I think that the University and research institutes in Wageningen should recruit more women in higher positions, says Dr Stein Bie. Dr Bie is director of the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR) in The Hague and member of the Supervisory Board of Knowledge Centre Wageningen. Women have, in general, more understanding of the needs of poor farmers in developing countries than men, who are tend to focus on technical solutions, says Bie. The University should intensify its research on alleviating poverty through interdisciplinary programmes aimed at the poor, instead of supporting the successful farmers. By doing the latter Wageningen places too much trust in the trickle down theory, which states that the poor will benefit from economic growth. This theory is true in some areas, but in a lot of other areas the poor are still hungry, although their neighbours have raised agricultural production.
The Landscape Architecture course at the University has been criticised by some architect's firms, where most of the graduates hope to find a job. The ageing lecturers at the University have lost touch with the dynamic architecture scene and have problems inspiring the students to make challenging designs. This may be true, but most departments at Dutch universities face this problem, says another graduate, who is working as an architect. I don't run with the pack. The department is heavily understaffed.
The University should do more research in Eastern Europe, is the conclusion of a series of seminars The Wild East, organised by WAU students from the Alternative Collective for Education and Development. Recent developments in agriculture in Eastern Europe, where managers with political contacts become large landowners and the large parts of the population try to survive with the food from their dachas, may cause social turmoil. Senior consultant Wim van Diepenbeek of the Dutch Rabobank thinks the WAU should start an Institute for Eastern Europe, to provide consultancy services for the development of private farmers and cooperation. Rural sociologist Jan Douwe van der Ploeg is more interested in the new peasants in these countries, who survive on their plot. The development of agriculture cannot be based on managers and consultants, according to Van der Ploeg, but should be based on peasants who can transform themselves into commercial farmers
A group of nature conservationists in Wageningen wants to build stepping stones of trees, bushes and wooded banks north of the town, to allow animals like martens and badgers to move from one natural reserve to another. One of the stepping stones, at the DLO-institute for Forestry and Nature Research, is already under construction. A main obstacle for the animals is the road from Wageningen to Ede, where they can easily be killed by cars. The conservationists want to have a tunnel for the animals, but there is no money available at the moment