Six WAU professors and one PhD researcher debated the future of Dutch agriculture last Monday. Sociologist Van der Ploeg and Agronomist Struik want to protect farmers by stimulating environmental and regional production, and using additional funds for nature conservation to encourage farmers to work in that direction. Economist Peerlings and Marketing Research Professor Meulenberg do not think this will help the sectors with intensive production in Holland, such as pig breeders and horticulture; they have to adapt themselves to world market conditions and some of these farmers will simply go bankrupt. Historian Van der Woude thinks that the Golden Age is behind us and farmers will need to look to multiple income sources in order to survive in the next fifty to hundred years.
The Executive Board intends to merge WAU's nearly seventy departments into fifteen or twenty big ones. The departments that have already seen fusions are Food Science and Physical Planning. Food Science is a success, because the cooperating sections have focused their disciplinary research and education on common applications. Physical Science did not discuss a common strategy and is still divided along the lines of the old departments.
WAU student Trudie Jansen applied for a grant at the Carnegie Mellon University in the US using Internet. She found information about the university on the Electronic Highway and contacted students at Carnegie by E-mail for additional information. Trudie lives in the Haarweg student house, which has been connected to the university's network. Her corridor mates are now all busy using Internet. Most profitable is the I-phone: it is possible to chat with fellow students from abroad through Internet while only paying local telephone rates.
English sociologist Ted Benton is looking for approaches which go beyond the dualism of nature and society. He thinks that social scientists have moved away from natural sciences by studying language, culture and power relations. In doing this have brought relativism to the results of natural science research. He thinks that scientists can make connections between phenomena such as poverty, the human immune system and health, and that social relationships are in turn influenced by crop systems and soil degradation. Teams of social and natural scientists should study these relationships together, says Benton.