition. But I don’t take back anything I said, because it is all based on facts.’ The adapted version of the online lecture will go online on 6 March.

Curious for the the lecture?