Universiteit Leiden

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Centre for the Arts in Society

LUCAS assessment 2018

To safeguard the quality of research within Leiden University, a committee of external experts evaluates the University’s institutes once every six years according to the Standard Evaluation Protocol which is drawn up by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and the Netherlands Organisation for Academic Research (NWO).

The assessment of Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) took place at the end of 2018. In preparation of this, the institute wrote a self-assessment report. During the site visit in October 2018  an international review committee, consisting of prof.dr. Shearer West, prof.dr. Katlijne Van der Stighelen, prof.dr. Max Liljefors, prof.dr. Remco Sleiderink and prof.dr. Richard Hunter, spoke with members from several sections within the institute. The committee wrote a report based on the self-assessment and their findings during that site visit.

The assessment of LUCAS became a joint venture to which all members of the institute contributed: from supplying research output to participating in discussions with the committee and celebrating the preliminary results after the site visit. The assessment report has now been written and all the hard work is recognized by the committee. This page contains a summary of the results; the full report and the response by the LUCAS Management Team can be downloaded at the right-hand side of this page.


The review committee is of the opinion that LUCAS has consistently advanced in the direction of a diverse, though coherent institute, which is well-led. The committee feels that the overarching search for the ‘arts in society’ with interdisciplinary approaches has led to a recognizable community that is acknowledged by its members as such. Members of the committee observed that “staff and PhD candidates are working together to build a sense of community, with mutual support, embracing serendipity and sharing good practice”. In addition, the committee noticed a strengthened governance structure since the external review in 2012.


The research within the institute was positively assessed on the three assessment criteria: research quality, relevance to society, and viability.

Research quality

The review committee assessed the overall research quality of LUCAS to be ‘very good’. The quality and quantity of the academic output of LUCAS is, according to the committee, “impressive overall” and national and international academic impact is “good and promising”. The members noted that researchers publish in high ranking journals and write significant scholarly books. 

Relevance to society

The overall relevance to society of LUCAS is assessed to be ‘very good’ as well. The committee notes that the objective to be relevant not only for the advancement of academic knowledge, but also for society at large, is already apparent in the institute’s name of ‘arts in society’. The staff appear to be committed to this mission, according to the committee. It states: “They [the staff] frequently undertake public outreach, in a variety of ways and for audiences with very different backgrounds”. The committee confirms that there are already some excellent examples of relevance to society accomplished.


The committee assessed the overall viability of LUCAS to be ‘good’. Although it recognizes the problem that PhD supervision is part of the 20% research time, the committee concludes: “Notwithstanding some hard funding conditions, LUCAS has made successful efforts to mitigate the problems caused by a system outside its control by introducing a workload model that rationalizes and objectifies the workload”. Due to measures like this, the committee is convinced of the quality of LUCAS’ leadership.


Diversity is mentioned multiple times in the report. The committee recognizes a welcome attention to diversity in LUCAS, particularly around gender, but less in relation to ethnicity. Besides that, diversity is seen in disciplines and research themes within the institute. This is also reflected in the subjects of the PhD theses and the committee therefore sees the opportunity to benefit from this diversity by bringing PhD candidates together in new and different ways.

LUCAS is very pleased with the outcome of the assessment. The hard work of all members of the institute has been rewarded with this review and the committee gave some useful recommendations to strengthen the institute. In the coming time, the LUCAS management team will work on putting  the recommendations of the assessment report into practice, in consultation with the Advisory Board. All in all, the MT would like to thank everyone who contributed to this positive outcome and is confident that, working together, we can do even better in the future.

More information about research assessments at Leiden University (including reports of previous assessments) can be found here; the LUCAS documents will be added soon.

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