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A Broader Mind

VU Amsterdam encourages students, academics and professionals to be open-minded. To be people with A Broader Mind who expand their perspective academically, develop themselves personally and engage socially. This helps us bridge conflicts, find sustainable solutions and work toward a better world.

At Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, you don’t just become something, you become someone. Someone with academic expertise and a focus on society.

A broad education since our foundation
Since the days of our founder Abraham Kuyper, VU Amsterdam has stood for values-driven education and research. Kuyper was an advocate of facilitating the broad intellectual and personal development of students. Students should be encouraged to be active in scholarship and society in a way that is connected to their ideology and worldview. His ideas still inspire us, although we apply them in a modern context.

Still today, we see differences of opinion and personal convictions as important driving forces behind academic pursuit and social engagement. We see VU Amsterdam as a values-driven community with impact that extends beyond our university. These values shape our education, research, knowledge transfer, operational management and also the world around us.

We therefore intentionally ask questions about the purpose, role and responsibility that we have as a university. We encourage students, academics and professionals inside and outside VU Amsterdam to do the same and to look at society, their professional field and their personal role in it with a Broader Mind.

Adding colour to identity and core tasks
With A Broader Mind, we give concrete expression to our unique identity and add colour to our academic education, research and knowledge transfer. Colour that matches the distinctive characteristics of VU Amsterdam, such as our diverse student population, our societal orientation and our excellent interdisciplinary research. Characteristics that encourage students, academics and professionals to think more broadly. The foundation of A Broader Mind lies in the triad of personal development, academic expansion and societal orientation.

Developing A Broader Mind
In addition to the broadening of academic expertise and professional skills, values also play an important role in developing A Broader Mind. There are three different types of values involved in this: 1. one's personal values, 2. the fundamental values of your field, such as justice, care for others, the search for truth, 3. the social values that are always under debate. We seek to deepen, broaden and connect these often-conflicting values.

Students, academics and professionals with A Broader Mind are aware of their own personality, values, motives and mindset, and at the same time are open to those of others. They combine in-depth professional knowledge with a broad, multidisciplinary perspective and skills. They look at things critically, from different perspectives and across borders. They are committed professionals who appreciate and utilise each other's differences, and use their knowledge and skills to work toward a better world—today, tomorrow and for future generations.

Studying with A Broader Mind

Part of A Broader Mind is the Broader Mind Course. Programme director Govert Buijs explains how VU bachelor’s and master’s students are working with VU staff to shape the future of our education

The A Broader Mind programme

  • For students

    When you study at VU Amsterdam, you will develop A Broader Mind. Whatever programme you choose, you will be challenged to look beyond the boundaries of your studies, to look at society and at yourself. This can be done in various ways.

    For example, in the Broader Mind Course, students work on their personal development, societal orientation and academic depth.

    They can also participate in Community Service Learning as an elective course within, as part of, or as an extracurricular activity alongside their study programme. Together with other students, they work on, and contribute to the solution of a current social issue that an organisation is struggling with.