Erik-Jan Zurcher at the helm of LIAS
From 1 June onwards, Erik-Jan Zurcher, professor of Turkish Studies, will be the new academic director of the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS). We asked him about his plans.
‘First and foremost, my mission is to enhance the feeling of mutual confidence and trust and to make clear that the management team, the members, and the different programmes that we offer together, are all working towards the same goals. LIAS has been through a critical time and must become financially healthy again; we have to work hard to make sure this happens. Trust and solid finances form the foundation on which people strive for good education and research. For many years, individual LIAS researchers have been very successful in attracting research projects. However, LIAS must become more than just a working space for successful researchers: it will need to generate added value by having all our specialists in the areas of Asia and the Middle East (that are not found elsewhere in the Netherlands) work together beyond the different regions in order to tackle new and exciting questions.’ To achieve this, the faculty has also appointed a director of research: Prof. Nira Wickramasinghe. Over the coming years she will work on structuring the research profile of LIAS.