The visiting committee assessing the quality of sociological research at ten Dutch universities, gave an average score to the Wageningen sociologists this month. The research on rural development carried out by Professors Jan Douwe van der Ploeg and Norman Long are of high quality, according to the committee, while the small programmes on environmental sociology and recreation sociology scored satisfactory, and were termed borderline cases. The programme on household sociology was graded unsatisfactory. The committee wants more cooperation between the four programmes, as the latter three are considered too small.
The proposal to build an ice rink on the Wageningen mountain (hill is a better word) caused much discussion this summer. Sportsmen and those favouring economic development in Wageningen were opposed by environmentalists and nature conservation enthusiasts, who fear that the groundwater under the hill will become polluted and the ecological infrastructure damaged. This protest coincided with the interests of the residents near the old soccer stadium where the skating rink is to be located. They fear that their relaxed Sundays in their gardens will be disturbed by the sound of skaters. Since regional officials decided that building a rink would not be in line with other community policies, the municipality of Wageningen now has to carry out a more thorough investigation into the matter. So in the coming years you are unlikely to be able to skate on the Wageningen hill....if you don't mind.
The pharmaceutical multinational Hoechst is to buy shares in the Belgian biotechnology company Plant Genetic Systems (PGS) for over a billion guilders. Hoechst, producer of plant protection chemicals, needs PGS's know-how and patents in order to improve its market position in the area of plant resistance to pesticides. Moreover, PGS has developed genetically engineered plants that eliminate army worm. The company has all the patents on techniques for modifying maize using transgenetic genes. In de long run Hoechst can only survive if it invests in biotechnology research and products. Other multinationals have already acquired small highly skilled companies in this field.
Nearly nine hundred Dutch students cycled through Wageningen last week to encounter all sorts of activities and the four student clubs. Their introductory week was full of music, information, the task of raising money for a good cause....and beer. They were easy to recognise, because the tutors had provided all new students with underwear, baseball caps or brightly coloured printed t-shirts. Student club KSV organised a dating show, in which a girl could choose a boy, while Unitas invited the men to dress up as women on its erotic dance night. By the time it came to the music festival at the end of the introduction week, most newcomers were already exhausted.
Henk van den Hoofdakker, member of WAU's Executive Board, has decided to leave the Board next year. He is tired of making restrictive budgeting plans at the university and wants a new challenge. Chairman of the Board, Theo Vos, will also leave at the end of this year. The university is still awaiting the definitive outcome for the reorganisation, as the Dutch minister of Agriculture is considering merging the university with the other agricultural institutes in Wageningen.