The Erasmus Professorship: Bridging disciplines, fostering innovation, and shaping global impact

Dies Natalis 2023 ceremony: Erasmus Professors
Alexander Santos Lima

In 2022, Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) unveiled the Erasmus Professor position at the Dies Natalis ceremony, making a significant milestone in the institution's dedication to making a positive impact on society. The inaugural Erasmus Professors, Eveline Crone and Moniek Buijzen, embody the Erasmian tradition—socially engaged, global citizens, entrepreneurial, open-minded, and connectors. Recently, Professor Jun Borras joined the ranks as the third Erasmus Professor, a nod to his contributions recognized by the Deans and the Executive Board. Let’s dive into the Erasmus Professorship, and how these professors are bridging disciplines, fostering innovation, and shaping a global impact.

Significance within EUR’s academic tradition 

Dies Natalis, a long-standing tradition at EUR, celebrates the university's founding. In 2022, it took on added significance with the debut of the Erasmus Professor position. This move aligns with EUR's Strategy 2024, putting "Impact" at its heart and casting Erasmus Professors as inspirational examples of making positive societal change.

The Erasmus Professors mark the departure from traditional academic roles, embodying the university's commitment to being at the forefront of societal change. Rector Magnificus Annelien Bredenoord highlights their role as pioneers in impact research, learning, and transition, emphasizing the institution's dedication to making a positive impact.

According to Isabel van der Heiden, Policy Officer in Academic Affairs, Erasmus Professors are essential figure heads to EUR's mission of creating positive societal impact. By bridging disciplines and fostering innovation, Erasmus Professors play a vital role in advancing, promoting and giving a stage to people, teams and projects who embody these values.

Advice to new Erasmus Professor Jun Borras

During the Dies Natalis 2023 ceremony, Prof. Crone offered valuable advice to Prof. Borras, emphasizing that the recognition is for the exceptional work he has been doing over the past 20-plus years at International Institute of Social Studies. Prof. Crone echoed Prof. Buijzen's sentiment that "it's not an Erasmus Chair but an Erasmus Table," highlighting collaborative work that increases visibility for impactful research.

Jun Borras appointed as Erasmus Professor at the Dies Natalis 2023 ceremony
Alexander Santos Lima

Scholar-activism in critical agrarian studies 

Prof. Borras uses a scholar-activist approach that takes the struggles for social justice by the exploited and the oppressed especially among the rural working class in the Global South as a moral, intellectual and political compass in his work. His work is committed to contribute to democratizing global knowledge politics. His initiatives, including the regular International Writeshop among early career researchers in/from the Global South, training workshops among agrarian social movement activists, a small book series in agrarian studies published in more than a dozen languages, and international conferences that bring together academics and practitioners – foster enduring global communities, influence policies, and contribute to the massification of emancipatory popular education. Prof. Borras is truly a global citizen, engaged in voicing the needs of those rarely heard.

Developmental Neuroscience in Society

Prof. Crone's work in Developmental Neuroscience in Society transcends traditional boundaries. Leading the SYNC lab, she explores the intricate relationship between brain development and psychological processes, with a focus on adolescence. Her impactful research extends beyond scientific excellence to active engagement with society, leadership roles within and beyond EUR, and global recognition. Prof. Crone's initiatives inspire the next generation and showcase the practical application of Erasmian Values in scientific practice.

Pioneering Communication and Change

As Professor of Communication and Change, Prof. Buijzen spearheads initiatives to understand the integration of AI in society. The 'radicareful' AICON movement, initiated by Prof. Buijzen, exemplifies her commitment to cross-sectoral collaboration and the humane integration of AI into society. AICON challenges established systems, fostering hyperdiverse collaborations and inspiring an alternative approach to societal integration of AI.

Eveline Crone at the Dies Natalis 2023 ceremony
Arie Kers

The Synergy of Erasmus Professors 

Prof. Buijzen highlights the synergy between her and Prof. Crone's approach to the Erasmus Chair role. They share a team science approach based on diversity, inclusiveness, and equality, evident across all their activities as scientists—research, teaching, management, and community engagement. Their initiatives serve as living examples of how the Erasmian values can be practically applied in scientific practice, offering inspiration and guidance to young minds inside and outside the university. 

Prof. Buijzen’s AICON initiative exemplifies this team science approach. AICON explores the principles of successful transdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaborations between science, society, culture, and nature. Prof. Buijzen envisions EUR as an international paragon for this new form of cooperation, positioning science in the 'quadruple helix' (university, industry, government, public environment/civic society) with an emphasis on system, symbiosis, and synergy. This interconnected approach, linking initiatives like Convergence and the Culture Campus, has the potential to redefine the university's role in collaborative innovation.

Prof. Borras brings a unique scholar-activist perspective to the Erasmus Professorship, aligning seamlessly with the collaborative ethos nurtured by Prof. Buijzen and Prof. Crone. His methodological focus on a community-oriented and inherently collectivist approach perfectly echoes the team science philosophy. Prof. Borras goes out of his way to underline the communal nature of his work, attributing both successes and challenges to the broader community rather than personal achievement. This strongly resonates with the Erasmian values of diversity, inclusiveness, and equality.

In sync with Prof. Buijzen and Prof. Borras's collaborative spirit, Prof. Crone's work at the Erasmus SYNC lab is a testament to her dedication to societal engagement and transdisciplinary research. An exemplary initiative under Prof. Crone's guidance is YoungXperts, employing living labs and citizen science to explore young people's unique qualities and societal roles. This initiative vividly demonstrates Prof. Crone's commitment to community involvement in scientific research, embodying Erasmian Values of inclusiveness and engagement.

A lasting commitment to societal impact

As Prof. Borras takes his place alongside Prof. Crone and Prof. Buijzen, the Erasmus Professorship embodies a commitment to collaborative innovation, societal engagement, and the creation of enduring global communities. Together, they craft a narrative of impactful, inclusive, and innovative research, ensuring that EUR remains at the forefront of positive change, evolving with purpose to make a meaningful and lasting societal impact.

More information

More information about the Erasmus Professors can be found in this article:

Erasmus Professors

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