Desmond Tutu Training Programme (DTTP)


Bridging Diversities for Academic Advancement

The Desmond Tutu Training Programme (DTTP) is an academic cooperation programme for joint PhD supervision, focusing on the theme of ‘Bridging Diversities for Academic Advancement’. In the second phase of the programme (2014- 2020), 20 VU-NRF scholarships will be awarded annually. DTTP was founded in 2007 to commemorate the visit by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to VU Amsterdam. The university wishes to honour Desmond Tutu’s lifelong and peaceful efforts for a fairer society, all over the world, through the establishment of the chair. Tutu is an international symbol for peace and reconciliation as a result of his unremitting battle against apartheid, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, and his chairmanship of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.


The chair has led to the development of the Desmond Tutu Training Programme (DTTP), which is aimed at strengthening academic collaboration between VU Amsterdam and its six partner institutes in South Africa. The DTP-based collaboration consists of the following:

  • joint supervision of South African PhDs;
  • performing academic research;
  • encouraging student exchanges at Master’s and Bachelor’s level.

The programme is coordinated by SAVUSA (South Africa – VU Amsterdam – Strategic Alliances).

Five professors

On behalf of the DTTP, four professors were introduced on 4 December 2008, whose collective teaching and research will comprise ‘Youth, Sport and Reconciliation’. The original chair has therefore been expanded to four chairs. Desmond Tutu was present in person for the occasion. A fifth Desmond Tutu Professor has been appointed as of October 1st 2009: Dr. Marceline van Furth, paediatrician and infectiologist at VU Medical Centre. On 1 September 2014, two professors have been appointed: Rienk van Grondelle , professor of biophysics and Wilbert Bitter, professor of molecular microbiology. As of February 1, 2015 André Ran has been appointed.

VU Amsterdam has maintained relations with South Africa for more than 125 years, and hopes to further strengthen scientific cooperation between the Netherlands and South Africa with the Desmond Tutu Programme and the six chairs. The appointment of the fifth professors is a milestone for VU Amsterdam in its collaboration with its partners in South Africa.