Opening Academic Year 2 September 2019

We are in charge!

We will be exploring the theme of democratic leadership, with keynote Paul Rosenmöller, two young leaders and writer Arnon Grunberg. Are we really in charge? What can democratic leadership do to strengthen our democracy's resilience and streamline its decision-making? And what form should that leadership take? We will be hearing from some leaders who have already demonstrated their ability to strike the right balance between creating support and taking the initiative, between listening, responsiveness and concrete action. Action that invites and challenges everyone to contribute to a better future - a shared future. Your future!

With the Opening Academic Year we are making a start with the annual theme of Governance for Society, which we will deepen this year. We hope to meet you on the 2th of September!

3.15 p.m. 
Reception in The Foyer
3.45 p.m.
Aula open, music by The Brotherhood Brassband
4.00 p.m.
Opening speech by Mirjam van Praag
4.20 p.m.
Speech by Paul Rosenmöller
4.35 p.m.
Interview with young leader Diederick van der Wijk, led by Eva Brouwer
4.40 p.m.
Interview with yount leader Peter Lossie, led by Eva Brouwer
5.05 p.m.
Column by Arnon Grunberg
5.10 p.m.
Closure by Mirjam van Praag
5.15 p.m.
Drinks in The Foyer, accompanied by the Brotherhood Brassband

Mirjam van Praag
Since 1 March 2018 Mirjam van Praag is president of the Executive Board, of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Together with the rector and the vice-president, she is responsible for the daily management of VU Amsterdam.
Paul Rosenmöller
Paul Rosenmöller is chairman of the VO-raad, the Dutch interest organization of  school boards and schools in secondary education, and he is chairman of GroenLinks in the senate.
Arnon Grunberg
Arnon Grunberg is a Dutch writer. He has been the writer in residence of VU Amsterdam since 1 June 2019. During his appointment he will reflect on the theme Governance for Society, about the resilience of democracy.
Eva Brouwer
Eva Brouwer is chair of the day and author of the book 'In 10 stappen je podium pakken'. She studied history at Utrecht University and worked for ten years at RTV Utrecht as the presenter of the daily news bulletin. Brouwer now works as day chairperson and presentation coach with the motto 'Pak je Podium!'
Diederick van der Wijk
Diederick van der Wijk started in 2017 together with David Hwan, Forward Incubator (formerly Refugees Forward), to support entrepreneurs with a refugee background in setting up their own business. Forward Incubator is now active in Rotterdam and 45 entrepreneurs have completed the program, of which 26 have started a business. Forward Incubator relies on the voluntary commitment of experienced entrepreneurs, ambitious students and the business community.
Pieter LossiePieter Lossie (17) from Harmelen is the chairman of the National Action Committee for Students (LAKS), representing one million students in the Netherlands. As a political lobbyist and organizer of YouthforclimateNL, he spoke with Mark Rutte and Eric Wiebes during the major student strikes. He is busy now to obtain his VWO diploma.
Brotherhood Brassband

The Brotherhood Brassband originated in the early eighties from a group of Surinamese and Antillean friends. With djembe's, string and tenor drums they walked in demonstrations against apartheid and to get Nelson Mandela free. Their most powerful means of communication is music, the only language in the world without national borders! In 1989 the name drum band was changed to brass band because wind players, campana players and dancers had come to strengthen the band. Now the band plays bigi poku, reggae with carnival rhythm, merenque, salsa and sambabrass music. The band specially known in Amsterdam-Zuidoost. Their philosophy is: brotherhood, respect, creativity, self-development and being a positive example for black youth.

The event will take place in de Aula of the mail building of VU Amsterdam. At De Boelelaan 1105, Amsterdam.
The programme is in Dutch. To accommodate international guests, an English-speaking interpreter is present. Headsets are available.

We invite professors to take part in the procession. The procession will form at 3:45 the Foyer. Professors and Members of the Council of Deans will wear the ceremonial cap and gown.

Do you have any questions? Please send an email to:

Please also visit the VU On The Roof Film Festival from 3 until 6 September. All films shown will have a connection with our year-theme 'Governance for Society'.