Outcome Midterm Review Vital Cities and Citizens (VCC)

In November last year, the three Erasmus Initiatives (EIs) have been evaluated through a midterm review by an external committee of international experts from academia, government and business sector. VCC is one of the EIs. For this purpose, a midterm review report was written by each of the EI-program teams. The committee reviewed each EI separately and gave some recommendations for their further development and improvement. These recommendations will guide the prolongment of the EIs, until 2024.

VCC set as example

Overall, the external committee showed its appreciation for the instigation of the EI, by stating: “We believe that the EIs have set an example that could, or maybe should, be followed by other schools and universities. It has been worthwhile to set aside a small fraction of the university budget to ensure schools work together more effectively and foster interdisciplinary research with societal impact.”

For VCC, the committee appreciated VCC for being “a high performing EI in terms of both funded research projects and publications.” VCC manages to use the EUR’s investments effectively in use of levering in large externally funded research awards. With regard to its substantial progress, the committee highly values VCC’s ‘position paper’ for a) deepening of interdisciplinarity, b) positioning of VCC among other similar ‘cities’ research initiatives, and c) providing it with a clear focus on ‘vitality’ and its multiple dimensions. The committee concludes that such an endeavour may be a useful practice that could be adopted by other EIs.

Committee recommendations

The committee acknowledges an important added value of VCC to create a sense of purpose within the community which leads to higher visibility and better positioning of staff in the research funding landscape in the Netherlands and internationally. As such VCC, provides an externally-facing gateway to Erasmus University’s ‘cities’ research which could be enhanced by allocating additional time and resources for academics to apply for research grants, engage in public debates, partner with stakeholders, and maximize the benefits of inter-disciplinary research and its societal impacts.

The recommendations of the committee for VCC suggest to 1) improve the coherence between the different activities (PhD and postdoc-projects with the sub-themes), 2) invite both scholars and practitioners to submit proposals for open calls within VCC, 3) provide more openness for external scholars and practitioners to temporarily co-work on VCC research, 4) improve its connection to the city of Rotterdam as testbed for research-based societal impact and connect effectively to Convergence collaboration (Delft University of Technology and EMC) regarding Resilient Delta initiative, and 5) further develop a grounded approach to engage stakeholders and professional organizations in the Rotterdam area and internationally (with other cities and universities).  

Vital Cities and Citizens

With the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to help improve the quality of life in cities. In vital cities, the population can achieve their life goals through education, useful work and participation in public life. The vital city is a platform for creativity and diversity, a safe meeting place for different social groups. The researchers involved focus on one of the four sub-themes:

•    Inclusive Cities and Diversity
•    Resilient Cities and People
•    Smart Cities and Communities 
•    Sustainable and Just Cities

VCC is a collaboration between Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and International Institute of Social Studies (ISS).