Associate Professor Federica Violi about the international environment and teaching critical thinking

Associate professor Federica Violi poses with a cup of coffee.
I really appreciate the initiatives of HR to try and build a community

Federica Violi

Associate Professor at Erasmus School of Law

“The working environment here is very international. I really enjoy that. Things are quite easy if you don’t speak Dutch as everything is bilingual. In fact, if I look at my department the majority is non-Dutch. HR has a lot of initiatives that aim at building a community and I appreciate this effort. They organize walking tours in the city, cooking classes, and facilitate a book club. These might just sound like leisure activities, but by cooking together you can also create connections that possibly lead to meaningful research collaborations.

I’m an Associate Professor in International Law and teaching is something that I genuinely love. An example of a course that I’m involved in is Public International Law. I noticed that students have difficulties understanding how this field is relevant in daily life and their practice as future lawyers. I strongly believe law should not be studied in isolation. That is why my team and I decided to redesign the course. We now start each lecture with a topic that dominates the news, say the climate crisis, and study this issue through the lens of international law. This way, students are better able to understand what something they perceive as abstract, like an international treaty, means in practice.

“At EUR there is a strong desire to make impact. For me that starts with encouraging critical thinking among students”

At EUR there is a strong desire to create societal impact. For me, that starts with building a solid theoretical basis and encouraging students to practice abstract and critical thinking. With that in mind, my colleagues and I always try to maintain a dialogue with institutional and societal partners to make sure our work is relevant and gets to the people who can enact actual change. The university has a few flagship research programs called Erasmus Initiatives. In these programs different faculties work together on present-day challenges. I’m a research associate in the Initiative for ‘Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity’. I have experienced first-hand how beneficial it can be to integrate different points of view on themes that are relevant to many.

I’m also part of FAME (Female Academics Moving towards Equity) which is the EUR’s academic network for women. As such, FAME gives feedback to the Diversity Office on gender-related issues and of course a lot can still be done to improve the position of women in academia. In this sense, an initiative at EUR that I particularly value is ‘25/25’. The aim is to support women who aspire to become associate or full professors. Participants create a portfolio that is assessed by an independent committee. They give you advice on steps you could take to move forward in your career and that can be quite helpful.”

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