WAU professor Paul Richards, chair in Technology and Agrarian Development, is involved in Sierra Leone's civil war as a war researcher and peace mediator. He has developed post-war scenarios of agrarian development, in which the young soldiers and rebels will settle in bush universities where they will be taught to make water pumps from war material and learn to grow their own food. Richards received a 2.6 million-guilder contribution from England to build these universities and he wants to select WAU students to do practical work there.
About fifty students occupied the WAU central office last week in an attempt to persuade the Board to reject the Dutch education minister's reforms of the university management. The Board was not impressed by the students' demands and asked the police to move them out. However, the atmosphere was easy-going: the tea lady from the main building sustained the students with snacks and they were allowed to leave their banners in the building afterwards. They also got the attention they were after from the national media, so their protest was a success.
Dutch Minister for the Environment De Boer wants to support China in its work of reducing the growing CO2 emissions in its booming economy. But the idea of joint implementation was not welcomed by the Chinese policy makers during a workshop, organised by WAU graduate Zhang. China is more interested in help to improve the food supply and reduce erosion," says Zhang. Besides, China doesn't want donors to take the credit for reducing CO2 emissions in the initial, easy stages." The Dutch delegation is not convinced by these arguments. China is referring to a future problem, but hasn't made any commitment to suppress CO2 emissions right now," says Professor Jepma from the University of Groningen.
The WAU won't be able to survive without technology, says Professor Piet Walstra, chair in Dairy Technology, who left the university last week. Technology has often been seen as a necessary evil, because it is perceived as exploiting Mother Earth. But a technologist focuses much more on solving problems than a scientist, whose main aim is to fit data into a simplified model and publicise that quickly. Cooperation between scientists and technologists is therefore vital."
One hundred years ago, the University Arboretum on the Gen. Foulkesweg was started as an open air laboratory for horticulturalists. Nowadays, the two arboreta are mostly used as a pleasant walking area. That's a pity, says manager Jan Just Bos. Students in Biology, Forestry and Landscape Planning should have some taxonomic knowledge, but there is a lack of interest. Most students and scientists studying biodiversity flee to their laboratories. I fear that they hide there to escape the overwhelming greatness of biodiversity in nature."