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Spring 2014


Open Campus Festival Gift to the city Philosopher in the community

erasmus alumni magazine

Enthusiastic bridge-builder A day in the life of Marianne Vorthoren

north sea JaZZ Festival 11 • 12 • 13 Juli 2014

Pharrell Williams • stevie Wonder • outkast • robin thicke • Joss stone nile rodgers & chic • Paloma Faith • gregory Porter • ibrahim maalouF darryl hall & John oates • the daPtone suPer soul revue • mavis staPles booker t Jones • vieux Farka touré • kenny garrett Quartet • al Jarreau mehliana fT. brad mehldau & mark guiliana • snarky PuPPy & Friends • kaPok sohn • dirty looPs • benJamin clementine • the internet • takuya kuroda allen stone • giovanca • bo saris • natalie cole • stacey kent and many more

het nieuwe hart van de campus! borrel workshop lunch diner vergaderen congres

foto campus: Erick Fecken foto Erasmus Paviljoen: Christan van der Kooy


Foreword Spring 2014


Pauline van der Meer Mohr, Chairman of the Executive Board of Erasmus University Rotterdam

I recently opened the 35th anniversary conference of Cedo Nulli, the study association of the Faculty of Social Sciences. It celebrated its anniversary with a conference entitled ‘Long live differences. The power of diversity?’ A provocative subject to which it was probably no accident that a question mark was added, given the discussion in society about diversity. Because is diversity such a blessing after all? As Chairman of the executive board of a university with a very diverse student and staff population, I would venture to say it is. Or, as I said in my opening speech at the conference: ‘It is precisely because you are different that I want you here.’ Erasmus University Rotterdam is celebrating its centenary this academic year, and can look back at a century in which we underwent the transformation from college of Economics to university with a broad, diverse range of programmes and fields of research. It certainly hasn’t done us any harm. The days in which you only heard Dutch on the campus are long gone, and the chances are increasing that you’ll hear English, Chinese, Spanish, Greek and Bulgarian are no longer the exception either. All signs that the University is heading in the right direction when it comes to internationalization. Each year, the University attracts more foreign students than the previous one for its Master’s programmes, a compliment in these times of fierce competition between universities. One of the most important pillars in the new Strategic Plan 20142018, Impact & Relevance, which the Executive Board recently presented, was the internationalization of its teaching and research. The opportunities for growth and excellence are increasingly coming to lie in collaboration with colleagues from abroad. This is probably nothing new to you as an alumnus, because this edition of ea. once again provides a snapshot of how diverse, creative, enterprising and successful our alumni are, both at home and abroad. With a heart for Rotterdam and an eye to the world.



Pauline van der Meer Mohr You can follow me on Twitter: @PvdMM

Colophon The Erasmus Alumni Magazine/ EA is published by the Marketing & Communication Department of Erasmus University Rotterdam. EA is sent free of charge to alumni of the EUR who are registered in the Erasmus Alumni Database. Register via If you have moved, please inform the alumni office EA has a circulation of 36,000.

A Dutch and English pdf can be found on Edition Volume 4, ea. 8, May 2014 The next edition of EA will be published in October 2014 Editorial Address EUR, SM&C Dept. PO Box 1738 3000 DR Rotterdam

04 erasmusalumni. magazine Managing Editor Carien van der Wal, Alumni & Corporate Relations Officer Editors Wieneke Gunneweg, Editor-in-Chief Mieke Fiers, Desk Editor Contributors Maarten Frens, Ronald van den Heerik, Marcel Kentin, Eveline van de Lagemaat, René van Leeuwen,

José Luijpen, Geert Maarse, Josja van der Maas, Pauline van der Meer Mohr, Dennis Mijnheer, Sanne van der Most, Hans van den Tillaart, Nathan Vos, Sjoerd Wielenga, Levien Willemse, Carien van der Wal, EUR faculties, including Erasmus MC, IHS and ISS Advertisements Carien van der Wal, Armin Firouzi Wahdaty

Design Unit 20: Yoe San Liem and Maud van Velthoven Editorial Advisory Board (RAC) The RAC comprises representatives of the EUR’s faculties and alumni associations and has an advisory role with regard to the production of EA. Cover Levien Willemse

New printer EA has a new printing company: OBT of The Hague. OBT employs a carbon-neutral printing process to print the alumni magazine. Translation University Translation and Correction Service, University of Groningen Language Centre © Erasmus University Rotterdam No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written consent of the publishers.

Contents 06 Back to college 09 Erasmus news 11 Column: Maarten Frens 12 A day in the life of Marianne Vorthoren 18 In the news in 2000–2001 20 Focus on research 22 Science festival 24 Why Rotterdam? 26 Gift to the city 26 Skill City Rotterdam


31 Column: Nathan Vos 33 From Rotterdam to Sweden 34 Alumni affairs 38 Alumni diary 39 Family portrait



erasmusalumni. magazine 05

Back to college

Jurn Kerkkamp: ‘Much to my delight, I was assigned my old student registration number, 1288, upon returning here.’

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‘I can take my time’ Jurn Kerkkamp (61) studied Medicine in the 1970s, and is now studying for a Master’s degree in Philosophy. He is combining the two disciplines in his thesis on ‘postmodern medicine’. ‘Doctors no longer look at the body but at the patient’s “profile”.’

text René van Leeuwen photo Ronald van den Heerik

Has the University changed much? ‘Definitely, not least in its appearance. When I studied there, Campus Hoboken was a great deal smaller. We had that big white tower, the “fridge” as it was known then, and that was it more or less. Now practically a whole city has been built up around it.’

‘I already took some Philosophy courses as a medical student in the 1970s’ And aside from its appearance? ‘There is much more control from above. In my day you were under pressure as a student, but that was more from yourself. You wanted to do well in your studies and consequently worked hard and studied all day. Now there are slogans such as “nominaal is normaal” and measures such as the BSA. It’s also more impersonal. At least, that’s the general message I get from students; I don’t particularly notice it myself. I’m studying part-time for this Master’s degree, and can take my time, which makes it different for me, of course.’ Fancy studying again? Different EUR faculties and institutes offer postgraduate teaching. See, for example, and onderwijs.

Why did you choose Philosophy? ‘A small group of us already took Philosophy courses when I studied here in the 1970s. We had a culture of reading and thinking. We had just had the student protests, and society was extremely critical, so you were critical too. I therefore wanted to take the few courses that there were that allowed you to be critical.’

Does Philosophy suit a physician? ‘I think so. The positivist approach is very dominant in my discipline. If people have a complaint, there must be something wrong with their bodies. If nothing is found, many doctors tell them they’re not ill. I don’t think that’s the whole story though, particularly not if the complaint persists. I then wonder if there’s more at hand, and think we should therefore try to look beyond “the photo” and more at the whole picture.’ Do you manage to achieve this? ‘By no means always. It’s a bit of a fight against the prevailing mentality, and that always causes conflict. I no longer practise, because I’ve got a bad back.’ But Philosophy and Medicine still keep you busy? ‘Most certainly. In my thesis, I’m using Foucault to look at transformations in the way we perceive illness. I think the tipping point was around 2000. Doctors no longer look at the patient’s body but only at his “profile”, which is based on all sorts of criteria, algorithms and procedures. If you don’t fit these profiles, there’s no solution for your complaint. Postmodern medicine.’ What’s your ambition? ‘To read, think and ruminate a lot. To continue studying at a steady pace. With my old student registration number, 1288, which I was assigned again, much to my delight, when I returned to the University.’ Author René van Leeuwen graduated from the EUR in 2013 in Sociology of Work, Organization and Management. Ronald van den Heerik studied Philosophy at the EUR between 1979 and 1983.

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The RSM Leadership Summit gives you the opportunity to meet the world’s most influential senior executives, and to network and interact with the entire RSM community – alumni, students, VIPs, corporate relations, faculty and staff. Don’t miss it! RSM.NL/SUMMIT

To explore your opportunities with big data, save the date! Friday 3 October 2014, Rotterdam


Erasmus news

ea. calls...

Lex Burdorf Lex Burdorf, hoogleraar Determinanten van Volksgezondheid aan het Erasmus MC, houdt op 28 mei de Rotterdam Lezing 2014, over gezondheidsverschillen in Rotterdam. ea. belt met hem. Why do people from one district live longer than people from another? ‘The biggest differences are in the demographics of the people who live in the district. What is most significant for your life expectancy is whether you have a job and whether you are poor.’ But does the district itself have an effect as well? ‘Yes, the air pollution in Overschie, for example. But social cohesion in the district also has an effect: it has a positive effect on the inhabitants’ health.’ So we’re healthier if we live in a district with a sense of community? ‘In the research, which was in collaboration with the GGD Rotterdam Public Health Service, we looked at the symptoms of depression. The greatest positive effect was visible in the unemployed and the poor. If you have problems and feel supported by your community, this appears to be beneficial for your health.’ Rotterdam Lecture, 28 May at 8 p.m., Bibliotheek Theater (Library Theatre) Rotterdam.

BRING IT ON - Reinier Spillenaar Bilgen (front) and Jasper Tissen, rowers in the coxless pairs at the Skadi Rotterdam student rowing association, training on the Willem-Alexander Baan. In just three short months they will be competing here against student rowers from all over Europe at the European Universities Games 2014. The Games will take place in Rotterdam between 24 July and 8 August 2014. Alongside rowing, there will be table tennis, handball, futsal, tennis, rugby 7s, basketball, volleyball, football and badminton. The student athletes will come from 32 countries. (Photo: Ronald van den Heerik) EUGames still needs volunteers to help out at the event. More information at or mail

EUR-alumni relatively satisfied Alumni from the Erasmus University

Sport for old and young Judo, football, tennis, rowing, korfball and chess in teams of the old and the young: that’s what the Generation Games are all about. Each team has representations of at least two generations. The EUR is holding the event on Saturday 24 May, with demonstrations by famous sportsmen and women. The EUR is also holding an open day and Science Festival on the same day. Read more about the Science Festival on page 22.

Rotterdam are relatively satisfied with their degree and earn significantly more than alumni from other universities. These are the results of the WO-monitor, a national survey of recent graduates conducted by the Association of Universities in the Netherlands. About 80 percent of the Rotterdam alumni would choose the same degree programme at the same university; this figure is 75 percent nationally. And whereas the national average gross monthly salary of alumni is 2576 euros, that of Rotterdam alumni is 3178 euros.

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Erasmus news Witteveen bust for EUR The Erasmus University Rotterdam has been presented with a bust of Johan Witteveen to mark its centenary. Witteveen (1921) attended the EUR’s predecessor, the Nederlandse Economische Hogeschool, studied for his PhD (cum laude) under Jan Tinbergen and became a professor at the age of 27. He went on to become Minster of Finance and the top man at the International Monetary Fund. The bronze by sculptor Constance Wibaut was donated by Witteveen’s son, Raoul Witteveen, who studied General Economics and Business Economics at the EUR. The bust was presented on 6 March, in the presence of Johan Witteveen and his family. (Photo: Michelle Muus)

The student days of... Laura van Geest Advertentie

‘She’s a natural free thinker’ They are now in the spotlight, but what were they like in the lecture hall? ea. takes a look at the student days of famous EUR alumni. This time: director of the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (Centraal Plan Bureau; CPB) Laura van Geest.

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She began with General Economics, and after taking a course in Public Administration, Laura van Geest decided to do this as an additional degree. She also worked part-time on the PTT’s 0800 information line. ‘Extraordinarily well organized’, is what Frans van Nispen, her thesis supervisor in Public Administration, says of Van Geest. She also did ‘student stuff’, Van Geest says herself. She was a member of the Economics Faculty Association and the Internationaal Economisch Dispuut, and sat on the board of the Staatkundig Economisch Dispuut. However, partying and drinking weren’t her thing, fellow student Lucie Kern remembers. ‘It never really interested her.’ Kern and Van Geest know each other from the small group of students studying General Economics. The two shared a room on a study trip to Budapest, and they still see each other regularly. ‘She thanked more than 30 people in her thesis, including her fellow students’, says Jean-Marie Viaene, who together with Casper de Vries supervised her thesis in General Economics, a very good thesis in which she combined theory with empirical research. ‘She was incredibly motivated and didn’t shy away from the most difficult literature, for example.’ Van Nispen, who has recently been in regular contact with her, says she stood out from the

Column Maarten Frens

Three universities, one Bachelor’s programme Erasmus University, together with the universities of Delft and Leiden, will be offering a Bachelor’s programme in Clinical Technology from September 2014. It is the first Bachelor’s programme from Medical Delta, a partnership of the three universities. The programme will combine medicine and medical technology. Much of the teaching will take place in Delft, with practicals and patient demonstrations in Leiden and Rotterdam.

Vaccination clinic for alumni too If you need a vaccination or a travel-health consultation, you can combine this with a visit to your alma mater, because the Erasmus MC has a vaccination clinic at Rochussenstraat and Campus Woudestein. There are no waiting lists (phone today, come in tomorrow) and there is an open surgery twice a week outside office hours.

crowd. ‘She’s a natural free thinker, an extraordinary personality, particularly in bureaucratic circles.’ Kern says she has ‘the unusual combination’ of being opinionated and diplomatic. ‘And above all, she’s incredibly intelligent.’ It does not surprise her that she has made it this far, although an international job would have been the obvious choice. Her thesis for Economics was about exchange rates and for Public Administration – by that time she was already working at the Ministry of Finance – about the IMF. The data that she used for it did not provide the result she had hoped for, says Van Geest; a lesson that still helps her at the CPB.

She’s opinionated, diplomatic and above all incredibly intelligent fellow student Lucie Kern

She emphasizes how much her degrees have helped her. ‘Economics is mainly about being right, whereas Public Administration is about the reality of how you manage to prove you’re right.’

A fitting career When it was my turn to decide what to study, I couldn’t choose between Dutch, Musicology, Medicine and Physics. It wasn’t a question of being unable to choose but rather that my interests were very broad. Luckily, I also have a brain that would allow me to thrive in any of these. When I could no longer postpone my decision, Medical Biology topped my list, so that was the one I chose. A career of many years as a brain researcher, what is known as a ‘fitting career’ for my degree, followed this almost casual, accidental decision as a seventeen-year-old. I don’t represent the norm here. More than half of the academics don’t end up doing what their degree prepared them for. The percentage is even higher with very specific degrees. Although I never regretted my decisions, I would most certainly have flourished at a university college. Which is why I consider it a great honour to have recently been able to take the helm of the Erasmus University College, as founding dean (which, by the way, does not fit with my degree). The Erasmus University College (EUC) offers talented students an international three-year Bachelor’s programme in Liberal Arts & Sciences. A key element of this is that the student has a great degree of freedom in assembling a package of course units based on his (or usually her) interests or knowledge, a classical system that has been borrowed from respected Anglo-Saxon universities. The EUC also places a firm emphasis on academic skills such as writing, disputing and debating. We therefore do not train students for a ‘fitting career’. We could decide what they should specialize in, but the world is changing and diversifying at such a rate that it would be impossible to train them in time. We therefore take a different approach: we train them as generalists with a broad knowledge and sharp skills who can rapidly immerse themselves in any conceivable problem. With such an armoury and flexibility, they will ‘fit’ many professions: from brain researcher to founding dean of a university college. Maarten Frens (1966) is Professor of Systems Physiology and Founding Dean of the Erasmus University College, which started this academic year.

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A day in the life of Marianne Vorthoren

Alumna Marianne Vorthoren

Hard on facts soft on people

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The representative of Rotterdam’s Muslim community is a Dutch woman. Marianne Vorthoren chose Islam whilst studying for her degree in Public Administration. A day in the life of an enthusiastic bridge-builder. text Geert Maarse photo Levien Willemse

Marianne Vorthoren (1978) is director of the Rijnmond Platform for Islamic Organizations (Stichting Platform Islamitische Organisaties Rijnmond; SPIOR). This umbrella organization, comprising eight permanent staff members and a handful of interns, represents the majority of the mosques and a large number of organizations with a specific focus on young people, women and social-cultural development. Vorthoren was born in Rotterdam, grew up in Bergschenhoek and studied Public Administration at the Faculty of Social Sciences between 1996 and 2006.

Nobody knows exactly how many different nationalities it has, but Rotterdam is estimated to have more than 170, putting it on a par with cities such as London and New York. This is why it is called the laboratory city of the Netherlands. It is vibrant, diverse and multicultural, but there is a flipside: lack of understanding, crime and socioeconomic disadvantage. Problems, some might say. Challenges, is what they say at the organization that represents 66 Islamic organizations from the Rijnmond region. It is still dark above the desks in the SPIOR offices. Only the UV lights above secretary Bilhan’s desk are on. It is just before nine, and Marianne Vorthoren is at the long conference table in the middle of the room bending over two flip-over sheets that have been joined together. She has listed a number of options with a black pen. Are you male or female? Old or young? Do you live in Rotterdam or outside the city? Do your parents come from the Netherlands or another country? Do you like football or not? She is giving a guest lecture at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences. On diversity. She often uses this trick at such presentations, because what becomes apparent is that we constantly overestimate the variety in those around us. Whether this means friends or colleagues, the likelihood is great that political leanings, level of education and religion are very similar. Pillarization has ended, but we rarely let the unknown get too close. Even in a city like Rotterdam.   erasmusalumni. magazine 13

A day in the life of Marianne Vorthoren

Austere office block The headquarters of SPIOR are on the third floor of an austere office block on the Teilingerstraat in RotterdamNoord. White plasterboard ceilings, simple blue chairs. ‘Our aim is to promote Muslim participation in Dutch society’, says Vorthoren, as she produces coffee. ‘It’s a fantastic thing to do. One minute I’m at the town hall or a ministry, the next at Oxfam Novib or a mosque. Never a dull moment.’ She started working there a week before 11 September 2001, the date (and she will mention it a number of times during the day) that drastically changed the public debate on Muslims in the Netherlands. She has now been director for more than two years. She regularly has to engage in firefighting: the row about Muslim boarding schools in Rotterdam, the commotion about foster child Yunus. Then she is just like a press officer: the spokesperson for Rotterdam’s Muslim community. Although she sometimes has to do this, it is not a role she relishes. She prefers to work on one of the long-term projects, such as reducing early school leaving, getting street gangs on the right track or tackling the pressure to marry, and, more broadly, on promoting the dialogue between different groups. Which means: talk, talk and yet more talk. Today as well.

Spokesperson of Rotterdam’s Muslim community: a role she has to assume, but not one she relishes. Citizenship The men from the Muslim broadcasting company are somewhat late (‘that’s what you get with them Muslims’, Vorthoren jokes). They are coming for an item on Islamic religious education at primary schools, a service that SPIOR offers throughout the country. ‘The state secretary wanted to abolish it last year’, says Vorthoren. ‘One of the arguments was that if you were really interested in Catholicism, Humanism or Islam, you would go to a special school. But religious education is perhaps as important as language and arithmetic; the Dutch House of Representatives thought so too. It’s about citizenship.’ The film team lugs in the equipment and Vorthoren – brown jacket, pink striped headscarf and a girlish, make-up free face – asks questions and makes a few jokes. She throws herself into the ‘filler shots’ (listening, walking, talking) that

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need to be taken, but once the equipment has been turned off, is just as comfortable switching to a professional tone: ‘Will there be another voiceover here or do I need to provide the background information as well?’ It is typical for the ease with which she can switch between different registers. She is sharp and analytical, but also open and flexible. She does not just tell you what she stands for on behalf of her organization; she also wants to hear what you think. If you tell her a story, she really listens. If she enters into a discussion, she does this almost voraciously. Not to win, but to get all viewpoints on the table.

Finishing her thesis It is almost eleven as we drive to the University of Applied Sciences. She normally goes everywhere by bike, but it would be cutting it too fine today. We therefore sit in her little silver Toyota with a big bag of liquorice beside the gear stick. Sugar, as she let slip earlier, is her only addiction: ‘If I find gelatine-free sweets, I immediately buy a whole supply.’ She was unsure about her first job at SPIOR, she says at the traffic lights on the ‘s Gravendijkwal. She was 23 and still a student. Admittedly, she only had to finish her thesis, but she had seen enough other students turn this into a five-year plan, which was something she wanted to avoid. She was justified in this fear, because it took four years before she graduated in the end. Cum laude though. She was a driven student, hyper-conscious in her quest to find her place in the world, her relationship to social issues. Of the 60 first-year students of Public Administration, she was one of the few to opt for the specialization in ‘policy and politics’. It gave her something to get her teeth into. A number of her fellow students were politically active and the discussions were fierce. A climate in which you could not just have an opinion but needed to base it on facts and study, even if you were talking about religion. She was brought up Protestant, but if she was to believe in something, she thought, she should do it with heart and soul rather than because that was what she inherited from her parents. She therefore threw herself with a passion into spiritual exploration. She re-read the Bible, followed lectures in Philosophy and discussed Hinduism with her driving instructor. That she finally chose Islam can be traced directly back to a trip to Istanbul (nice and cheap) that she organized for the Cedo Nulli study association. There she fell under the spell of the call to prayer that rang out from the minarets five times a day. And, let’s not beat about the bush, there was also her attraction to the Turkish medical student from Amsterdam, who had accompanied them to help out there.

Interview with the Muslim broadcasting company about Islamic religious education at primary schools, one of SPIOR’s services. ‘Religious education is perhaps as important as language and arithmetic. It’s about citizenship.’

At the guest lecture at the University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam. She gets groups of students to fill in her improvised diversity graph.

Visiting the Essalam Mosque in RotterdamZuid during Friday afternoon prayers.

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She has now, she says as she parks her small Toyota close to the Dijkzigt metro station, been married to him for almost 15 years.

Bags on the table The guest lecture is on the 11th floor of the University building. Vorthoren is given a warm welcome by a business administration lecturer in a trendy pinstripe suit, and they discuss last year’s session as they wait for the lift. The group was not particularly receptive, to put it mildly. I ask if she is nervous. ‘No’, she says cheerfully. The students – more than 70 of them, a mixture of Commercial Economics and Management, Economics and Law students – arrive in dribs and drabs with the typical postpubertal combination of boisterousness and moodiness. Bags on the table, coats on, the odd one slouched down, but as Vorthoren invites them to fill in her improvised diversity graph per group they join in enthusiastically. The multi-coloured criss-cross of lines that develops on the board is different from expected, and it is actually a diverse

‘Why would you deliberately offend someone?’ year. However much she may like to believe that diversity is also about income, age, personality and level of education, the discussion centres on culture and religion. It is fierce too. It starts off quietly: ‘Yes, it’s stating the obvious a bit, people.’ But the classroom – unconsciously divided into blond, white ethnic Dutch on the one hand and darkskinned other ethnic groups on the other – almost explodes when she arrives at opinions on religion at work. Should you be allowed to wear a headscarf if you have a public-facing job at the municipality? What about if a colleague wants to talk about Jesus during the whole break? A lad with gelled hair and a hoodie: ‘So you’re allowed to talk about football if you consider it important, but you need to leave your beliefs at home?’ A girl in a blue jacket and a flowery scarf: ‘You should keep those kinds of things to yourself.’ A bald lad with a Vandyck beard and denim jacket: ‘I believe in dancing, but I don’t go pirouetting on my desk, do I?’ She is good at this, say the people who work or have worked with Vorthoren. She is incredibly intelligent, socially too. She makes connections and enters into dialogue. She points to which student can say something next, asks questions, asks for calm if the words become too harsh or it gets

A day in the life of Marianne Vorthoren

personal. In the words of former councillor Jantine Kriens; ‘She’s hard on facts and soft on people. She’s able to get complicated subjects across in such a way that people with firm convictions begin to doubt them. Maybe this is because of her background: she has united everything in herself.’

Sometimes a fist bump too

Her desk is piled with files. ‘Never a dull moment.’

The lecture is nearing an end when the following short interjection occurs between Vorthoren and a number of students in the room: Student: ‘Do you shake anyone’s hand?’ Vorthoren: ‘I shake anyone’s hand who offers me theirs.’ Student: ‘Off your own bat too?’ Vorthoren, tentative: ‘Yes, I do.’ Student: ‘But?’ Vorthoren: ‘But what?’ Somewhere at the back: ‘Do you ever give a fist bump too?’ Vorthoren, once the laughter has subsided: ‘I offer most people my hand, but when I go to the mosque I do this.’ She nods her head slightly with her right hand on her heart. ‘In the Hindu temple and in the synagogue too. I show respect for the person I am greeting.’

The students may unconsciously have hit on the heart of the area of tension in Vorthoren’s world. It is not the handshake in itself, but the question of who adapts to whom. Is there such a thing as a dominant culture? Should everyone stick to these unwritten rules? And if not, how far do you go in accepting other customs, laws and rules? This friction reveals itself again when we visit the Essalam Mosque in Rotterdam-Zuid in the afternoon. They tend not to be too keen on the media here (journalists only go there if there is trouble), but we are allowed in in the wake of the SPIOR director, between the Friday afternoon prayers. We ask Vorthoren whether there is a strict division between men and women and she says it is not so bad, but once we are in the prayer room, where men stand or sit together in small groups, she stays noticeably close to the door. It is not a question of not being allowed, but why offend people on purpose?

School trip Back at the office, as we sit at her desk that is piled with files, I bring up her dilemma. Is it not difficult as an educated, white woman to represent a group that is dominated by not very enlightened ideas, relating, for example, to individual freedom, women and homosexuals? ‘I have regular discussions with politicians who ask: “Why can’t you just say: we don’t do it like that here in the Netherlands?” You can, but you won’t achieve anything like that. We have laws in this country and everyone must adhere to them. If you want to change behaviour, you must be able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes.’ She gives an example: ‘Imagine that the parents of a Moroccan girl won’t let her go on a school trip. You could get cross, but you could try to find the positive value behind this. They may want to protect her. They may want her only to deal with serious things at school because they want her to get on in life. This doesn’t mean that you can’t be critical, but your approach then is: we know you want the best for your child. I then say that another way might be possible. If you do that as sincerely as possible, you can achieve something.’ She smiles: ‘You can’t do this work if you don’t believe in change, but you do need patience.’ Geert Maarse studied Business Administration (2006) and General Cultural Sciences (2008) and did a Master’s degree in Media and Journalism (2009), the latter two at the Faculty of History and Arts (now Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, ESHCC). Levien Willemse studied Social History at the Faculty of History and Arts (now ESHCC) between 1981 and 1989.

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In the news in 2000-2001

Hanne Buis organized

Arwin van Buuren was

a big cross-association

assistant to the SGP party

student party

in Capelle aan den IJssel

ea. goes back in time and wonders: how are students who made the news in academic year 2000– 2001, the year Rotterdam was Cultural Capital doing now? text and photos Sanne van der Most

Hanne Buis 37, Law and Health Policy & Management What were you up to in 2000–2001? ‘I was on a committee of the Rotterdam Chamber of Associations. We organized a big party for all associations for Rotterdam Cultural Capital. Rather unique, because parties were nearly always linked solely to associations. We also organized a visit to De Doelen and a photo exhibition.’ How do you look back on that time? ‘It was a fantastic, carefree period in which anything was possible. Deciding in a club at night that you really wanted to go skiing, and then going home, loading your skis into the car and actually doing it.’

Sanne van der Most studied Private Law at the Erasmus School of Law. She graduated in 1999.

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What did you learn in Rotterdam? ‘To do and combine loads of things at the same time, and make sure that everything still runs smoothly. I also sailed at a high level during my studies, and we set up a student hockey club at the Victoria Sports Association. I’m now director of Aviation Marketing at Schiphol. A fantastic job where I also juggle several files at any one time.’

Arwin van Buuren 33, Public Administration (and HBO in Theology) What were you up to in 2000–2001? ‘I was studying Public Administration, and the main advice in classes was to become politically active ourselves, so that’s what I did. The work for the SGP really did help my studies. You can learn all sorts of things from books, but you see that things are sometimes very different in real life. I thought that was great.’ Did you enjoy your student days? ‘I was an incredibly serious student and I didn’t go to parties – not that I regret that though. The only thing that I do sometimes think is maybe I should have spent a year abroad. I did consider it, but it just didn’t happen.’ What do you do now? ‘I still work at the EUR, as Associate Professor in Public Administration, and am now a councillor for the SGP.’

Rutger van Eeuwijk

Jelmer Alsma

became world sailing

organized the

champion with his team

Comedy Experience

Rutger van Eeuwijk

Jelmer Alsma

34, Business Administration

34, Medicine What were you up to in 2000–2001? ‘I was on the board of the Medical Faculty Association Rotterdam, and this led to helping organize the Comedy Experience. That was an evening with cabaret and stand-up comedy for the Cultural Capital that we and other faculty associations organized.’

What were you up to in 2000¬–2001? ‘I became student world champion with the sailing team that I assembled myself, for two consecutive years even. It was an amazing time. It took me to Miami, San Francisco and the Mediterranean too. Sailing was my main preoccupation in the first few years. I started taking my studies more seriously later on, and managed to get good marks.’ What did you learn during your student days? ‘How to work in a team and under pressure, but mainly how to keep up your spirits and not to complain if things aren’t going your way.’

What did you learn from it? ‘There was no precedent, so you had to come up with everything yourself. We found artistes and presenters at various booking agencies. We negotiated with Nighttown about the location, sought sponsors and set up a PR campaign. All skills that I developed that I had no training in.’

What do you do now? ‘I’m Leasing Manager at Unibail-Rodamco, the biggest owner of shopping centres in Europe. I’m currently redeveloping a big shopping centre in Leidschendam. I still sail as well, and take part in an open world championship at least once a year.’

What do you do now? ‘I work as a doctor of internal medicine at the Erasmus MC. My particular focus is the care and treatment of critically ill patients in the emergency department. I also supervise doctors who are training in internal medicine, teach, train and conduct scientific research.’

erasmusalumni. magazine 19

Research in focus

TRICKY SEARCH Martijn Kleppe knows how tricky it can be to search for images. Imagine you are looking for a photo of your daughter on one of your holidays in France. It was by a wood, and your niece was there too... Not such an easy job to find it amongst all those photos. It is possibly even more difficult with videos, particularly if you are searching in the almost infinite archive of existing TV collections. ‘We now search for keywords and descriptions that have been added to the film clip’, says Kleppe, ‘which means you rely on the words that the archivist has used.’ Going through all the possible pictures is a laborious, inefficient and time-consuming task.

AXES AXES is an international research project that involves developing new search methods for video archives. Thirteen partners are working on the project, and they include universities (such as Erasmus University Rotterdam), institutes (such as the Institute for Sound and Image, on the photo here) and businesses. Historians Martijn Kleppe and Henri Beunders and information scientist Max Kemman from the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication are working on the project.

IMAGE RECOGNITION One of the new developments is image recognition software. You enter a number of pictures of your daughter, for example, and the programme will then recognize her automatically. This is also being developed for videos on the AXES project. Another technique is voice recognition, in which the spoken word is converted into searchable text.

20 erasmusalumni. magazine

HOW PEOPLE SEARCH Building a search engine is technology on the one hand and knowledge of how people search and how they want to search on the other. The latter is what the three researchers from Rotterdam are investigating. AXES is focusing on three groups of users: programme makers, researchers (such as academics and journalists) and consumers. How these three groups search and want to search is rather different, Kleppe explains. ‘Programme makers, for example, often search for short fragments, and they want to know immediately how expensive it will be to use the image. That is irrelevant for academics – they want to be able to add their own keywords to the images, for example.’

DIGITAL HUMANITIES Digitization has made a new type of research possible in the Humanities. At the EUR this type of research is generally undertaken by the interfaculty Erasmus Studio institute. The PoliMedia project is an example, on which Kleppe, Beunders and Kemman also worked. They linked the minutes from the Dutch House of Representatives to media comment about them. This makes it possible to see how the media report certain topics. PoliMedia recently received a grant to extend the research project to include the minutes from the European Parliament.

Text Mieke Fiers Photo Ronald van den Heerik

erasmusalumni. magazine 21

Science Festival

Open campus: a festival full of science

It’s open house at Erasmus University Rotterdam on 24 May. A great opportunity for alumni to visit the modernized campus of their alma mater as well as to learn more about the University’s academics and their latest findings. The Science Festival has a packed programme of talks and lectures, discussions and games for young and old. You will find a selection on these pages. More information and the full programme on

Are your supermarket purchases really your own choice? Everything in supermarkets is designed to encourage us to buy as much as possible. Bram van den Bergh is a researcher at the Rotterdam School of Management and knows how we are influenced in our shopping habits. In the campus SPAR he reveals the ‘walking technique’ that supermarkets like to impose on us.


erasmus alumni. magazine

Children’s lectures: mental agility Philosopher Awee Prins introduces children to the Big Questions of Philosophy: ‘Who am I? Human? Animal? Machine?’ Or: ‘What can we know for sure?’ He gets them thinking, and improves their mental agility. Children and young adults who wish to learn more about criminal law should attend Jolande uit Beijerse’s lecture. Uit Beijerse is Associate Professor of Criminal Law and a juvenile court judge. In a lecture for children, she will examine the case of Ciske the Rat, who stabbed his mother in a surge of anger. She will also explain why children receive different punishment from adults. Uit Beijerse will also give a separate lecture for young adults. A fourteen-year-old boy was accused of stabbing a fifteen-year-old girl from Arnhem in January 2012 in what was known as the Facebook Murder. The motive for the crime was an argument on Facebook. Which punishment should this fourteen-year-old receive? Why do young people receive different punishments than adults?

Tweet, Chat, Like & Drive Games that want to get a message across – this is what PhD student Ruud Jacobs is researching. Games like Tweet, Chat, Like & Drive, in which you drive and tweet or check Facebook at the same time. The game is part of a campaign by the road safety association Veilig Verkeer Nederland. The idea is that you see for yourself that social media and traffic do not mix. Persuasive games, as they are called, are relatively new, and it has not yet been proven whether and how they have an effect. Jacobs is trying to find out more by asking online players of Tweet, Chat, Like & Drive to fill in a questionnaire.

How did Erasmus manage without Google? We can hardly imagine life without them: internet, search engines and social media. But none of them existed in the fifteenth century when Erasmus was doing his research. The University Library is giving a short workshop in which we peer over the shoulder of the man who gave our university its name: philosopher and writer Desiderius Erasmus. How did he search for information? Where did he search? How many followers and friends did he have? How many likes? Is there anything else we can learn from good old Erasmus?

At Open Campus, Jacobs, Professor of Communication and Media Jeroen Jansz and student Clarissa Spiekerman-Roberts will tell us what they know about the research and the game. You can of course play Tweet, Chat, Like & Drive there and fill in the questionnaire.

Predict the results of the football World Cup Is it possible to use statistics to calculate the results of a football championship? With an eye to the World Cup in Brazil, Assistant Professor of Econometrics Michel van de Velden will examine the possible tactics. What is the best strategy to assess the balance of power? And what is the likelihood of the best prediction actually winning the pool?

Flight simulator for doctors If a pilot has to practise flying a plane in a flight simulator, why doesn’t a doctor train in a virtual emergency department? This is the theory behind abcdeSIM, an Erasmus MC spinoff company. AbcdeSIM has developed a game in which doctors can practise treating a patient in the emergency department. It is the first game in the Netherlands for which you can earn continuing education points as a medical specialist. Stephanie Klein Nagelvoort Schuit is a doctor of acute internal medicine at the Erasmus MC and one of the founders of abcdeSIM. At Open Campus, she will talk about the game, which has already been used by more than a thousand doctors at 15 hospitals.

erasmus alumni. magazine


Why Rotterdam?

‘The main auditorium of De Doelen has remarkable acoustics’ Power couple Michiel Muller and Irene Muller-Schoof are proud of the international allure of Rotterdam and in particular De Doelen concert hall and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. text Eveline van de Lagemaat photo Levien Willemse

Michiel Muller (49) is a serial entrepreneur. He is known for the Tango chain of petrol stations and Route Mobiel. He now invests in young businesses such as Rotterdam businesses VONQ and He is also chairman of the Erasmus Trust Fund. Irene Muller-Schoof (50) set up the Nationaal Zorg College (NZCO) training institute. She gives com-

They went to the same secondary school in Kennemerland and began their degrees in Business Economics at Erasmus University at the same time. Michiel: ‘We did a lot together at secondary school, but it was just platonic. It was during the introduction weeks at university that we fell for each other.’ Irene: ‘And we’ve been together ever since. Well, we did live in different student accommodation, him at four different addresses in the city and me at three. I was a member of the RVSV, the female equivalent of the Rotterdam Student Corps, which Michiel belonged to.’ ‘Rotterdam was very different in those days’, says Michiel. ‘The riverside areas have now been redeveloped, the Kop van Zuid, for example. Rotterdam has become a business centre with a vibrant cultural life. There was some nightlife of course. De Doelen has always filled that gap for us.’

munication training, develops training materials and writes for magazines in the health sector. Studied: both Business Economics Graduated: 1989, on the same day Proud of: state-of-the-art concert and conference hall De Doelen and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

24 erasmusalumni. magazine

Strolling Michiel’s grandfather, Evert Kraaijvanger, was De Doelen’s architect. ‘It’s no wonder that he spent such a lot of time there as a child’, says Irene. ‘Incidentally, we both grew up playing and listening to music.’ Michiel: ‘Not just classical music though. As a student, I was the first saxophonist in the Hermes House Band. If you listen to classical music as a child, you learn to appreciate that kind of music. My parents often take our three children to De Doelen. They regularly travel by train to Rotterdam for a concert. That’s what’s so great about the concert and conference hall: it’s close to the Central

Michiel and Irene Muller-Schoof in the main auditorium of De Doelen concert and conference hall.

Station. We go to De Doelen about once a month, with or without children. Not just to concerts but other events too. This multifunctionality has always been the great strength of De Doelen. The main auditorium has remarkable acoustics. The building has beautiful wide foyers and a spacious reception hall. You can stroll round the building!’ Patrons De Doelen is home to the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and Irene sits on the Orchestra’s Patrons Committee. ‘We want people to feel so involved in the orchestra that they will want to support it financially as a patron, for the purchase of instruments or for special projects, for example. It makes us very glad that this ensures that the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra can continue, after almost a hundred years, to enrich the city. Of course, this is due to the quality of the orchestra and its conductors, such as Valery Gergiev and now Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The orchestra works closely with the Rotterdam business community, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the city council. A delegation joins it on each


ERASMUS SPORT CAFÉ Smakelijk eten voor studentikoze prijzen op campus Woudestein.

ALLES VERS uit eigen keuken Groot assortiment Belegde sandwiches Dagelijkse lunchtips Daghap naar keuze incl drankje € 6,Borrelarrangementen Biologische Barbecues tot 500 personen Tafelvoetbal 7 dagen per week geopend Pooltafels. Zonnig terras Sportwedstrijden op groot scherm

tour to forge links with the business community in the city they are visiting. This gives our trade an enormous boost. International guests like to stay in The Manhattan Hotel Rotterdam, which is linked to De Doelen by a footbridge. For example, you then get to see Roger Federer and his mother cross the bridge to visit a concert by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra for her birthday. Rotterdam has become a city with international allure.’

‘If you listen to classical music as a child, you learn to appreciate that kind of music.’ Eveline van de Lagemaat studied Social History at the Faculty of History and Art (now Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication, ESHCC).

Rotterdam is the place to be Rotterdam is hot & happening according to leading publications. The New York Times and The Rough Guides both placed Rotterdam among their favourites. According to The New York Times,

Designed by Rem Koolhaas and the

there are 52 places-to-go in 2014.

largest building in the Netherlands,

And there, at number 10, between

it contains a hotel (nhow) and a

Cape Town and the Albanian coast,

multitude of cafés and restaurants.

is the biggest port city in Europe:




Binnenrotte is also praised. This will

eighth place in the ‘Top Ten Cities’ of

open in October this year, and will be

The Rough Guides.

a real food Valhalla with hundreds of

Both praise the city for its diverse

shops devoted to food.

architecture from recent decades.

The New York Times also sings the

Whereas the city was once a container

praises of the modernized Central

port, it is now full of interesting

Station, the renovated Kunsthal and

buildings. One of these is the newly

the restaurants of Michelin-starred

opened vertical city: The Rotterdam.

chef François Geurds.







erasmus alumni. magazine


Erasmus University and voluntary work

Gift to the city In September 2014, Erasmus University will mark its centenary by presenting Mayor of Rotterdam Ahmed Aboutaleb with a cheque. This will not be for a sum of money but instead for tens of thousands of hours of voluntary work by students, staff and alumni.

Project: website Alumnus Martijn Bakker was already at work before you could register for a fun project. The platform is more or less fully sponsored by his Rotterdam company Bakker (36) set up this creative internet agency in 2000, and can count companies such as KPN, Sdu Uitgevers and Loewe among his clients. The alumnus in Business Administration and his team of designers, web developers and programmers have invested some 400 hours in its realization. ‘It’s an extensive platform with different sections for participants, staff and project owners’, says

text Dennis Mijnheer illustration Hans van den Tillaart

Dennis Mijnheer studied Business Administration at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus

Steward at the Rotterdam Marathon, helping the homeless in the Pauluskerk or accompanying the elderly on a bike ride – anyone who wants to help the city of Rotterdam on behalf of Erasmus University Rotterdam can register for many different projects. Under the slogan Erasmus4Rotterdam, Erasmus University is marking its centenary by calling on students, staff and alumni to do voluntary work in Rotterdam, as a ‘gift to the city’. The project now stands at more than 40,000 hours, with 780 participants and 40 associations making an active contribution. Alumni can also register for the projects via the site. ‘We hope to be able to give Rotterdam 50,000 hours by September’, says project manager Vincent Vergeer. Vergeer is considering continuing Erasmus4Rotterdam after the cheque has been presented. ‘We’ve got a website and are in touch with voluntary organizations; it would be a shame to cease operations after a year. We want to make it into a continuous gift.’

specializing in Marketing Management.

26 erasmusalumni. magazine

optimized for desktops, tablets and smartphones.’ The entrepreneur needed little time to consider sponsoring hours. ‘I’m an Erasmus alumnus and our company is in Rotterdam. I’m pleased to be able to give something back.’

Project: Team Leader at children’s rights conference for secondary school students Some 500 students of secondary vocational education attended a conference on children’s rights on 20 November 2013 at the invitation of Erasmus University. They did not just learn about children’s rights but were also given an introduction to the university world. They were accompanied by fiftyseven volunteers from Erasmus4Rotterdam who donated 292 hours in total.

Project: Roparun The annual Roparun, the relay race from Paris and Hamburg to Rotterdam (500 kilometres), needs more than 350 volunteers at the start of June. The

University (RSM). He graduated in 2003,

Bakker. ‘We’ve applied responsive web design, so it’s

Want to help? Erasmus4Rotterdam invites alumni to roll up their sleeves. Register at

participants in the Roparun complete the distance as a team to raise money for people with cancer. Volunteers are needed for the stewards, PR and setup crews in Paris, Hamburg and Rotterdam.

Theory in practice

Philosopher in deprived community The theories of French philosophers are put into practice at a primary school in Rotterdam-Zuid with a vegetable plot, cooking, judo and ‘ecosophy’ lessons. The brain behind it is Henk Oosterling, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy. ‘It’s one big laboratory.’ text Sjoerd Wielenga Henk Oosterling with children from Skill City. Judo teaches them respect and trust. (photo: Marcel Kentin, taken for the Scalda institute for secondary vocational education)

erasmusalumni. magazine 27



RSM Alumni Lifelong Learning Scholarship

At Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) we believe in and foster life-long learning. In recognition of this ideal, we are offering alumni from the RSM and EUR Bachelor and/or Master degrees a Lifelong Learning Scholarship awarded as a tuition fee waiver for the 2015 intakes of our MBA programmes. Find out how the MBA can complement your previous degree and enhance your career by contacting Vasileios Zaravellas from the MBA Admissions office at



Theory in practice

‘Would you like soup too?’ Some hundred pupils sit eating at long tables in the cafeteria of the Bloemhof Primary School. A mother who is helping in the kitchen hands me a bowl of spicy vegetable soup with some French bread and vegetables. Henk Oosterling (1952) is eating as well, standing up. ‘Which country do you come from, sir?’ a girl asks Oosterling. ‘I was born one street away from here’, he answers. ‘Which country do you come from then?’ The school is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. This also influences the kitchen menu: no pork due to Muslim children and no beef due to Hindu ones. Food is an important aspect of the philosophy that Oosterling developed for the school, and this philosophy also forms the basis of Skill City Rotterdam, of which he is the founder (see box). Oosterling introduced lessons on judo, cooking, the environment and philosophy in order to make the children media and eco-savvy. He believes these are all related. ‘It all comes together in the kitchen’, Oosterling explains somewhat later in a greenhouse in the middle of the school vegetable plot. ‘The pupils are given cooking lessons, see in the summer how the food from the garden is used and think about food and exercise. They know that you need a healthy diet to be able to do judo, and that you must therefore take good care of the garden, which is where the food comes from. There they meet students on placement and mothers who volunteer there. And you can see on a screen how much energy the solar panels on the roof produce.’ Vogelaar neighbourhood Oosterling has already been involved for years in RotterdamZuid, of national fame for its poverty, crime and social issues. He has been a consultant since 2007 for Pact op Zuid (Kwaliteitssprong Zuid since 2011), a programme in which the authorities and organizations work together to tackle social problems. His philosophy books Door schijn bewogen (1996) and Radicale middelmatigheid (2000) formed the basis of a political analysis of Rotterdam-Zuid in 2004. Oosterling: ‘That was just after Pim Fortuyn was murdered. The country was in panic and the municipality wanted to invest in deprived neighbourhoods.’ The Bloemhof neighbourhood was one of the forty deprived neighbourhoods in the action plan of former minister Vogelaar, responsible for neighbourhood improvement. The minister visited Bloemhof in 2007. It was during that visit that Henk Oosterling met the head of Bloemhof Primary School, Wim Pak. They were working

together the next day. ‘I didn’t know what I had let myself in for’, says Pak, who has joined the conversation in the greenhouse. ‘We began very practically with judo; we taught children the concepts of “respect” and “trust”. But it’s only in the last six months that I have really come to understand how it is all interrelated. That the whole school has an educational vision in which respect and trust are pivotal: towards team members, parents and pupils.’ Pak also mentions the kitchen as an important link in the educational concept. ‘You eat together, you share a meal and you’re together. Not all children are used to that from home.’

Lunchtime at Bloemhof primary school. Food is very important in the philosophy that Oosterling developed for the primary school. ‘It all comes together in the kitchen’ (photo: Skill City Foundation)  

‘This primary school has been in this neighbourhood for years, but it had little connection with it’ French philosophers The million-dollar question is what an associate professor of Philosophy is doing at a primary school in Zuid-Rotterdam. The basis of Oosterling’s work in Bloemhof is formed by the ideas of the twentieth-century French thinkers he admires: Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida and JeanFrançois Lyotard. Oosterling: ‘In their vision a person does not exist as an individual, but each person is formed by the “discourse” that gives him meaningful connection and direction in his life. An individual is a junction in a network, and is therefore first and foremost an “intervidual”.’ This also reflects the relationships that a pupil at Bloemhof, for example, has with others: parents, fellow pupils, teachers,

erasmusalumni. magazine 29

Theory in practice

Tasting during the gardening lesson. Henk Oosterling: ‘We teach the children that food comes out of the ground.’ (Photo: Skill City Foundation)

What is Skill City Rotterdam? • An initiative that aims to give underprivileged



perspective of a good job and to provide Rotterdam with people with skills. • Bloemhof Primary School forms the core of Skill City; four other primary schools, three secondary schools, placement companies, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, InHolland University of Applied Sciences, the EUR and the IMC Weekendschool are also involved. • Children can follow courses in the

neighbourhood residents; all revolving around the school and its gardens. The French philosophers see the world as a collection of human networks, and this is how Oosterling views the city of Rotterdam. ‘You then see other connections in the city, or rather the lack of them. If you look at it like that, other solutions arise in which people and organizations are connected. ‘This primary school has been in this neighbourhood for years, but it had little connection with it. Since the introduction of our educational concept, you can see a change in the school’s function.’ He mentions the Turkish mothers who work there for a volunteer’s allowance. ‘Their whole life was Turkish. Since they have worked here in the kitchen their frame of reference has become much greater. They now mingle with young people, teachers, Antilleans, Ghanaians, Moroccans, crazy philosophers, students and artists. They enjoy it, they work with them and they trust them. Their world has opened up because they communicate and participate. That is an enormous gain for society.’

Vakhuis community centre on technology, health-care, IT and culture. • Alongside the educational institutions that are participating, Skill City works with the Verwey-Jonker Institute (which monitors the project), the Municipality of Rotterdam, housing associations, businesses and other social institutions. • Henk Oosterling is its initiator and director. He also works three days a week at the EUR as Associate Professor in Philosophy. Oosterling was awarded the EUR Research Prize in 1996, the Laurenspenning Medal in 2008 and the Van Praagprijs by the Humanist



Verbond) in 2013. •

30 erasmusalumni. magazine

Ecosophy What Oosterling means is that the school is not primarily a place of education but a network location in which education is pivotal. If it were up to him, all primary schools in Rotterdam, or better still in all of the Netherlands, would work like this. He is in talks about it with councillors, policymakers and education providers. Head Wim Pak has benefitted a great deal from Oosterling’s philosophy. ‘Our task was to teach and educate. We always went about this in the wrong way because our basic premise was: you must represent the values of, let’s say, Mr and Mrs Average. In national history, we therefore traditionally taught children about the Crusades, but you can ask yourself whether that’s such a good idea when you know that people from different countries are in your class.’

Now the pupils do not just have language and maths lessons but also lessons from present and former philosophy students of Erasmus University. Ecosophy lessons, is what Oosterling terms the lessons in philosophy, the environment and peace. ‘Ecology and philosophy flow into another’, he says. ‘Communication between people works in the same way as in ecosystems, via feedback and loops. It’s all about eat or be eaten. The same applies to people. Philosophers such as Nietzsche, Foucault and Deleuze suggest that this interplay is all about power. There are no harmonious relationships; all relationships are by definition discordant. We therefore need to develop skills to help us deal with this, which is why we also provide mediation or peace lessons, in which we teach children how to deal with tensions and conflicts.’ Deeds not words Philosophy is therefore put into practice here, or, as Oosterling says: ‘Philosophy really is much more than a bit of a chinwag about what old dead men proclaimed.’ But it is not only this school and neighbourhood that benefit from the philosophical insights. The science of Philosophy also benefits, says Oosterling. ‘This primary school is one big laboratory.’ Oosterling now shares the lessons that he learned in Bloemhof in the honours lecture on sustainability that he gives with Professor Jan Rotmans as well as in his Master’s lectures in ecosophy. He also described his new insights and experiences in thick books with Rotterdam sounding titles such as Woorden als daden and Doendenken. Is his approach typical of Rotterdam? ‘On the contrary. The Rotterdam cliché “deeds not words” is nonsense. You then run around like a headless chicken. My book titles say that you should think about what you do and that you can use your words to take responsibility. “Deeds not words” made sense at the end of the nineteenth century when the port was being built. But now? Pull the other one! What do the policymakers do all day long? They chew your ears off! What is true, however, is that plenty is possible in Rotterdam. Our mentality here is never give up.’ Local school lunch The conversation is then interrupted when two women enter the greenhouse. They are from Unilever and have a meeting with Skill City Rotterdam. Oosterling takes them to a colleague. When he returns: ‘I want Unilever to offer placements where parents and children can take a look. Unilever can help at big events with its eco range and mentors.’ Oosterling’s ultimate aim is for the whole regional food

Column Nathan Vos

chain – including city farm ‘Uit je eigen stad’ (from your own city) - to be united in a common school lunch programme. Imagine, says Oosterling, if all Rotterdam primary schools purchased a lunch each day from the city farm and organic farmers. Those businesses would benefit greatly. ‘Then school lunch isn’t just about feeding the children – it is also about a green, sustainable and working city.’ Director Pak adds: ‘Four-yearolds think that grapes grow in cellophane packages in the supermarket.’ Oosterling: ‘We teach children that food comes out of the ground, and that if you don’t look after that ground properly, you won’t have anything to eat. Give these children a knife and they’ll cut an onion. They use it as a weapon at other schools.’

‘Philosophy really is much more than a bit of a chinwag about old dead men’ Community centres Oosterling understands the children of Bloemhof, he says. What is more, he identifies with them. He was born in a maternity ward here, and grew up on Noordereiland in an environment in which the teacher said: ‘Your sort isn’t allowed to go to grammar school.’ So he did the mulo (advanced elementary education) followed by the havo (senior general secondary education), teacher training college and grammar school before studying Philosophy. He did judo as a child and later on had his own school of Japanese swordsmanship, a sport in which he became national champion in 1983. He used his own method to teach Dutch to migrant workers in Bloemhof in the 1970s. He published a teaching syllabus about alternative energy in 1983, and became a lecturer at the university two years later. ‘Teaching, philosophizing and doing sport... I have experienced everything in Skill City. I am an academic, sportsman and activist. I worked my socks off to achieve this. I find Skill City so important because I have the same background as these children. When I was young you had community centres and they taught me a lot. I was lucky. With Skill City I’m giving something back to society. It’s as simple as that.’

Rotterdam lessons You think you can cycle for a moment on the pavement, but five seconds later you’re sent back to the road in no uncertain terms and – almost – whacked by an assertive citizen who ‘couldn’t care less’ about short cuts. Welcome to Rotterdam. It was one of my better ideas to see whether I could rent an apartment in Rotterdam at the end of 1999. I was going to spend a few months there studying journalism on the Postdoctoral Journalism Programme (Postdoctorale Opleiding Journalistiek; PDOJ), which seemed like a fantastic opportunity to escape the accumulated grind of my alma mater in Utrecht. The affordable maisonette, property of artist Dora Dolz, on the corner of Rochussenstraat-Heemraadssingel was a stroke of luck. Five big rooms, and that sun room had my name on it. Another stroke of luck was three fun male students who were also looking for rooms. Rotterdam isn’t Utrecht. Nor is it Groningen. My northern housemate Rob discovered this days after he took up residence in the form of a knife at his throat at a cashpoint on the Nieuwe Binnenweg. Lesson 1: Wear a hoodie on the Nieuwe Binnenweg and preferably walk like a gangster yourself. Visit the cashpoint in the daytime. At the start of the millennium, Rotterdam was also the city of unexpected drinking. You would find yourself walking down a random street and ending up in a hip or very unhip (both good) pub with your new journalist friends. Only to find yourself, two hours later, dazed and confused with no idea which district – and in the odd case which city – you had ended up in. Lesson 2: Pub crawls in Rotterdam get you fit. Lesson 3: Get a grip. Literally. That wind! Those gusts! The trip home from the classroom under the Dijkzigt was hellish. Many a journalist of slight stature was blown into the Koopgoot shopping passage. We year 2000 PDOJ students all cherished our intermezzo in Rotterdam. Particularly those of us from Utrecht who learned that students aren’t in charge – especially not on the streets. That may have been the most important lesson. Lesson 4: You cycle on the road and walk on the pavement. Nathan Vos (1971) followed the PDOJ programme in 2000 at the Faculty

Sjoerd Wielenga completed his Master’s degree in Media

of History and Art (now Erasmus School of History, Culture and Com-

and Journalism at the Faculty of History and Art (now Erasmus

munication, ESHCC). He was a reporter for De Telegraaf, head of news at

School of History, Culture and Communication, ESHCC) at the EUR

Het Parool and editorial coordinator of De Wereld Draait Door. He is now

in 2007.

editor-in-chief of the magazine Zin.

erasmusalumni. magazine 31

Erasmus Energy Forum 2014



energy landscape: Microgrids and Financing Sustainable Energy

Business Day

Science Day

at Rotterdam’s new landmark Hotel nhow

at Woudestein campus, RSM

Thursday 19 June 2014

Friday 20 June 2014

EU Policy and Markets; Energy Microgrids & New Business Models; Financing Sustainable Energy. Debate challenges to safeguarding energy provision in the future and new business models Integrate viewpoints and expertise Network and share knowledge Confirmed speakers are leading policy makers, decision-makers in business, academics, energy practitioners, and researchers from economics, computer science, behavioural science and management science. They include: Hans ten Berge, EURELECTRIC Prof. Marc Oliver Bettzüge, University of Cologne Prof. Derek Bunn, London Business School Allard Castelein, CEO, Port of Rotterdam

Guido Dubbeld, CFO, Eneco Holding NV Mel Kroon, CEO, TenneT Peter Smink, CEO & CFO, Nuon Prof. Ad van Wijk, TU Delft

SPECIAL DINNER SPEAKER: Jonathon Porritt, writer and broadcaster


Find out more or register now



From Rotterdam to Sweden

‘And then we reach a compromise’ Josja van der Maas works in the Mecca of IKEA, in Sweden. She kept a diary for ea. about pine forests, scatter cushions and Swedish meetings. Monday morning, 6.45 a.m.

Monday, coffee break.

The train to Älmhult is full of IKEA employees, but it’s as quiet as a mouse, as it is every day. Älmhult’s main claim to fame is as the site of the first IKEA shop. The town now has a population of 9,000, and probably about half works for the company. There isn’t much else, apart from pizzerias and a surprising number of hairdressers. That’s why my partner Patrick and I chose to live in the nearby city of Malmö when we moved here from Australia two years ago.

Time for fika, the coffee break that is an institution here. Someone once said that if the Swedes gave up their coffee breaks, they’d be able to retire five years earlier. You mainly talk about things other than work during fika. Today’s topic of conversation is the Eurovision Song Festival, an annual hype. If you don’t watch it, you might as well be invisible.

I eat my breakfast: rice-milk porridge with raspberries, blueberries and cinnamon with a cup of strong, black coffee. This is my first day back after a two-week business trip to Asia: Vietnam, Malaysia and China. It’s a beautiful morning, the sun is coming up and it’s already light. It was still really dark at this time two weeks ago. This cheers me up no end. I can see the beautiful Swedish countryside whizzing by: red houses, yellow houses, rolling fields, lakes, streams, deer, the odd fox or moose and endless pine forests. This week is Home Week, which means everyone is back at the office and no one is travelling. It’s a week full of meetings and hopefully lots of decisions; the emphasis is on hopefully. This is because it’s not always easy to reach a decision in Sweden. Swedish people call themselves lagom, which means something like ‘average’. And decisions must be lagom. Meetings are to give everyone the opportunity to say what they think, even if it bears no relevance to what meeting was supposed to be about. Then everyone returns to their department or team to discuss it. A new meeting then needs to be tabled for the actual decision. Everyone expresses their opinion, everyone listens and we then reach a compromise. This means that everyone gets something, no one wins, no one loses, exactly lagom. I still have to get used to it, despite having worked for this typically Swedish company for 17 years.

Monday 5.00 p.m. In the train back home I check my e-mail and read through a newsletter that needs to be sent out – our outdoor high season has begun again. I then think back with satisfaction on all the decisions that we have made today. We decided about new scatter cushions: a small traditional range and a more decorative modern range. There’ll be a children’s version of an existing chair – I think it’ll be a big hit. I also had a meeting about certified wood, and we chose a supplier for two new outdoor furniture ranges. So not bad at all, despite the Swedish way of doing business, or could the Swedish way actually be a recipe for success? Sweden is seen as an innovative and creative country, and one Swedish company after the other is gaining a foothold in the world market. The Swedes are therefore not so average, or lagom, as they might think. You don’t work in the evening. The Swedes have a very healthy work-life balance. Tonight I go to a meeting of the owners association. We have something to celebrate: the construction work on our building has been completed. First a five-kilometre run though. I need it after all that eating out and hotel meals in the last weeks...

Josja van der Maas (1970) is Business Leader Outdoor Living at IKEA of Sweden. She studied Business Economics at the Erasmus School of Economics from 1990 to 1996.

erasmusalumni. magazine 33

Alumni Affairs


Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam E T 010-4081110 W Keep up-to-date with developments at the EUR. Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.


Erasmus Alumni Association Bon Ellemeet / Alexandra Staab E T 010-4149407 W


Erasmus School of Economics Charles Hermans E T 010-4081803 W


Faculty of Social Sciences Marjolein Kooistra E T 010-4082135 W

34 erasmusalumni. magazine

Take part in our readers’ survey. Tell us what you think of EA. Scan the QR code and take part in our readers’ survey. We would welcome your feedback. We have five copies of the new guide to Rotterdam 100% Rotterdam to give away to five lucky participants.

Join now! Join the only general and the largest EUR alumni association: the Erasmus Alumni Association (Erasmus Alumnivereniging; EAV), and receive as a welcome gift the book commemorating the anniversary of the Erasmus Trust Fund Een onzalig plan mijne

YEP The Young ESE Programme (YEP) for young staff of the Erasmus School of Economics A group of young staff of the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) set up YEP in the summer of 2012 to give their peers the opportunity to get to

Remarkable and Innovative The book Spraakmakend en Vernieuwend (Remarkable and Innovative) was recently published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Social Sciences (Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen; FSW). Over the last 50 years, the Faculty has grown from one (Sociology) to four programmes. Author Mary van der Graaf has given a good picture of this growth in the book: new programmes such as Psy-

100% Rotterdam, Nina Swaep, ISBN: 978-90-5767-647-5,

heren - het Erasmus Trustfonds 100 jaar stevig onder de stormen. The book was written by Hein Meijers, science journalist and former editorin-chief of Quod Novum, and describes the turbulent history of the Erasmus Trust Fund and its changing role over the years.

know each other informally. Participants can grow their networks and develop their skills in a fun and informal way. The YEP committee organizes workshops, activities and drinks every two months. YEP is a popular programme with young members of the ESE staff.

chology and Educational Sciences, institutes that came and went and numerous revolutionary projects in the field of education. The FSW of 2014 is a dynamic and multidisciplinary faculty that is revolutionary in both its teaching and its research. Order a copy of Spraakmakend en Vernieuwend: het verhaal van de FSW 20032013 by Mary van der Graaf from Marjolein Kooistra (


Alumni in the spotlight Do you ever think back to your student days and wonder what has become of your fellow students? If so, why not take a look at the Alumni in the spotlight section of the ESL website. The interesting interviews with and reports about famous and less famous former ESL students such as Anton van de

Mandeville Conference The Faculty of Philosophy is hosting the Mandeville Conference on 6 June 2014, a day after the renowned Mandeville Lecture. It is three hundred years since Bernard de Mandeville, one of Rotterdam’s most illustrious inhabitants, published his most famous work: The Fable of the

Erasmus Signature Wall at Erasmus MC Erasmus MC has its own signature wall with the signatures of Erasmus MC alumni on a series of panels. The wall takes pride of place in the Education Centre, and comprises freestanding units, each containing six LED-lit silk-screened glass panels mounted on a steel plinth – a unique

Research Master’s in Sociology of Culture, Media and the Arts ‘top programme’ The Keuzegids Masters 2014 (an independent guide to Master’s programmes) has awarded the Research Master’s programme in Sociology of Culture, Media and the Arts the quality mark ‘Top Programme’. It’s the only Master’s programme in Media Studies, Communication Studies and Art and

Erasmus School of Law Martijn Roos E T 010-4089699 W Westelaken, Lodewijk Rogier and Aart Jan de Geus will take you right back to those days.


Bees. Mandeville’s work will be situated in its historical and intellectual context at this international conference. There will be a reception in the evening for alumni in Podium O950, the former faculty building, to mark the Faculty’s 40th anniversary.

Faculty of Philosophy Ceciel Meiborg E T 010-4088980 W

work of art by Annemoon Geurts. The glass panels are numbered. If you would like your signature to be added to the signature wall, please download the registration form and sent it to the secretariat of the Erasmus Alumni Association (EAV). The signatures will be collected until there are enough to fill a panel. The fee is € 35.

Cultural Sciences to have been awarded the title. The Keuzegids Masters 2014 is published by the Centre for Information on Higher Education (Centrum Hoger Onderwijs Informatie; CHOI). The guide, which provides student and expert assessments of all Master’s programmes at research universities and universities of applied sciences, can be purchased via

Erasmus MC Elles de Waard E W More information about the signature wall at


Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

IBCOM en Mediastudies Renée Mast E T 010-4082006 Lidewij Radix E T 010-4082309

History & Culture Sabai Doodkorte E T 010-4082874 W

erasmusalumni. magazine 35

Alumni Affairs


Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University Jennifer Ritfeld E T 010-4082698 W

Lifelong learning Even if your student days are long gone and you have long since exchanged the lecture hall for working life, we at RSM believe lifelong learning to be an essential aspect of your career. We therefore provide different lifelong learning opportunities. Open Programmes RSM Executive Education offers alumni a 10% discount on short, open programmes in leadership, strategy, marketing, sales, finance and innovation. You will find a full

RSM Alumni Lifelong Learning Scholarship RSM offers alumni of EUR and RSM Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes a lifelong learning scholarship. If you take part in RSM MBA programmes that start in 2015, you will not have to pay tuition fees. Discover how an MBA can supplement your qualifications and increase your career opportunities. Contact MariaRosa Parra ( or visit

overview at


Zorg voor Kennis III


IHS webinars

Institute of Health Policy and Management Stefan Groen E W

Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies Charmae Nercua E T 010-4089874 W


Institute of Social Studies Sandra Nijhof E T 070-4260414 W

36 erasmusalumni. magazine

iBMG and alumni association aBMG hold a care conference every other year especially for alumni and their guests. The conference will take place this year on 30 October and will most likely be on the new Woudestein Campus. If we have your latest

IHS alumni can be found all over the world, making it impossible for them to return to Woudestein for interesting lectures. IHS has therefore started to present webinars and live

Ambassadors programme ISS set up the Ambassadors Programme at the end of 2013. This is a network of recent graduates who help recruit new students and establish links with embassies, funds and the media in order to promote

address, you will receive an invitation from us. If you are unsure whether we have the correct address or if you are not an iBMG alumnus but are interested in the conference, please contact the iBMG alumni office.

lectures. Since the webinars and live lectures began, more than 1500 alumni worldwide have tuned in. If you are interested, you can tune in via ihsalumni

ISS. The current network has 15 ambassadors across 12 countries. This group will be followed by a new group after a year.

Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam

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Op zoek naar inspiratie, verdieping en kennis met impact? Kies dan voor een cursus van Erasmus Academie!

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Bekijk de nieuwe studiegids 2014-2015 direct online of vraag hem aan en ontvang hem per post

Wij verz orgen o incomp ok any-op leiding Neem co en ntact op met onze directeu r Ad Ho fstede vi 010 408 a 2090 of hofsted erasmusa e@ cademie .nl

Alumni agenda

Upcoming Events Until 15 June: LIVING DINOSAURS - Dozens of dinosaurs can be seen until 15 June in Post Rotterdam, the former post office on the Coolsingel. Joost Gribnau and Anton Grootegoed, biologists from the Erasmus MC, worked on the exhibition. This work included a timeline of the beginning of animal life.

UNTIL 15 JUNI Living Dinosaurs Post Rotterdam 24 MAY Open Campus with: Science Festival and Generation Games 5 JUNE

5 June: RUSSELL SHORTO - American historian, writer and journalist Russell Shorto will give the De Mandeville lecture on 5 June. He won fame for his book The Island at the Center of the World. His latest book is Amsterdam: A History of the World’s Most Liberal City. Shorto used to live in Amsterdam, where he was director of the John Adams Institute.

3 October: IN PRAISE OF MEDICINE - The annual public lecture of the Erasmus MC, In Praise of Medicine (Lof der Geneeskunst), will mark the centenary of the Daniel den Hoed cancer clinic. The theme is personalized medicine. One of the speakers is molecular biologist and Nobel Prize winner Carol Greide.


Bring it on! The European Universities Games is the largest multi sport event for students in Europe and will be organized on and around campus Woudestein, at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Between 24 July and 8 August 2014 we expect to welcome 3000 student athletes from 45 Europe-

an countries, who will compete in 10 sports. We are proud to organize the EUGames 2014 as part of the centennial celebrations in Rotterdam, the City of Sports. Please join us in the fun, international sport event this summer.

by American historian Russell Shorto

6 JUNE Mandeville Conference International conference on the work of Bernard Mandeville 19 JUNE Erasmus Energy Forum: Microgrids and financing sustainable energy, Nhow Rotterdam Hotel 20 JUNE Erasmus Energy Forum: Conference on Future Energy Business and Energy Computer Science, Erasmus Pavilion, EUR Campus 24 JULY- 8 AUG Universities Games European student sporting event at Woudestein Campus and other locations 1 SEPT

Opening of the Academic Year with Hans Clevers, president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Akademie voor Wetenschappen; KNAW)

3 OCT RSM Leadership Summit 2014 World Trade Centre Rotterdam 3 OCT

Lof der Geneeskunst (In Praise of Medicine)

De Doelen

30 OCT

Zorg voor Kennis (Care for Knowledge)

BMG alumni event Woudestein Campus 7 NOV

38 erasmusalumni. magazine

Mandeville Lecture

Dies Natalis Auditorium, Woudestein

Family Portrait

Jos de Mul 58, Professor of Philosophical Anthropology at EUR Studied: Law (Utrecht), Art History (Utrecht and Amsterdam) and Philosophy (Utrecht, Amsterdam and Nijmegen) 1975-1988 Elize de Mul 26 Studied: Theatre, Film and Television Studies (BA) and New Media and Digital Culture (MA) (Utrecht) 20062012 Philosophy of Humanities (MA) (EUR) 2010-2012

‘As a child she came to the odd lecture of mine’ She didn’t want to go to the EUR because her father worked there, but Elize de Mul eventually ended up taking his lectures. text and photo Ronald van den Heerik

‘Like any self-respecting teenager, I definitely didn’t want to study in Rotterdam’, says Elize. ‘And no way was I going to do Philosophy, although it had always interested me.’ She didn’t know what to study, so travelled to Argentina instead. ‘I learned Spanish there and went to the Art and Film Academy in the hope that I would have an epiphany about what to study. The epiphany

never came.’ She finally chose to study Theatre, Film and Television Studies. Her philosophical predisposition was unmistakable on this programme. It lead to a combined dual Master’s programme: New Media and Digital Culture and – at EUR after all – Philosophy of Humanities. She followed one of her father’s course units there, although this wasn’t her first time at one of his lectures. As a child she wanted to know what daddy did all day, so he took her along to the Faculty in het Visser ‘t Hooftgebouw. Elize: ‘I remember the porter really vividly. He could draw amazing schooners.’ She sat with the students in her father’s lecture, and pretended to make notes with her felt-tip pens. Jos remembers that his colleague Awee Prins once brought his son along and that he and Elize played together. The same Prins was her thesis supervisor

many years later in Rotterdam. She was awarded the Lambers Prize for the best dual Master’s student, and a few months earlier was honoured with the national Leo Polak Prize for her thesis Dansen met een plastic zak (Dancing with a Plastic Bag), which is now available as a book. Father de Mul is proud. He chose Rotterdam straight after graduation. ‘I was working on my PhD in Nijmegen when all posts for junior staff members were reduced from six to four years. This put me in a tricky situation, so I applied for a job in Rotterdam. Jan Sperna Weiland, in whose footsteps I later followed, became my co-supervisor.’ He never regretted his move to Rotterdam. Certainly not now the campus has been given a makeover. He was sceptical initially, but now thinks it a great improvement.

erasmusalumni. magazine 39



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