Student - April 18, 2018

Living room to measure tempers

Kenneth van Zijl

Yesterday, Peasant Foundation, OtherWise, RUW Foundation and Studium Generale held a living room event to find out what parts of education and research are important for students, and what could possibly be done differently, all around the theme: Share your WURries.

© Erik-Jan van Oosten

Sitting area
In front of the south entrance to Forum, on the lawn, an iconic Dutch living room has been set up with two couches, two chairs, a coffee table – including fruits basket and table lamp – and a Persian-carpet-like rug. In the centre of the rug: a jar with folded pieces of paper. The chairs and couches are fully occupied. It is difficult to discern between the organisers and ‘regular’ students. ‘No, this is not an experiment for a new course’, says OtherWise’s Jurre Zwart, one of the organisers of this happening. ‘We are celebrating WUR’s centennial, but for us, this is also a good opportunity to ask students what they think of the university, how they rate and experience the quality of science and education, and what WUR could do differently. We are collecting the ideas that roam among the students.’

‘We enter discussions with students by having them react to questions’, says David de Winter, co-organiser on behalf of RUW Foundation. He picks up the jar with paper snippets, takes a few out and reads aloud: ‘Should science be sexier?’, ‘Do you consider social science and hard science to be inherently different?’ and ‘Do you consider yourself a scientist?’. The last question was answered in the negative by several master’s students. ‘A lot of applied research is carried out in Wageningen. I have also spoken to students who are mainly focusing on a future in business. Is WUR a university, or is it slowly moving towards a sort of refined university-of-applied-sciences-like educational institute?’

Meanwhile, about thirty students have reported to the living room. According to the organisers, the tenor is that students are satisfied about WUR and applied scientific research. More of these living room meetings will be organised, to eventually end in a large manifestation in September, during which all findings of the ‘Critical groups’ will be announced. To be continued…