World's shortest lecture and a big university campaign
Last week, professor Liesbeth Enneking from Erasmus School of Law gave a few scientific lectures. Not in a classroom, but in the streets of downtown Rotterdam and at the Erasmus Bridge. They were the shortest lectures given ever, lasting about fifteen minutes, and every passer-by could join.
‘Can we still shop unconcerned?’ she asked the audience. Enneking’s scope of research is how law and social questions about inequity are related, the worldwide circumstances in which consumer products are produced, and who is to take responsibility for that. ‘We need to do something in order to keep people from buying those cheap t-shirts, since elsewhere in the world a thousand people die when a factory collapses while producing those t-shirts.’
Who takes on the challenge?
Enneking’s lectures in the streets of Rotterdam do not stand on their own. They are part of a big campaign Erasmus University Rotterdam and Erasmus Trustfonds jointly launched on 8 November. Challenge Accepted is about what we can we do to generate sustainable and inclusive prosperity. About how can we strive for smarter and better healthcare. About how can we maintain strong, vital communities in growing urban areas. Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to tackle the big challenges of the 21st century by connecting alumni, students and academics, their experiences and research. Enneking is an example of an academic that has already accepted the challenge.
Money, support and collaboration
One of the ambitions of Challenge Accepted is to have created an endowment fund of € 100 million by 2025, similar to endowment funds at English and American universities. Donors in Rotterdam have already contributed a total of more than € 26 million to this end. The return of the fund will be used for multidisciplinary research, for collaboration between universities and for inviting international professors. Although press attention (for example NOS, Volkskrant, Algemeen Dagblad and Quotenet) was mainly focused on the financial donations, immaterial support and collaboration is of equal importance. Challenges this huge can only be tackled by working together and by creating a strong network and a place for multidisciplinary research. Therefore EUR initiated EUR Connect, an online community for alumni, students, academics and friends. The university wants to build a network as has been done by the University of Oxford, to facilitate people in sharing insights, ideas, time and data.