Dr J. Lelieveld and Dr J. Slanina were appointed to the position of chair in the Department of Air Pollution at WAU. They want to shift the direction of the department from research on acid rain towards climate modelling and atmospheric chemistry. By making models we can forge a better link between scientific research and environmental policy, and that is our aim," says Slanina. The two professors are dissatisfied with the results of the Berlin Climate Conference this month, especially concerning the policy of the United States. If the Americans get the chance, they would include their wastage of energy in the constitution as a fundamental right."
Dutch Minister of Agriculture, Jozias van Aartsen, wants to support farmers in modernizing their farms towards environmental production, according to his priority paper which was published this month. But farmers who are already trying to implement this policy, face all sorts of rules from the government which obstruct on-farm tailor-made solutions. Some farmers want to be exempted from the rules and establish local self regulation for this reason.
Dutch higher education welcomes large numbers of students who, in spite of the budget cuts by the government, should be better prepared for the labour market. This can only be achieved by offering a colourful pallet of courses with different aims and lengths, and carefully selecting students for the various courses available, say several educational policy makers. The WAU thinks this type of specialisation can best be attained in cooperation with the schools for vocational agricultural training; it wants MSc courses and Professional Masters vocational courses. The Ministry of Agriculture agrees, but the Ministry of Higher Education disagrees: the latter wants to maintain a clear distinction between university studies and vocational training.
Twelve PhD students from the Department of Human Nutrition at WAU visited the universities of Harvard and Cornell in the United States last month to exchange research results. They found out that the university educational system in the US is quite different from that in Holland. American students only start specialising during their MSc or PhD training and have to do a lot of compulsory course work. At Cornell, students have to write their own research proposal and choose their supervisor, which they see as an advantage over the Dutch system, where PhD students have to apply for a research topic which has already been determined by a department. But they were surprised that we had already published scientific articles", says a PhD student from WAU, they didn't dare to present their research."