Society and with it our university community has a wide variety of gender, sexual orientation, nationalities, cultures, ways of thinking and religions. We train and educate our students to deal with these differences. So that they, as professionals, are able to view matters from a broader perspective, and as future leaders can make the difference in society. We strive for 'inclusive excellence' through four pillars, whereby students, teachers, lecturers and employees within VU use mutual differences to stimulate more creativity and talent development

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers a learning and working environment that stimulates and encourages creativity and talent development through mutual differences. Our students come into contact with different diversity aspects and receive training in intercultural competences. We achieve this by, among other things, training and coaching teachers  in providing diversity-sensitive education.

Quote Feroz English  

Projects within this pillar

  • Diversity-sensitive education
    Various faculties participate in this project where the strengthening of the diversity competencies of both teachers and students is central. This way they develop tailored courses per faculty on diversity-sensitive didactics for both teachers and administrators. Several faculties will join in 2018. 
    Contact: Thea van Lankveld
  • Intercultural Competences
    With this tool students can measure how diversity-sensitive they are themselves. In collaboration with the Aurora Network, we are currently working on an English version of the questionnaire.
    Contact: Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee 
  • Bonding & Bridging: Diversity in Study and Student-associations 
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam has a large number of study and student associations; from the religious Islamic Student Association (ISA) to the future economists of the association AUREUS. Diversity sometimes needs a push; Because different study and student associations work together actively, students build on their cultural skills and broaden their network. An example of this connection is the student association DOCS, which is dedicated to diversity, openness, culture and students.
    Contact: Wim Haan

We supervise students in three study phases, focusing on the intake, study time and preparation for the labor market; Good preparation is half the job.
For a VWO student, the transition from high school to a university can be huge. Especially for 'first generation' students, whose parents have not studied, we try to reduce the step from high school to VU. During their studies we motivate our students to get the best out of their study time. In addition, we prepare our students for the labor market. After all,  good education is not a guarantee for a good job.
Quote 5VWO English  

Projects within this pillar

  • Be Prepared
    Be Prepared is a three-day empowerment program for 5-VWO students, especially for those who are the first to study in their family. We help these students to make a study choice and teach them the tips and tricks of studying effectively.
    Contact: Yvonne Moonen-Thompson  
  • Better Prepared
    Following the Be Prepared program, students are introduced to the academic world during the VU introduction days. This program starts in September 2018.
    Contact: Wim Haan 
  • Student Exchange to the University of California, Los Angeles
    Each year we select four first-generation students who will  follow a mix of academic programs at the University of California in the United States for six weeks. Reversed, there are four American students at VU. Travel wisely! 
    Contact: Wim Haan 
  • Meet your Mentor
    The collaboration between VU and ECHO has led to Meet your Mentor. A digital mentoring platform that supports young people with a non-Western background in their first step to the labor market. By linking students to professionals from a relevant field, the students gain experience and broaden their network. For example, a law student is connected to a lawyer, and a sociology student takes a look inside a social company or enterprise.
    Contact: Meltem Halaceli
  • Collaboration with the Amsterdam Nieuw-West District
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Amsterdam Nieuw-West District have in common that they both have a wide variety of cultures. In 2017 they signed a covenant to cooperate intensively. For example, a VU study room has been opened in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. Because of this, students function as role models, contribute to citizen participation and support refugees and status holders in the corresponding  neighborhood. This collaboration is part of Community Service Learning.
    Contact: Wim Haan 

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is working on an 'inclusive organization' with a personnel policy in which diversity plays a central role at all levels of the organization. For example, we offer space and attention to minority groups such as women, cultural minorities and international staff; different role models on the work floor provide a diverse and inspiring working  environment.

Quote Jaap Winter English  

Projects within this pillar

  • More color at the top
    Together with a number of large employers, VU is working hard for more color in the top of Dutch organizations. Through this four-year program, we are increasing the inflow of bicultural talent into the top layer of business and government.
    Contact: Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee
  • Diversity-scan
    To what extent does the theme of diversity get attention in our curricula? In the 2015/2016 period, we scanned our curricula for diversity. The scan, for example, shows the extent to which students receive training in intercultural competences and to what extent medical students have knowledge of culture, gender and differences in status in society. A quick scan has been developed from this with which the faculties themselves can get to work. They will continue to develop this scan for various organizations.
    Contact: Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee

Together with our scientists, we examine various aspects of diversity and the effects of our diversity policy. We evaluate diversity, with our experts in the field of diversity, such as Maurice Crul, Halleh Ghorashi and Petra Verdonk.
Quote Halleh English  

Projects within this pillar

  • The Taskforce ‘The Future is Diversity’
    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University and Erasmus University Rotterdam work together within the research project The Taskforce. Together we identified which obstacles bicultural students encounter and how we can increase the study success of these students. Read more about the action points in the report: TaskForce The Future is Diversity
    Contact: Maurice Crul
  • Research Exchange
    The partnership between VU, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and University of the Free State (UFS) conducts research on diversity and organizes an annual research seminar. In 2018 VU will be back and we will organize 'Diversity in an Era or Polarization'.
    Contact: Wim Haan 
  • Aurora
    Nine European Universities together form the Aurora network. Aurora aims for a diverse and inclusive university community; diversity research is one of the focus points of this collaboration, where we pay attention to themes such as refugees and integration.
    Contact: Neira Becar, VU International Office

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam educates academics who, from a scientific standpoint, contribute to society in a professional and responsible manner. In a world that is becoming more and more pluriform, it means that our graduates can involve different cultural perspectives in their professional actions and deal effectively with different cultures. We are an inclusive learning and working environment that especially  through the presence of differences, stimulates creativity and talent development to its maximum.
Quote Tanja English  

Through various projects that manage diversity, coach students, and guide teachers and administrators, we are an organization that values diversity very highly.

Our Chief Diversity Officer, Karen van Oudenhoven-van der Zee,Diversity Coordinator, Wim Haan en Project-coordinator Diversity, Yvonne Moonen-Thompson work together with a team of colleagues and student assistants at VU-wide diversity; diversity in all faculties and services of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

  • March 23- 2018 Kick off Meet your Mentor Program
    Official start Meet your Mentor mentoring program on Friday, March 23 in HG-2A-37. Acquaintance mentees and mentors, start of online mentoring platform and personal meetings.

  • April 5 - 2018 Peace and Conflict Lecture 2 - Psychology of negotiation and conflict-management (Workshop)
    As a run-up to the new interdisciplinary minor program Peace and Conflict Studies, four lectures/workshops will be given. On thursday April 5th, the second will take place. A workshop by Bianca Beersma, professor institutions and identity at VU.

  • May 17 - 2018Peace and Conflict Lecture 3 - New wars, 'terrorism', and peace-building in the 21st century: Revise or reject the theory of the Righteous War?
    Lecture by Fernando Enns, professor of theology and ethics at VU and director of the Amsterdam Center for Religion and Peace & Justice Center.

  • June 7 - 2018 - Peace and Conflict Lecture 4 - Psychosocial consequences of war-related trauma
    Lecture by Marit Sijbrandij, associate professor of Clinical Psychology at VU and coordinator of the Horizon 2020 STRENGTHS project for scaling up psychological interventions with Syrian refugees.

  • Right of Speaking - November 29, 2017
    On the 29th of November 2017, the annual symposium on polarization of VU's Chief Diversity Officer took place: Right of Speaking: Towards new connections in the social debate.
    Under the direction of Nicole le Fever (NOS news correspondent), several experts started discussions with each other and with the public to understand the backgrounds of polarization and the role of (social) media in this.
    The high attendance rate, almost 200 people, was a sign that the VU attracted interest in the debate within the university.
    The starting point of the symposium was that the debate in the Netherlands around, among other things, the refugee crisis, Brexit, climate change and terrorist attacks in Europe is becoming increasingly polarized.
    In this dynamic, the gap between 'the elite' and 'the ordinary man' and between Muslims and non-Muslims grows. Polarization of opinions and between groups of people gets more chance through social media.

    Nicole le Fever went into conversation with: 
    Prof. dr. Dr. Jacquelien van Stekelenburg (Professor of Social Change & Conflict); Bas Heijne (Free Writer VU and columnist NRC).
    Joris Luyendijk (journalist with specialization in Islam and Middle East) was willing to contribute via a video film.  Foto RvS- Terugblikken
    The other speakers were nominees of the StudenTalent Prize Juliette Huygen and Maria Rast; Renée Frissen (founder and director OpenEmbassy) 
    Prof. dr. Dr. Peter Kerkhof (Director of the Amsterdam Center for Social Media and Professor of Social Media); Prof. dr. Dr. Gerard van der Steenhoven (General Director KNMI, professor ICT)
    and Ronald Zwarter (Police Chief North Netherlands).
VU Pride
VU Pride is the LGBT network for VU students and employees that provides empowerment by sharing visibility, knowledge, experiences, networking, advice and a listening ear.
Contact: Karin West pride@vu.nl
Wo/men Netwerk@VU
The wo / men network @ VU aims to improve the position of women in the workplace, as long as it is still unequal to that of men. Promoting diversity, equal opportunities and tackling gender-specific stereotypes and roles within the organization is important when it comes to the quality of our employees: men and women. The network therefore refers to quality: allowing the best people to excel in their working environment - without letting them be limited by gender bias or discrimination. Especially for VU women, we organize network meetings and further development and mentoring programs. In this way we guide women in junior positions to managerial roles such as the departmental board. Thinking along and participating in this network is open to everyone at VU, naturally for both women and men.
Contact: women4women.few@vu.nl

Diversity is cooperation. With other universities and secondary schools to municipalities and businesses; On both a national and international scale, Diversity VU works together with various partners, including:

University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
“Build Equity for all”, is the motto of UCLA when it comes to diversity. UCLA is known for its close connections with community and society. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam therefore works closely with UCLA in the field of research and exchanges.

We work together with Echo, a center of expertise in the field of diversity in (higher) education and the labor market. Among other things, the 'Meet Your Mentor' project is one of the fruits of our collaboration.

Pre University College
For the Be Prepared program, we work closely together with Pre University College (PUC), a partnership between 23 secondary schools from the Amsterdam region and VU.

Amsterdam Nieuw-West District
The Nieuw-West district is a preferred partner of VU. Nieuw-West lays the connections and thus offers students the opportunity to focus primarily on activities for residents in the neighborhood in the areas of poverty alleviation, sport and health, integration of refugees / status holders in the neighborhood and all other social and social issues that play in the district. This project is part of Community Service Learning.

Diversity VU works VU-wide, and is involved in all layers of the VU. The contact points of the Diversity team are:

Chief Diversity Officer        Coordinator DiversityProject-coordinator
Karen van den Oudenhoven-van der Zee
Karen is responsible for the diversity policy of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, expertise development and external profiling of VU on this theme.
Wim Haan
Wim supports the development and implementation of the diversity policy, in close collaboration with staff from the faculties. He is the contact person for students who have questions about diversity-related topics and is the project leader of the Community Service Learning Project.
Yvonne Moonen-Thompson
Yvonne is responsible for the daily organization and projects of the diversity team. She mostly focuses on internal and external communication.
k.i.van.oudenhoven-vander.zee@vu.nl wim.haan@vu.nl

Research/education employee
Britt Bakker, active in various projects, among others: 'More Color at the Top'

Ergün Çelik, support with, among other things, UCLA-VU exchange and the conference 'Diversity in an era of Polarization'

Max van Stigt, Support with communication and projects.

Meltem Halaceli, responsible for, among other things, the online mentoring program 'Meet Your Mentor' and the annual symposium.

Do you have questions, ideas or do you want to know more, mail us at divers@vu.nl