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Big and small talk at the Young Academy Lunch

Bring together young academics from all disciplines: that, in a nutshell, is the mission of Young Academy Leiden. And this fledgling organisation is already proving to be somewhat of a success. This is evident at the first Young Academy Lunch at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Around 40 postdocs and assistant professors have come to the Pieter de la Court Building on Tuesday 29 October for a Faculty lunch organised by Young Academy Leiden (YAL). They engage in big and small talk as they seek out common ground, interdisciplinary links or just a good conversation.

Your own tribe

This is the second Young Academy Lunch since YAL’s inception at the start of the year. And like the successful previous edition at the Faculty of Science, the young academics are very interested in one another’s research. ‘You tend to stay within your own tribe,’ says Jochanan Veerbeek, Assistant Professor of Education and Child Studies. ‘That’s what I want to avoid. My PhD was in psychology, and it would be nice to keep in touch with that group. Then we can do interdisciplinary research and teaching. Meetings like this definitely help.’

Encourage interdisciplinarity

That is exactly the intention, says Tom Louwerse in the opening speech. He is Chair of YAL and Associate Professor of Political Science. ‘We want to encourage interdisciplinarity between faculties and institutes. That’s why we have instated a 444 Grant for interdisciplinary activities. We also want to be a platform that collects the worries, needs and expectations of young researchers, so that we can influence academic policy.’

Ideal position for change

Dean of the Faculty, Paul Wouters, also expresses his admiration for the initiative during the lunch. ‘On behalf of the Faculty Board, I can only applaud this meeting for young academics. It’s our aim to move with the times with research that is relevant to important discussions in society. We can undoubtedly achieve this together. Because you may be successful within the present system, but you are also in the ideal position to make changes to it.’

Interaction between research and society

At the lunch, the young academics are given post-it notes on which to write down their needs. ‘Through the lunches, we hope to hear about what young academics are facing,’ says YAL member Anouk Goemans, Assistant Professor of Education and Child Studies and one of the organisers of the event. ‘In the long term, we also want to hold a number of meetings on specific themes, such as science communication or grant options, for instance. And I think it’s a challenge to think about how we can encourage interaction between research and society. We’re already working with Studium Generale on a series of lectures, for example.

About Young Academy Leiden

Young Academy Leiden (YAL) is the local equivalent of the national Young Academy at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. The first 13 members of this club for young academics will bombard the Executive Board of the University with fresh ideas about research, teaching, policy and contact with society.

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