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Opening of the Academic Year

It was an unforgettable opening of the academic year. Due to the corona measures, not everyone could be present on the campus. But many were able to attend the festive opening online. Would you like to watch the Opening of the Academic Year again? You can do so on this page!

The new academic year kicked off on Monday with the Opening of the Academic Year. The theme this year was happiness and resilience of young people, especially students. What does the corona crisis do to their well-being? What do they need now? VU alumna Jacobine Geel discussed this with four leading VU professors: Heleen Riper, Arne Popma, Hein Daanen and 'happiness professor' Meike Bartels. 

There was a call to invest in young people. "They are not only the future, we can also learn so much from them", said Mirjam van Praag in her keynote. Initiatives of our own committed talents were shown, such as the students of VU@ease who offer fellow students a listening ear. The winners of the Kuyper Award with their app that measures susceptibility to addiction, the leaders of New Urban Collective who 'empower' young people, and the VU dream team ProFit, which is committed to a fit campus.

Furthermore, you could enjoy an inspiring column and spoken word by Free Writer Babs Gons, with musical accompaniment by Shishani Vranckx. The Orville Breeveld ensemble provided the musical accompaniment to the Opening of the Academic Year.  

Livestream OAY 2021

Missed the Opening of the Academic Year? Or would you like to watch it again? You can!
Watch the livestream fullscreen on Vimeo


  • Jacobine Geel

    We could not have found a better presenter for this theme: Jacobine Geel is a television presenter, chair of the Dutch Association of Mental Health and Addiction Care (GGZ Nederland) until 31 August 2021 and, as of 1 September 2021, she will be the new chair of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. Jacobine studied Theology at VU Amsterdam, after which she was employed by IKON and later NCRV, both public broadcasters. In addition to her television work, she sits on the boards of various public and social bodies. Among others, she was chair of the Burgerforum Kiesstelsel (citizens’ assembly) and, in addition to her position at GGZ Nederland, she is chair of the Dutch branch of Oikocredit, an organization that provides microcredit to small businesses in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

  • Meike Bartels

    Meike Bartels, Professor of Genetics and Wellbeing at our University, will explain what happiness is. Is happiness in our genes or is it determined by our environment? Meike’s research is motivated by the question of why people are the way they are. She not only wants to know why people have problems; but also emphatically why they do not. The ‘happiness professor’ uses twins for much of her research and the knowledge she gains can be used to prevent psychological problems. Meike’s roles include chair of the Behaviour Genetics Association and head of the Personalised Medicine Programme at the research institute Amsterdam Public Health.

  • Heleen Riper

    Heleen Riper is Professor of eMental-Health/Clinical Psychology at VU Amsterdam and is well-known both at home and abroad. She studies the development (including cost-benefit analyses) and implementation of new and innovative media interventions that target mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and problem drinking. Heleen is an honorary doctor of the Telepsychiatric Center and Institute of Clinical Research of the University of Southern Denmark and a senior researcher at GGZinGeest, a mental health organization. She is also on the board of the International Society for Research on Internet Interventions and previously worked for the Trimbos Institute and several other universities.

  • Arne Popma

    Arne Popma is an expert on young people. As head of the Department for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Amsterdam UMC, VUmc location, Arne supervises neurobiological research into the development of antisocial and aggressive behaviour in children and adolescents, some of whom come up against the criminal justice system. Arne is also professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Leiden University, child and youth psychiatrist at Bascule in Amsterdam and cofounder of the Nieuwe Kans (‘New Chance’) academic collaborative centre.  

  • Hein Daanen

    What effect do heat, cold, dryness and moisture have on the human body? Hein Daanen, Professor of Thermophysiology at VU Amsterdam, studies this question in a special room where he can simulate various climates. Hein knows whether an ice-cold shower really makes us feel better and what the effect is of eating chili peppers on a hot day. Hein’s research interests include thermal physiology, anthropometry, clothing science and ergonomics. 

  • Mirjam van Praag

    Mirjam van Praag will give the keynote speech. She is chair of the VU Amsterdam Executive Board and professor of entrepreneurship. One of her achievements is the foundation of the Amsterdam Centre for Entrepreneurship, which offers support to start-ups and scale-ups. After the departure of the Rector Magnificus Vinod Subramaniam, she is interim rector of the VU.

  • Babs Gons

    Babs Gons is a writer, performer, host, lecturer and spoken word artist. We are enormously proud that she is the new Writer in Residence of our university. She writes about protests, discrimination, intimate relationships and cultural silence, urging her readers to look at these topics in a new light. You can hear her perform at numerous festivals, in literary programmes, at museums, in various debating arenas, and on radio and television. Among other things, Babs was the artistic director of the Poetry Circle Nowhere and won the Black Achievement Award for Arts and Culture in 2018. Recently, her collection of poems "Do it anyway" appeared.

  • Shishani Vranckx

    The music of Shishani Vranckx crosses genres and cultures and she enchants her audience with her beautiful voice and lyrics. Her work reflects her multicultural background: she grew up in the Netherlands and has Namibian and Belgian roots. Shishani has performed at many international festivals, including Glastonbury Festival in England and Lake of Stars in Malawi. She also cooperated with UNESCO and the Museums Association of Namibia on a project to preserve cultural heritage in Namibia by recording old and new music with San communities.

Opening of the Academic Year

  • Practical information

    Opening of the 2021-2022 Academic Year

    Date: Monday, 6 September 2021

    Time: 3.30 - 4.45 PM

    Where: Online: can be attended by livestream.