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Dies Natalis 2022: Recognition and Rewards - Science as a team effort

On Thursday 17 November, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam will celebrate its 142nd birth anniversary. Rector Magnificus Jeroen Geurts will provide a 'rollercoaster' introduction to reforms in the academic landscape during his first Dies Natalis at VU Amsterdam. What is the dream future for academic development and collaboration?

Teaching, writing and implementing research proposals, communicating results: more and more is required of scientists. As a result, fewer students and young researchers aspire to an academic career. Things can be different, according to Jeroen Geurts in his Dies-speech.

By giving lecturers room to develop further within their discipline, facilitating researchers to focus better on their research and building bridges between disciplines. In this way, we create a much more attractive prospect of working within academia for talented and enterprising academics. Recognising and valuing diverse talent creates a shift in emphasis from 'individual' to 'together'. A team effort that moves everyone forward towards a common goal.

Nationally and internationally, there is a broad movement of Recognition and Rewards. VU Amsterdam, too, is already getting up to speed with this. During his speech, Jeroen Geurts will tell more about how we as a university are implementing this.

Panel discussion: the future of academic cooperation

The speech will be followed by a panel discussion with Marcel Levi (chair NWO), Marileen Dogterom (president KNAW) and Jos Akkermans (associate professor Sustainable Careers and Organisational Behavior at the School of Business and Economics) on the dreamed future of academic cooperation.

Using inspiring examples within the university, they will engage in a discussion with lecturers, young researchers, entrepreneurs and experts in science communication.

Robbert Dijkgraaf: effective science communication

Following this, minister Robbert Dijkgraaf briefly talks about the initiative to establish a national centre for science communication. This new centre aims to gather and share expertise to make science communication more effective. What will be the future for science communication? From 'sending' to meaningful dialogue within the academy and between science and society.

Never before has there been so much momentum to create a new academic world together, a better world, more diverse and inclusive.

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You are welcome to attend this inspiring programme surrounding the celebration of VU Amsterdam's birth year! It will soon be possible to sign up.

Livestream Dies Natalis

Livestream Dies Natalis

Do you want to attend the Dies Natalis online? You can do so via a livestream. A livestream will be available on 17 November.

More information

  • The guests

    The Dies Natalis Lecture:

    • Sandjai Bhulai is Professor of Business Analytics at VU Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science. He is also co-founder of The Amsterdam Center for Business Analytics, a multidisciplinary research institute in the field of big data and business analytics. Bhulai recently won the Huibregtsen Prize 2021 at the Evening of Science & Society, together with Rob van der Mei, with the research 'Mathematics for a safer and healthier Netherlands'.  

    Honorary doctorate:

    • Marleen Stikker is founder and director of Waag future lab, and a true internet pioneer. As inventor of The Digital City, she developed the first free-access portal to a virtual community on the internet. In 1994, she joined forces with Carline Nevejan to found Waag, a leading research institute for technology and society. 


    • Marleen Huysman is a professor at VU Amsterdam’s School of Business and Economics, where she heads the KIN Center for Digital Innovation. The KIN Center carries out research into new developments in digital culture and the impact of digital innovations on organizations. Professor Huysman is also a leading light of the Digital Society research agenda established by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU) and focuses the often unintended practical consequences of digital innovations.  
    • As director of Bits of Freedom, Evelyn Austin is responsible for the strategy and operational management of this independent Dutch foundation that fights for digital civil liberties. Her other activities include membership of the Digital Culture Advisory Committee and the Netherlands Creative Industries Fund. She studied American poetry and visual arts at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.  
    • Piek Vossen is Professor of Computational Lexicology at VU Amsterdam. Vossen develops computer models that can understand language and is regarded as the Netherlands’ leading researcher in the field of text mining. He is the man behind the History Recorder, a computer system that can read vast numbers of news items, recognize events and link them automatically to record their history over a period of years. 
    • A former leader of political party GroenLinks, Femke Halsema is a prominent political figure who has held a range of public offices. She was appointed Mayor of Amsterdam in 2018.  
  • Programme

    When:    Thursday, 11 November  
    Time:      4.00-5.30 PM  
    Where:   Aula, Main Building, De Boelelaan 1105, Amsterdam      


    • 4.00 PM: Opening, Interim Rector Magnificus Mirjam van Praag 
    • 4.05 PM:  Dies Natalis Lecture, Sandjai Bhulai 
    • 4.25 PM: Honorary doctorate award ceremony, recipient Marleen Stikker, with music provided by the VU Orchestra Laudatio delivered by honorary supervisor Piek Vossen and response by Mayor Femke Halsema 
    • 4.45 PM: Panel discussion on the theme of the Dies Natalis Lecture moderated by Sandjai Bhulai and including Marleen Stikker, Marleen Huysman, Evelyn Austin, and students from The Iron Man dream team 
    • 5.10 PM: Farewell to Rector Magnificus, Professor Vinod Subramaniam; introduction of new rector  
    • 5.25 PM: Closing remarks