Universiteit Leiden

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Studying the Societal Challenges of Our Time

'There are far too few networking events for young scholars, even though they are eager to attend them;' states Judi Mesman, Dean of Leiden University College (LUC). On Wednesday 7 March, Judi Mesman organised the 'Interdisciplinary Networking Event for Young Scholars', a networking event specifically aimed at postdocs and assistant/associate professors from all disciplines and faculties of Leiden University.

The event focussed on creating connections between different scientific disciplines in order to more effectively study the four big social challenges of our age (Diversity, Prosperity, Peace & Justice, and Sustainability). Over 60 young researchers from seven of the university's faculties gathered to brainstorm about interdisciplinary cooperation.

New ideas for cooperation

The event was organised as a response to various related and ongoing discussions within the academic community regarding the importance of interdisciplinary scientific cooperation – and opportunities to study the big social challenges of this age. The participants were challenged to connect their own research projects to those of fellow scientists in several different sessions. By having to look for similarities, even though at first glance the projects appeared to be miles apart, new ideas for cooperation emerged. A good way to connect the various disciplines with each other. 'This set up worked very well and the participants were very enthusiastic. I will definitely be organising more of these networking events in the future!' - Judi Mesman.

Sustainable Livelihood

At the end of the day, the teachers of LUC's Africa Field Course gave a presentation on their successful interdisciplinary cooperation while developing and running this new course. During the course students studied the problem of 'Sustainable Livelihood' in East Africa from a public administrative, ecological, and anthropological angle. They were even given the opportunity to put various research methods into practice on field trips in both the Netherlands and Africa.

 An example of interdisciplinary cooperation the academic world would like to see more of.

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