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Stolker: ‘Scholars are people with not only insights but also doubts’

What is the role of academia in solving societal problems such as the corona crisis? Rector Magnificus Carel Stolker spoke about this at the opening of the academic year on 31 August.

According to Stolker, politicians and the public constantly look to universities during major societal crises, but they sometimes fail to appreciate that academic research takes time and does not always give ready-made answers. Scholars are people with not only insights but also doubts, Stolker said at the opening of the academic year

‘This is precisely what makes us, universities and scholars, so exhausting for politicians and the general public – and at times for ourselves, too,’ Stolker said to the audience listening both in Pieterskerk and online. “You’re supposed to be the experts, aren’t you?” society sometimes asks, with more than a touch of despair. Just tell us what’s going on with all those aerosols, whether or not we should be wearing face masks and what effect warm weather has on a virus. This mandate from society – to make progress, to get on with resolving all the major issues facing the world – combined with the fact that research simply takes a long time means that universities are places where people work very hard. In fact, they work much too hard […]. Workplace stress is an issue that will be high on our agenda in the coming year.’

Read the full speech by Carel Stolker.

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