Making minds matter
Opening Academic Year

Opening Academic Year

The already unique Academic Year 2020-2021 was opened in a way that we have never previously seen: with an online talk show. Physically in the aula and digitally at home or in other places within Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), over 9,500 people from 95 countries watched the celebration of the opening of the academic year on Monday 31 August 2020. Great interviews about education for everyone, the adolescent brain and dementia, the presentation of various awards, music by Rolf Sanchez and Emma Heesters and a speech by Rector Magnificus, Rutger Engels.

Aftermovie - Opening Academic Year 2020

The organisation was challenged by the corona limitations, but that didn't stop them in organizing an overwhelming opening of a new academic year. Only 120 persons were allowed in the aula, but over 6000 people followed the live talkshow online. Several short movies turned the opening into a lively and diverse spectacle.  This was an important moment to celebrate together, as most education and interaction this year will be virtual. In case you missed it you can watch the talkshow here.

Research with impact

Professor Eveline Crone spoke enthusiastically about her research passion: the adolescent brain. “What interests me is what gives young people strength and how you can enable them to express this. If you are an adolescent, being brazen has a function; it’s part of going against society and your parents. At the same time, this makes it difficult to impose rules on adolescents.”

Professor Afran Ikram is conducting research in Rotterdam, leading the large-scale ERGO research study into dementia in Rotterdam-Ommoord. A long-term population study into dementia has been ongoing in this district since the 1990s. Together with a PhD student he conducted a live test on Wilfried de Jong, who was relieved to pass.

The new President of the Executive Board, Professor Ed Brinksma, also introduced himself to the EUR community. “This university is one of the best in its kind. What appeals to me is that it isn’t only about scientific excellence here, but above all about impact and resolving major societal problems.  The key design problem isn’t technical. It’s actually more about how we want to design our society.”

Arie Kers

2020 Education Prize awarded to all EUR lecturers

Several prizes were also awarded, as is usual during the opening of the academic year, although this year there were some surprises. The Student Societal Impact Award was awarded for the first time: econometrics student Esmée Tanis won the prize for her sustainability efforts, which included chairing the Rotterdam Climate Table on Consumption. The Research Prize was awarded to no fewer than two researchers: Dr Simone Dalm (Erasmus MC) and Dr Julian Schaap (ESHCC). Nikki Speklé graduated summa cum laude in two masters in law and economics, and received the Lambers Student Excellence Award for this. The Rotterdam Thesis Award was presented to Mareen Bastiaans for her thesis ‘Labour market and health effects of an activation programme for the long-term inactive’.

Finally, the 2020 Education Prize was awarded to all EUR lecturers as a token of appreciation for all the efforts, determination and flexibility they demonstrated during the recent tumultuous months. In videos, students from across the world recorded themselves to support and inspire the lecturers for everything they did to provide good online education.

Essential EUR role in crises

Academic Year 2020-2021 was finally officially opened by Rector Magnificus Rutger Engels. He stated that we are currently facing three crises: the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic and social inequality. “What is noticeable is that all the crises have arisen through us not keeping our eye on the ball. And many people are still ignoring, trivialising or even denying these. Erasmus University Rotterdam has an essential role to play here. Exploring what is not being noticed and using evidence to make the unnoticed visible. This is how we help find solutions and stimulate the debate. That’s how we make minds matter.”

Record number of viewers

As the complete Opening of Academic Year 2020-2021 was available online, a record number of over 6,000 viewers tuned in to the talk show.

Want to watch it again? That’s possible!

Photo's Opening Academic Year 2020-2021