Gravitation programme funds groundbreaking research on growing up

The research consortium GUTS: Growing Up Together in Society, led by Prof. Dr. Eveline Crone, from Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), has been honoured with 22 million euros from the Gravitation programme. The research project aims to discover how young people can successfully grow up and contribute to the current and future society. Prof. Dr. Loes Keijsers and Prof. Dr. Ingmar Franken are its co-applicants from the ESSB. The Gravity Grants are funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

Research for young people

The grant will allow the nineteen researchers affiliated with GUTS to expand their research activities further. With their six research projects, the researchers want to study how young people develop in the areas of education, social networks, and social norms. Crone: "I am thrilled with this grant. We are really doing this for young people. The Covid-19 crisis has taken its toll. Brushing up on disadvantages is not enough. They really need to be able to grow up successfully, which means more than scores; it is also about welfare, contributions, and involvement in society. With this subsidy, we can get to work for young people".

Rotterdam is best place

A unique aspect is the addition of youth panels; young people themselves think about what is important for their generation. The research focuses on learning together in education, social networks (such as friendships) and young people who have been in contact with the law at an early age. Through it all, there is a focus on social inequality. "Here in Rotterdam is the best place for it; this is in the DNA of the university," says Crone. "I am very fortunate to do this here with my colleagues for the next ten years."

Connecting knowledge through consortium

Researchers from GUTS, including psychologists, sociologists, child psychiatrists, pedagogues and neuroscientists, have been working for five years on the consortium that also includes the University of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam UMC, Leiden University, University of Groningen, Utrecht University, Radboud, UMC Nijmegen and the Netherlands Brain Institute. "Growing up successfully is a puzzle," says Crone "The research on brain development in young people is mostly individually focused. In society, we still place a lot of value on individual scores, such as CITO scores or admission requirements. But a child does not grow up individually, and it is part of systems of family, friends, school and social norms. That's why connecting knowledge about this has great added value." Crone adds: "It also fits very nicely into the Healthy Start program that I am shaping with colleagues from these institutions in the context of the convergence between EUR, Erasmus MC and TU Delft."

Grant important for research development

Victor Bekkers, dean of ESSB, emphasizes the importance of the grant for the further development of this research area. "As Dean of ESSB, I am incredibly proud to have been awarded this prestigious grant. Chapeau! I, therefore, congratulate everyone involved in securing this grant and, in particular, Eveline Crone, who is in the lead. This grant enables us to further grow into a leading international crystallization point for research on young people's mental development and health. It combines scientific excellence with social impact so that interdisciplinary collaboration and methodological innovation can grow and flourish." says Victor Bekkers.

Research of international top level

The Gravitation programme is implemented by NWO on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. Seven consortiums were ultimately selected from 40 applications. Researchers can carry out top-level university research and multidisciplinary collaboration for ten years. Minister Robbert Dijkgraaf: "For top-level international research, peace and quiet are essential. With this major boost we are offering long-term prospects and adequate funding to collaborating excellent research groups. Researchers from these scientific consortia, who are among the world's best in their field, can use Gravitation to work on groundbreaking research."

More information

Marjolein Kooistra, press officer ESSB | + 31 6 83676038

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