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Maartje van der Woude: 'VIVA400 nomination is acknowledgement and incentive'

Each year Dutch women’s magazine VIVA draws up a list of creative and enterprising women. This year our alumna and Professor of Law and Society Maartje van der Woude has been nominated. The award ceremony is on 15 November.

You are an alumna of Leiden Law School. When did you graduate and what was your specialization?

"I graduated in 2002, after completing my doctorate (what it was called then) between 1998 and 2001 and specializing in the law of criminal procedure between 2001 and 2002. In addition to the standard curriculum, I took various extra courses in the area of immigration law, forensic psychiatry and criminalistics. Besides my degree in law, between 2002 and 2005 I also did a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Criminology (master Security Policy) at Leiden. As part of my Criminology degree I spent six months studying at the University of Texas in Austin."

How did your time at Leiden prepare you and contribute to what you are doing now and how you approach your work?

"My time at Leiden made me who I am today. In all areas, so not only in my intellectual development through my studies, but also in my social and personal development - moving away from home, meeting new people here and abroad and learning about myself as a result.  My time as a student gave me confidence because I learned how I could express myself better, both speaking and writing, but also because I had all sorts of opportunities during my studies which contributed to my development. For example, for a long time I worked at the Children and Youth  Legal Advice Centre in The Hague and Rotterdam, I was able to study abroad and generally constantly quench my thirst for more knowledge about the world in which the law operates, or perhaps doesn’t operate. Through this, I developed a broad and well-grounded vision of the law in different societies and because of my good verbal and written skills (at that time I was known as the ‘Leiden mouth’!), I wasn’t afraid to express my opinion."

The VIVA400 awards are partly based on the innovative way a candidate thinks and works. What is innovative about your research?

"I think this relates to what I said before about developing a broad perspective and not being afraid to enter into discussions. When I am doing research, I obviously find it very important that my colleagues in this field of work, my peers, value my research and recognise its quality and that I get my work published in quality journals. This latter point is also very important because to a large extent this is how the performance of researchers is ‘judged’. In order to develop further in the academic world, you have to have a good track record when it comes to publications. But I think it is equally important, and have always thought so, that the outcomes of my research also reach the target group and the field of practice in which and for which I conduct research. To achieve this, I have always been a researcher who is publicly engaged, and who does not merely make conclusions and judgements from her ivory tower, but is constantly in communication with her research subjects and research matter. I think that as researchers working at universities, we have an important responsibility to be actively visible in the society we are studying.  This is not something that all researchers are comfortable with, but I see it as my duty. And most certainly, when it comes to the topics I am dealing with where there are so many opinions and emotions: migration, terror and border controls."

The VIVA400 awards are visible to a different target group than the Heineken Young Scientists Award. To what extent do you think the nomination and hopefully winning the VIVA400 award will help you?

"I am very honoured to have won the Heineken Young Scientist Award in the Humanities. I still actually find it hard to believe I won! This has been the crowning achievement for my work so far, a true recognition, and something I am very proud of.  That award, and also this nomination, are a very important acknowledgement and incentive for me to continue in the way I work: the basis is good, sound scientific research, the results of which are not just shared with the usual academic gremia, but also actively with society and professional practice."

Click here to vote for the VIVA400 award (before 6 November!)

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