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magazine 01/February 2012

About education and research at Maastricht University

20 years of the

Maastricht Treaty: success or failure?

Sophie Vanhoonacker and Thomas Christiansen discuss its achievements – p 12

Never waste

a good crisis

Discussion between Bertrand Candelon and Olaf Sleijpen – p 14

“Expensive initial diagnostics

saves money”

Jim van Os, professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology – p 10


Further 04 Leading in Learning - University College Maastricht develops master orientation tool 06 European grant - Harald Schmidt: Radical medicine: smart drugs to save the brain


Herman Kingma

Professor Kingma, PhD, is an international expert on the vestibular system, which helps us keep our balance. With his research, he is leading the charge in the development of the first artificial human vestibular system. How a shaky study path led to a top career in Maastricht.

10 Research and society - Jim van Os: “Life sucks, deal with it” 12 20 years of the Maastricht Treaty - Sophie Vanhoonacker and Thomas Christiansen: “The crisis will clear the air” 14 Debate - Bertrand Candelon and Olaf Sleijpen on the European economic crisis 16 PhD research - Josje Weusten: Undermining the motherhood ideal 18 International - Harm Hospers: “Mission accomplished” 20 Professor – Student - Arno Korsten and Milo Schoenmaker: Administrative troubles 26 Interdisciplinary research - Hildegard Schneider: “My research is relevant for my work as dean”

32 Alum Ester Barendregt

Just over two years ago, Ester Barendregt moved to the United States with her husband and two children. Destination: Washington, where she had been seconded by the Dutch Ministry of Finance to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In these times of financial crisis, it is the place to be for policy economists.

28 Campus Venlo - Fred Brouns: Learning how the world really works 30 Off the job - Joost Pennings: Part-time farming with an ancient family recipe 34 Alumni - Jeroen Schmitt: “Deep down I’m a scientist” 36 University Fund - Theo Bovens: new chair of the University Fund - Lions Club Maastricht scholarship - News News 8, 9, 25 and 38

Interdisciplinary collaboration 2012 will be an important year for Maastricht University (UM). We will see not only a new rector from 1 September, Professor Luc Soete, but also the launch of the university’s new strategic programme. This programme sets out the main developments for the university in the coming five years. Key to this will be the further development of UM as the most international university in the Netherlands, with strong ties in our own region as well. In addition, we will profile ourselves still further as an institution of continual educational innovation, where ProblemBased Learning remains our guiding philosophy.

We are also seeking to profile the university more expressly within the Euregion in which we are located. The development of Brains Unlimited, the launch of the Chemelot Campus in Geleen and the extension of the Maastricht Health Campus will be unveiled this year. And new jobs will be created thanks to the ‘triple helix’ of cooperation between the university, the government and the business sector. With this collaboration, we are convinced that the university is entering a new and exciting era.

In terms of research, we have chosen three interdisciplinary themes of high social relevance: ‘Quality of Life’, ‘Europe and a Globalising World’, and ‘Learning and Innovation’. In these three areas we bring together scholars and scientists from different disciplines within our university, and we combine fundamental research with more applied research in our constant endeavour to increase knowledge. These efforts dovetail with the top research areas nationwide – economic affairs, agriculture and innovation – as well as with the grand challenges on the agenda of the European Union. In this way, UM is effectively returning to its roots: highly innovative education and interdisciplinary research focused on a limited number of socially relevant areas.

Professor Gerard Mols, Rector Magnificus, Maastricht University

Happy reading!

Gerard Mols


Leading in Learning

Nicolai Manie

University College Maastricht develops master orientation tool By Margot Krijnen

Two years ago, Professor Wim Gijselaers, PhD, investigated the possibilities of boosting innovation at UM. His suggestion was: enable faculties to propose a project based on their own particular need or question. Nicolai Manie, Academic Advising coordinator at University College Maastricht (UCM), presented the idea of a master orientation tool. And it turned out a success. 4

Proposals “It was quite simple: we offered all faculties the financial space to write a project proposal based on a particular question”, explains Ellen Bastiaens, Leading and Learning programme manager. “We received many proposals, and UCM came up with a master orientation tool.” All proposals were reviewed by a three-person UM committee. The master orientation tool was immediately accepted, and Manie was given the green light to start the project. “In our first visit to him, he had visualised the tool for us, and it turned out exactly like that. Not only did he actually develop the tool, but he also did it before the deadline and almost entirely within budget. How often does that happen?” Spin-off Bastiaens is pleased with the programme spin-off: “These programmes often lead to the usual suspects within faculties, but the nature of this particular ‘free’ programme put new people in the picture, people who feel strongly about education and their faculty. Most of them couldn’t wait to work on their ideas, were enthusiastic, had ideas and the flair to realise them. Nicolai is definitely one of these new spirits.” Manie’s tool uses data mining to support UCM students in their choice of master’s programme after graduation. “But there are many more possibilities”, says Bastiaens. “We’re now considering using the tool university wide. Nicolai has been working on a new project proposal and we’ve asked him to create a prototype that we can present to the other faculties.” Another bonus has been the cooperation between faculties for this project. Manie created the idea behind the tool, but the datamining algorithm was developed by a master’s student from the Department of Knowledge Engineering (DKE). “This tool is a fantastic example of innovative progress at UM”, says Bastiaens.

Matrix Indeed, Manie is enthusiastic about his product. He explains: “As a student, you log in with an access code. The tool’s most important function is its curriculum-planning matrix. Students at UCM choose from 130 courses with the regular guidance of their academic advisers. In the tool matrix, they can now enter all the courses that they’ve completed. It then shows them what they can do with the courses they’ve already done, and which courses they still have to take to complete the UCM curriculum. They can even create a file with this information and send it to their academic adviser prior to a talk. The tool also compares their matrix with the matrices of 350 UCM alumni, and determines which alumni their matrix is most similar to. The master’s programmes that those alumni chose are then presented to the student with a link to the website, information about admission requirements, costs, etc. You can see it as a sort of ‘people who bought this book were also interested in ...’ In almost all recommendations, alumni who followed the suggested master’s programme provide firsthand reviews. The tool, however, will not replace academic advisers, but rather support them in their work. Oscar van den Wijngaard and Vera Bossel, my colleagues at UCM who also conduct educational research, have developed workshops to embed the tool in the curriculum.” Alumni In the coming years there will be more and more UCM alumni whose data can be entered, thus making the tool increasingly important. Manie: “The more alumni, the more specific the recommendations. Our current students are growing up with the tool, so to speak, so perhaps they will be even more motivated to help new students by providing their information for use in the tool.” Manie and

the DKE master’s student who developed the data-mining algorithm, Alexandru Surpatean, have now made a proposal for the UM-wide use of the tool. “We don’t know yet if we can go ahead and build it. But we see endless possibilities for all faculties. At SBE, for example, you could use it for career planning and internships; in European Studies, you could link students to lobbying agencies in Brussels for internships; and at the FHML it could help students find internships in hospitals. You know, educational data mining is still in its infancy, so this tool gives us an edge on many other national and international institutions.”

“The tool is great, especially for third-year students. It helps you cluster your courses and see what you’ve done so far, but also to see what academic field would be suitable for you in the future. There are so many master’s programmes in the world that it’s hard to know which one to choose. It’s good to see what other UCM students did and what they thought of it.” Lina Hedwig (21, third-year UCM student)

“This is only the first year, but students in the coming years will benefit even more. The nicest part is seeing that other UCM students went on to really good universities and great master’s programmes. Especially with the very broad education we get at UCM, you sometimes wonder what direction to take. It gives you a good feeling to see that many interesting roads are open to you.” Undine Rubeze (21, third-year UCM student)


European grant

Harald Schmidt

Radical medicine:

smart drugs to save the brain By Loek Kusiak

A drug that halts the breakdown of neurons after a stroke, diagnostics that detect hypertension before blood pressure rises, and an imaging technique that localises vascular disease even before symptoms occur. This is the work for which Professor Harald Schmidt, MD, PhD, has been awarded a European research grant worth â‚Ź 2.3 million. Schmidt specialises in researching vascular diseases at Maastricht University (UM), and with this new grant under his belt, further breakthroughs may be just around the corner.


Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death worldwide. And stroke is a particular problem – there is only one drug available to treat a stroke, and it has so many side effects that 90% of patients go without. “We simply need more and better drugs!”, says Schmidt, vascular diseases researcher, pharmacologist and UM professor of Personalised Medicine. An important risk factor for a stroke is high blood pressure, which – for those who survive – often results in partial paralysis. “But we can explain at most 5% of the causes of high blood pressure”, says Schmidt. “In the other 95% of patients we have no idea what’s causing their high blood pressure – and thus no clue how to treat it.” “You can compare high blood pressure with a car that’s going too fast without the driver realising his foot is on the accelerator. The drugs currently on the market put the brakes on, but without releasing the accelerator. Which is not the smartest way to reduce a car’s speed. What’s more, it appears that different patients also have different kinds of accelerators. The challenge is to find a diagnosis and treatment that blocks the individual accelerator for cardiovascular diseases in each different patient.” For his efforts to prevent and treat cardiovascular diseases, Schmidt, a German national, received an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant in 2011. This is the most prestigious European research grant, awarded by the European Research Council to individual scientists engaged in exceptionally innovative research. “I’m incredibly thankful to my peers. You pretty much need a triple-A rating from everyone who reviews your work to make it. I know my research is risky, but it’s so exciting to think of the potential benefits.” Top research Particularly gratifying for Schmidt is to have received almost the maximum possible amount of the grant. This allows him to supplement his international team with top recruits and cutting-edge equipment. “All of this underscores that fact that UM really is on the international map. This was also why Martin Paul attracted me to Maastricht from Australia two years ago. I like to work in stimulating environments and focus my research on topics of societal relevance. The importance of the patient and interaction with excellent clinical researchers is paramount in my work.” In 2010, Schmidt demonstrated this importance with a groundbreaking discovery. With his combined Dutch/ German research team, Schmidt discovered the NOX4 gene which, during a stroke, produces the reactive oxygen compound hydrogen peroxide (used in bleach and other highly reactive chemicals). This causes neurons to break down in a process known as oxidative stress. “This gene

was identified ten years ago in the kidneys,” says Schmidt, “but back then no-one knew that it would exacerbate the brain damage after a stroke. We were able to demonstrate this by way of gene deletion.” Promising approach Tests on mice with a new drug were shown to halt the production by the gene NOX4 of oxygen radicals during a stroke. The reduction in brain damage was significant, even when the drug was not administered until hours after the stroke. According to Schmidt, this is the “most promising new therapeutic approach” for stroke. For this finding, he was also nominated for the Huibregtsen Award of the Science and Society Evening Foundation in 2011. “We’ve also applied for a patent and have been forming agreements with pharmaceutical manufacturers to validate and develop this principle, for example by finding even better compounds or other indications”, says Schmidt. It doesn’t hurt that all major patents on drugs for cardiovascular diseases have now all run out. “There’s been no real innovation in this area for over 20 years. So this medical need drives innovative, fundamental research on new drugs that is just starting to take off.” Personalised medicine Thanks to the ERC grant, Schmidt can set up a broad, fiveyear follow-up study on the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and the development of new drugs. Oxygen radicals probably contribute to the cell damage in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s too, meaning that any new drugs developed may also be used in fighting those diseases. And in addition to this hypothesis-driven research, Schmidt will be able to ‘go fishing’ for new and unsuspected disease mechanisms. Besides new mechanism-based drugs, this could involve a new diagnostic chip and imaging techniques that allow diseases to be detected at much earlier stages. “The holy grail of medicine now is, for every patient, to find the right drug, at the right time, in the right dose.”

Harald Schmidt Harald Schmidt (1959) did both a medical and a pharmaceutical degree, and is now an international leader in cardiovascular pharmacology and drug discovery. In the lab of the later Nobel laureate, Ferid Murad (USA), he elucidated the biosynthesis of a new vascular factor. His work has led to about 200 publications, numerous patents, two compounds that are now in clinical development, one diagnostic on the market, and two spin-off biotech companies. He has worked as a professor, head of department, centre director and adjunct dean in the USA, Germany and Australia.


Dies Natalis Theo Bovens and Gerard Mols

On Friday 13 January 2012, Maastricht University celebrated its 36th anniversary, commonly known as Dies Natalis. This event included a symposium where young, talented academics presented their research and the official Dies celebration. The official Dies celebration was held in the Sint Janskerk. Rector Magnificus Prof. Dr Gerard Mols’s speech It takes three to tango discussed multidisciplinarity in an academic context. Prof. Wim Gijselaers gave the keynote speech entitled What if learning is leading. Prizes and awards

Prof. Albert Goldberg of Harvard Medical School received an honorary doctorate presented by honorary supervisor Prof. Annemie Schols. The Professor of Cell Biology was honored for his groundbreaking and internationally acclaimed

work that has led to, for example, new treatments for certain types of cancer. The Education Prize 2011 was awarded to two staff members from the School of Business and Economics, Bas van Diepen and Christian Kerckhofs. The following seven graduates (including a team of five students) received the Student Prize 2011: Jessica Maltha (FHML), Jelly Soffers (FHML), Felicia Fall (FL), Aidas Massiliunas (SBE), Paul Beckman, Alexander Hoppe, Katharina Jautz, Lara Schartau and Julia Schmälter (FASoS), Mario Senden (FPN) and Andrés Mideros Mora (FHS).

The UM Rector professor Gerard Mols received a Royal Decoration from the Governor of Limburg, Theo Bovens. Mols was appointed Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau for outstanding services both in his main position as rector and in other positions.

RWTH Aachen University and Maastricht University set to establish “Cooperation of Excellence on Advanced Biobased Materials” Maastricht University (UM) and RWTH Aachen University intend to establish a cross-border European research institute for advanced biobased materials. Located in the Chemelot Chemical Innovation Community in the Dutch province of Limburg, the partners will strive for excellence in the latest biobased materials science. Researchers of international repute will support the new partnership between UM, RWTH Aachen and various companies at the Chemelot Campus. The campus focuses on “CHEMaterials” (Chemistry and Materials) and is devel-


oping into a unique, open-innovation campus with the “triple helix” cooperation of UM, DSM and the Province of Limburg. With this initiative, UM is furthering its ambition to intensify research on natural sciences and technology parallel to the development of the Chemelot Campus, and is contributing to the international objectives of Brainport 2020. RWTH Aachen is providing essential engineering expertise for this development. By establishing a joint, cross-border research institute at Chemelot, UM and RWTH Aachen are aiming for a paradigm shift, replacing the traditional building blocks for

polymer materials with sustainable materials and supporting the development of new materials.

RWTH Aachen University

Frits van Merode appointed Dean of Sciences Frits van Merode, professor of Logistics and Operations Management in Health Care, has been appointed Dean of Sciences as of 1 November 2011. In this position, he will lead the development of education and research in natural sciences and technology, focusing in particular on the planned master’s programmes and research on Biobased

Materials and Systems Biology. Van Merode will also be responsible for promoting research and education in the field of ‘smart devices’. These developments are closely related to the Maastricht Science Programme, the new natural sciences programme under the existing ‘Liberal Arts and Sciences’ cluster.

Frits van Merode

Limited health literacy for almost half of Europeans Almost half of all Europeans show inadequate or problematic levels of health literacy, according to the results of the European Health Literacy Survey published at the European Health Literacy Conference. These results represent a fundamental challenge for citizens in making qualified decisions about their health, and for healthcare professionals

in communicating with health consumers, which can lead to inefficiencies in healthcare services. The survey, conducted by a consortium led by Maastricht University, provided first-time population data on health literacy across eight European countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece,

Fourth and final grant awarded to top 3% students 460 Maastricht University (UM) students were awarded a top 3% certificate and the accompanying grant equalling the amount of their tuition fees for the academic year 2010/11. This was be the fourth – and final – year of this groundbreaking initiative. Unfortunately, the grant is to be discontinued due to government cuts. The recipients reflect the international character of the student body. Five received the grant for the fourth time, meaning they have essentially

Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain). It measured people’s ability to access, understand, analyse and apply health information to make informed decisions in order to maintain their health, prevent disease and seek treatment in case of illness.

Top 3% ceremony at the Faculty of Humanities and Sciences

received a full study grant for both their bachelor’s and master’s programmes. The 3% grant was a UM initiative taken to attract talented Dutch and international students. Both play an important role in UM’s Problem-Based Learning system, in which student interaction is essential. Talented students bring an extra dimension to the programme that serves to both motivate and benefit the other students.


Research and society

Jim van Os

“Life sucks, deal with it” By Annelotte Huiskes

According to Jim van Os, professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology, psychological vulnerability is part of the human condition. Calling on professionals to help deal with every manifestation of this vulnerability is thus not only futile, but also unaffordable. “This is partly about accepting your vulnerability and learning to live with it. Or as Freud said: ‘The art is to be equally unhappy as everyone else, not unhappier.’ The expectation of always being happy plays tricks on people.” Jim van Os and his research team have gained international recognition for their innovative research on the role of environmental factors in the development of schizophrenia and depression. A large-scale European study on the relationship between the brain and its environment is currently underway, coordinated by Maastricht University (UM). “We’re investigating


the brain in relation to the environment and genetics, with the specific goal of preventing and treating psychiatric disorders. We look at how the brain continually responds to changing environments, and how this can trigger symptoms of anxiety, depression and psychosis. Which environments can cause psychiatric impairment, and what are the underlying

mechanisms? People think too much in terms of nature versus nurture. All human illnesses, including mental disorders, are in part genetically predetermined; this in itself is not so interesting. What is interesting is how this genetic predisposition manifests itself – largely by making people more or less sensitive to certain environments.”

His research team found scientific evidence to support four environmental factors that influence the development of schizophrenia: traumatic experiences at a young age, growing up in an urban environment, social exclusion and the use of cannabis. Their findings have been published in such leading journals as Nature and The Lancet. The time now seems ripe for the introduction of a new scientific paradigm: it is environmental factors that determine whether certain genetic predispositions will manifest or not. Van Os has since become UM’s most widely cited neuroscientist, which may explain why he was asked this year to join the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the nation’s most prestigious scientific organisation which issues advice directly to the government. Mental healthcare cutbacks In this role, Van Os will also advise on the restructuring of the Dutch mental healthcare system (GGZ). In these times of economic crisis this sector, too, is facing significant budget cuts. Each year, 20% of the Dutch population reports symptoms of addiction, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and psychoses. Approximately 30% to 40% will experience these symptoms at some point in their lifetime. How does Van Os explain this enormous demand for healthcare? “Roughly 2% of the population suffers from a serious psychiatric disorder that arises at a young age and often threatens to become chronic. About 80% of bipolar and other psychotic disorders arise between the ages of 15 and 30, and 90% of these people experience their first severe depression between the ages of 15 and 40. Nearly all psychiatric illnesses manifest for the first time during adolescence. In my opinion, this figure of 20% per year does not involve severe disorders, but rather people with milder forms

of anxiety and depression caused by lifestyle factors. Our society is becoming increasingly complex, people have to work harder, the pressure is mounting, there is an increase in unrealistic expectations of happiness and self-realisation, and at the same time less social cohesion. All these factors amplify our natural psychological vulnerability. But this vulnerability is something we should accept and, more importantly, learn to live with. We should abandon the idea that we must seek immediate oneon-one professional help. This is unaffordable and, as it turns out, not very effective for milder forms of anxiety and depression. Meta-analyses on the effects of psychotherapy and antidepressants in this group of people have shown that the results are modest at best and much smaller than expected. I think we should introduce a different model. I call it the ‘life sucks’ model: life is a rollercoaster and if you’re bothered by it, you should make an effort to fix it early. Lifestyle changes and self-management techniques are just as effective, if not more so, than psychotherapy. Our research shows that mindfulness therapy, for example, can be extremely effective in combating all sorts of anxiety and depression symptoms – it makes people more positive and it’s something they can do entirely on their own.” Self-management Van Os sees opportunities for progress by simply separating the wheat from the chaff. The cost of mental healthcare in the Netherlands has skyrocketed from €2.5 billion to €5.5 billion in just seven years, and more and more

mental health practices are opening every day – yet, the need for such care has not diminished. “Good assessment indicators are crucial. Cognitive therapy, if properly prescribed and administered, is still a good thing, just not for all forms of depression. I was discussing this at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport yesterday: we need good initial diagnostics to be located near GP offices and done by a psychiatrist or an experienced clinical psychologist. This may seem expensive, but in the end it will save us money. Prescribing antidepressants to 800,000 people is also expensive and we now know that they only work for people with severe depression – the rest can be explained by the placebo effect. And GPs tend to prescribe the most antidepressants, even though many are not qualified to diagnose whether someone is actually suffering from severe depression.” Higher science Van Os is currently awaiting approval for a large project he hopes to launch next year in Maastricht, aiming to examine the underlying brain mechanisms involved in the nonpharmacological treatment of psychiatric symptoms. “What makes regular jogging effective? Why does mindfulness work? How does psychotherapy work? The bio-bio-bio hype, which reduces the human being to a series of biomedical processes, is in decline. You can’t reduce people to molecules. If you ignore the human experience and environment you’ll never make great discoveries. I think of it as a higher science, in which various disciplines can be combined.”

Jim van Os Jim van Os (1960) studied medicine in Amsterdam and went on to study psychiatry in Jakarta, Casablanca, Bordeaux and London, and epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. He has worked at UM since 1995, first as professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and later as chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.


20 years of the Maastricht Treaty

Sophie Vanhoonacker and Thomas Christiansen look at a photo of the signing of The Treaty of Maastricht at the provincial government building.

“The crisis will clear the air” By Hans van Vinkeveen

The 20th anniversary of the Maastricht Treaty recently came and went, but was there really cause to celebrate? What’s next for the European Union (EU)? Sophie Vanhoonacker and Thomas Christiansen, professors at the newly founded Maastricht Centre for European Governance, are optimistic. “The crisis calls for strong decisions to be made.” “Where do we start?” the professors sigh when asked about the significance of the Maastricht Treaty. After all, the implications for Maastricht alone were immense. The treaty placed the city firmly on the world map, giving rise to a new-found reputation that prompted the renaming of the Rijks-universiteit Limburg as Maastricht University. Not to mention the treaty’s unparalleled significance for the EU.


“The huge impact of the treaty isn’t hard to understand. At that time, two decades ago, there was talk of a new European context”, Vanhoonacker explains. “The Cold War was ending, the German state was reunifying. This made it possible to create a common foreign policy. The decision was also made to introduce a common currency: the euro. From that point on, member states could align their economic and monetary policies. The Maastricht

Treaty became the most important reform in the history of European integration.” Strong decisions That the EU is facing turbulent times 20 years later does not detract from the value of the treaty, say the professors. And no, the euro was not a mistake. “It’s a strong currency that’s brought us a great deal of prosperity”, says Christiansen. “The economic

crisis is really not that bad. It will help clear the air. Member states now have a decision to make: do they distance themselves from the EU or opt for closer integration under the supervision of the EU? The crisis calls for strong decisions to be made. In ten years we’ll look back at a time when Europe truly started developing.” “The advantage of the crisis is that it highlights the flaws in the framework of the eurozone”, adds Vanhoonacker. “The member states have shown very little respect for the rules that they themselves created. One thing is becoming increasingly clear: an economic union will not function properly in the absence of a fiscal union with a political foundation.” Hypocrisy According to Christiansen, national politicians were at the root of the crisis. “They were not honest about the choices they had to make. They glossed over the fact that the member states would lose their autonomy, and sold the euro as something that would bring only benefits. It’s common knowledge that politicians say one thing and do another.” In his inaugural lecture, Christiansen described this phenomenon as ‘organised hypocrisy’. “You see a lot of negligence and fear of making strong decisions. If you announce

Thomas Christiansen and Sophie Vanhoonacker

publicly that Europe is against the Netherlands, you shouldn’t be surprised when citizens start to distance themselves or even turn hostile.” Vanhoonacker: “Politicians now face the difficult task of increasing citizen engagement in Europe. But instead of doing this, they’re turning Europe into a scapegoat. For example, we saw that they refused to take the Dutch referendum on the European constitution seriously. That is, until they realised there was too little support and started making panicked threats: we’re risking a new war, that kind of nonsense. Citizens are not stupid and understand all too well that general issues such as climate change and the financial crisis can best be solved in a European context.” Elitist project Politicians need to explain the relevance of the EU project to their citizens. This, according to Christiansen, will be one of the great challenges of the future – and it is not one that can be solved through counterproductive PR campaigns. “Actions speak louder than words. An example would be resolving the debt crisis and balancing the economic chequebook. They should also take steps to prevent the marginalisation of EU foreign policy.” “The future belongs to the European integration project”, says Vanhoonacker. But to date, this has been a predominantly elitist project. “Over the next few years, the EU should get off its high horse. Politicians should start talking about Europe as though it’s their own country.” Things will improve, but it will take time. “The integration process started in the 1950s and, in light of world history, remains a very young project.”

Maastricht Centre for European Governance The new Maastricht Centre for European Governance (MCEG), an EU-funded ‘Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence’, will bring together expertise in teaching and research on European integration from various UM faculties and strengthen links with local and regional partners. The centre’s activities also involve organising conferences and workshops, reaching out to civil society and contributing to the further development of innovative teaching tools. For more information, please visit

Thomas Christiansen Thomas Christiansen (1965) is Jean Monnet Professor of European Institutional Politics at FASoS and teaches on the Research Master in European Studies and Master in European Public Affairs programmes. He is executive editor of the Journal of European Integration and academic coordinator of the Observatory of Parliaments after the Lisbon Treaty (OPAL) project. He is also a member of the steering committee of the Standing Group on the European Union of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR). Sophie Vanhoonacker Sophie Vanhoonacker (1962) is Jean Monnet Professor and Chair of Administrative Governance at FASoS, where she also heads the Department of Political Science. She teaches various courses on EU institutions, decision making and EU foreign policy. Her research focuses on the role of bureaucracy in the European foreign policy process. She also co-directs the faculty’s Administrative Governance research programme.



Bertrand Candelon and Olaf Sleijpen

“Never waste a good crisis” By Jos Cortenraad

While the economic crisis does not bode well for most, economists are having a field day. Professionally speaking, of course. Falling stocks, mounting debts, struggling pension funds and a euro fighting for its life: it is an inexhaustible source of inspiration and debate. Olaf Sleijpen and Bertrand Candelon, both professors at Maastricht University (UM), hold up their end in a discussion of causes and solutions. It is 2 December when the economists sit down for a lively debate in Candelon’s modest office at the UM School of Business and Economics. In a show of perfect symbolism, it’s also on this day that the largest shopping centre in Heerlen threatens to collapse. “Yes, we live in an interesting time”, laughs the French-speaking Belgian, at once enthusiastic and foreboding. “Perhaps we’ll look back in a few years on a period in which international relations changed drastically. Europe still sees itself as a world leader, but if politicians don’t start making decisions, that same Europe could be on the verge of financial collapse. That means goodbye euro and goodbye unity, and hello economic shrinkage. An ideal breeding ground for unhappiness and unrest. I foresee riots, demonstrations and political upheaval. This may be going a bit far, but you could even compare it to the Arab Spring.”


Watchdog Sleijpen looks somewhat doubtful. “As befits us academics, we’re not in complete agreement. I’m not as pessimistic as my colleague. The financial system won’t collapse that quickly and I don’t foresee the euro simply disappearing. But Bertrand is correct in saying it’s high time to make some crucial decisions. We must start by tackling the mountain of debt in the EU as soon as possible. I’m also in favour of introducing a European watchdog to monitor the budgets of all EU member states. Those who don’t have their affairs in order or who fail to follow the budgetary regulations should be penalised. You could compare it to the fines, now widely accepted, that are dealt out by the Commissioner of Competition to firms that engage in cartels.”

In this case, Greece would find itself in serious trouble. “Well, it’s too easy to blame the crisis on Greece alone”, Sleijpen continues. In addition to his professorship, Sleijpen works for De Nederlandsche Bank. “If you want to address the causes, think back to 2004 when Germany and France failed to comply with the budgetary deficit regulations. Had the Stability Pact been upheld, and had there been early economic interventions in these countries, we would not be facing such a big European crisis.” Solidarity Should the strong countries pay off the debts of the weaker ones? Sleijpen is a firm advocate of such solidarity. “One way or another, we’ll all be paying off this debt together. Our banks and pension funds have a lot of outstanding debt in southern Europe. If these countries were to go bankrupt, that money would be gone. I believe it’s cheaper in the long term to help these weaker countries and at the same time to force them to play by the rules. The risk of EU disintegration is far too high and no-one benefits from these underlying quarrels.” “Indeed”, Candelon says. “If we hope to remain an international player, we must take a collective stand. We have to cooperate, to invest in education, innovation and greater production capacity. It’s precisely in times like these that governments should be making investments rather than cutbacks. If worst comes to worst we’ll print more money, with inflation as the result. Then, once things start getting better, we can introduce cutbacks and savings.”

According to Candelon, it is not inconceivable that the euro could eventually fall. “I’m afraid that no bold decisions will be made. Insecurity is detrimental to financial markets and the consequences will be disastrous.” Sleijpen takes a lighter view: “If European politicians start making decisions, we can start climbing out of the depths. As the Americans say, ‘Never waste a good crisis’. It will certainly take two to three years and a new Maastricht Treaty, but I see no other solution. It’s a question of perseverance and hard work. And if we maintain solidarity, we may even come out of this crisis stronger than when we went in.”

Olaf Sleijpen Olaf Sleijpen (1970) studied economics at UM and obtained his PhD at the University of Groningen. After his time at De Nederlandsche Bank, he worked as an adviser to Wim Duisenberg at the European Central Bank and for the ABP and APG pension funds. Sleijpen is now UM professor of European Economic Policy and has resumed his work at De Nederlandsche Bank. Bertrand Candelon Bertrand Candelon (1970) studied economics at the universities of Paris and Leuven, graduating from the latter with his PhD on cyclical variation. He is now professor of International Monetary Economics in Maastricht and an adviser to the European Commission. Candelon has previously worked at the universities of Leuven, Paris and Berlin.

Printing money As a central banker, Sleijpen is not keen on simply churning out more banknotes. “It’s dangerous. I don’t believe in ‘just a little inflation’ – it’s like being ‘just a little bit pregnant’. Besides, inflation would further erode our existing pension funds. With €800 billion in the pension piggy bank, this would be bad news for the Netherlands. Of course I believe in investing in knowledge and innovation, but we should also accept that we need to cut down on spending. We failed to save during times of prosperity and bought overpriced houses on credit. The Netherlands has the highest per capita mortgage debt in the world. This is a ticking time bomb, and we now have to pay the price for our actions. It’s as simple as that. Cut back on the holidays, drive the same car for one more year. This bill must be paid. The economy is not the exclusive realm of politicians, banks and insurance companies. We are the economy.”


PhD research

Undermining the motherhood ideal By Femke Kools

Having and raising a child is a wonderful experience. And thanks to birth control, as a woman that choice is entirely yours to make. Life is yours for the making and the world is yours for the taking. This, in a nutshell, is the current ideal of motherhood in the Netherlands. That first-time motherhood also comes with its share of difficulties is less openly discussed. Except in literature, which often revolves around topics that run counter to the ideal, such as infanticide and infertility. In her PhD dissertation De idylle voorbij (Beyond the ideal), Josje Weusten analyses the normative ideal of motherhood and its portrayal in Dutch literature from 1980 to 2010. Weusten knows from personal experience just how quickly the glow of pregnancy can fade after the birth of your first child. “But that wasn’t what motivated me to write my PhD; I’d been researching the topic for two years already. Although I was very aware of the false idealisation of motherhood, during my own pregnancy I’d catch myself thinking: ‘This is going to be wonderful.’ But the pregnancy and certainly the first few months after my daughter was born were a real letdown. In the baby journal I kept during her first year, I found myself only writing down the fun and easy things. Apparently, it’s next to impossible to escape this ideal, which is really sad.” Rosy ideal The basic premise of Weusten’s dissertation was the conflict between the everyday ideal of motherhood and its


problematisation in literature. Using new and existing research on parenting books, women’s magazines and advertisements for baby products, Weusten points out in her dissertation that the rosy ideal of motherhood has become increasingly dominant since the 1970s. “You do occasionally come across opposing views, but these often involve an easily solved problem or depict women that don’t represent the Dutch motherhood ideal: nonwhite or with a full-time career.” The second part of her dissertation focuses on literature. “I wanted to start by exploring the hypothesis that motherhood is largely problematised in literary fiction.” By analysing the descriptions of more than 2000 works of prose in the Dutch Central Catalogue, she was able to identify 549 novels on parenting. Of these, 148 focused on

motherhood and 90 were categorised as literary works. “My analysis showed that motherhood is indeed problematised in nearly 90% of these novels. And over 60% of them were written by women, which is surprising given that only 30% of the fictional prose of recent decades was written by women. This formed the more socio-literary component of my research.” To investigate the intrinsic relationship between literature and the motherhood ideal, Weusten chose four novels to examine more closely. Two of these revolve around infertility: De reis naar het kind (The journey to the child) by Vonne van der Meer and Nieuwe buren (New neighbours) by Saskia Noort. The other two deal with infanticide: Een hart van steen (A heart of stone) by Renate Dorrestein and Met onbekende bestemming (Destination unknown) by

Josje Weusten

Maya Rasker. “The combination of socio-literary interpretation and fictional analysis is quite unique in Dutch literary research”, says Weusten. Counterweight “I chose these books because I expected to find in them a counterweight to the motherhood ideal, and because readers and reviewers found a link between these books and the social ideal of motherhood.” And indeed, they seem to criticise the ideal of pleasure in all sorts of ways, such as by introducing world views that do not fit the modern view of humanity: A heart of stone harks back to Greek tragedy, where the concept of fate plays a central role and man does not have full control over his life. In this way, the ideal of motherhood is undermined. “All four books clearly

show that the interests of mother and child can clash, which may prove problematic. This contradicts the ideal, which assumes that mother and child are one and thus what is good for the mother is automatically good for the child. Of course, these are interpretations based on the questions I posed and the methodology I used. But by making these choices transparent, you can ensure the scientific validity of this type of research.” And what of the fathers? “They are largely absent. Just walk into any Prénatal store and you’ll see what I mean. But as long as mothers continue to make themselves responsible for the majority of the parenting duties, from a marketing point of view this absence is completely understandable.” It’s not for nothing that her

PhD reads: “The emancipation of the sexes is far from complete as long as equality in the Netherlands focuses primarily on the participation of mothers in the workforce and not the participation of fathers in parenting.”

Josje Weusten Josje Weusten (1980) studied Arts and Sciences at Maastricht University, graduating in 2003 with her thesis on the construction of motherhood through the personal stories of mothers of autistic children. In 2004 she became a researcher and tutor at the Centre for Gender and Diversity, where she began working on her PhD in 2007. Weusten successfully defended her dissertation in late 2011.



Junior high school class having a lesson from the HEBAT! drug education programme

“Mission Accomplished” By Margot Krijnen

For five years, Professor Harm Hospers, PhD, dean of University College Maastricht, participated in IMPACT, a successful and multidisciplinary EU programme on HIV prevention and care in Western Java, Indonesia. Competency Psychologist Harm Hospers used to be a member of the UM RESHAPE group, which conducts research projects on the behavioural aspects of HIV/AIDS. “I’m used to working in multidisciplinary teams on integrated projects. I’m convinced that problems concerning drug use and HIV/AIDS can only be solved if you work on all their causes and consequences. Therefore, you need a team that consists of experts from many different disciplines. Together with the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, the Institute of Tropical Medicine in


Antwerp and the Universitas Padjajaran in Bandung, Indonesia, we submitted a proposal to build up HIV competency in Indonesia. In 2007, Padjajaran University and the Dr Hasan Sadikin Hospital in Bandung received sufficient funding for a five-year, integrated programme, managed by the Dutch development agency Cordaid.” Shared syringes For a long time, Indonesia remained almost unaffected by HIV, partly because of its very strict drug policies. The first AIDS patient was reported in 1986. Today, over 25 years later, more

than 300,000 Indonesians are infected with HIV/AIDS. Fifty percent of the infections are caused by the shared use of syringes. In the province of Western Java, with over 40 million inhabitants, there are about 25,000 heroin users. Hospers: “In Bandung, they realised AIDS was on the rise when prisoners in the narcotics prison started to die of it. Indonesia is extremely strict about drug use. You can spend years in prison if you’re found with a syringe on you. So heroin users are more inclined to share syringes, which spreads the infection.”

Community “We realised that drastic measures were necessary, but that they would only be effective if we worked in all fields: prevention, testing, medical and psychological treatment, information on safe sex, including in high schools ... And not by us, the European partners, but by the Indonesian team itself. We were there to provide them with the expert knowledge and practical competencies, but they had to do the job. When we started five years ago, there was hardly any addiction care and very little was known about HIV testing or medical treatment for HIV infections. Another matter was acceptance of the programme by the Indonesian authorities. Our Indonesian partners spoke with the ministries of education and religion, the mayor of Bandung, the dean of the Medical School, imams, teachers... You can imagine that sex and drug education in schools could be a sensitive issue in a strict religious community. That’s how we got the support we needed.”

Harm Hospers at Impact Booth at Bandung Ideas

Targets attained “Our targets? We wanted to provide medical care in the narcotics prison to those who were already infected with HIV. We wanted to set up addiction

care, good medical care in the hospital, but also database management and a very competent laboratory group. We involved public health experts to provide information about the health economics of drug and HIV/AIDS treatment, also in terms of prevention. And we succeeded. Over 4000 people were tested. More than 2000 infected drug users, their partners and sometimes even children are receiving treatment, including in prison. AIDS mortality in prison is now down to zero. Many drug users are receiving methadone from one of the methadone centres. We developed adherence programmes for those who are receiving medication. And those who respond well to HIV medication are less likely to transmit HIV because the virus is no longer in their blood. We developed two curricula for junior

high schools, one on drug education, the other on sexual reproductive health. Now, five years later, the curricula have been presented in 52 schools to 18,000 children. All this has a great impact for the future.” Compliments Currently, 70 Indonesians are working in the project, ranging from psychologists to internists and community to laboratory workers. The European team provided the input and support. But it is the Indonesians who have realised the project. “I’m impressed with what our Indonesian partners have achieved in these five years. They’ve truly developed Bandung into a centre of excellence in HIV/AIDS, but also in drug and addiction care. We all applaud them for that. It’s incredible how well our multidisciplinary team worked throughout these five years. It’s a classic example of how a project should turn out: a sustainable, solid and successful achievement. Mission accomplished.”

Harm Hospers Professor Harm Hospers, PhD, holds a chair in Applied Health Psychology. His research focuses primarily on HIV/AIDS prevention, specifically behavioural determinants and evidence-based behavioural interventions. He was appointed dean of University College Maastricht in 2009.


Professor – Student

Milo Schoenmaker and Arno Korsten

Professor Arno Korsten and student Milo Schoenmaker By Graziella Runchina

Administrative troubles. This, loosely translated, is the title of the dissertation (Bestuurlijk gedonder) for which Milo Schoenmaker received his PhD from Maastricht University’s (UM) Faculty of Law last year. An external PhD candidate, Schoenmaker – in his daily life the mayor of Bussum – studied Dutch municipal councils facing administrative problems. Political disagreements and major ideological conflicts rarely cause administrative crises in municipal councils. Instead, the crucial factors for administrative stability seem to be the individual qualities of local administrators and the solidarity of the coalition. “This is one of the main conclusions I was able to draw after identifying how many mayors, executive councillors and/or boards were ousted between 1998 and 2010 in all Dutch municipalities”, explains Schoenmaker, sitting in the office of his supervisor Arno Korsten in the former provincial government building.


Fixed patterns For his research, Schoenmaker approached every council in the country – 431 at that time. Municipal records revealed that 699 executive councillors and mayors had been forced to resign and 227 boards were ousted. “Ultimately, nine municipalities were deemed administratively problematic”, says Schoenmaker. “Typical of these councils is that their administrative problems arose in multiple periods and often led to serious administrative crises.” He then examined whether any fixed patterns could be found during such crises in four

of these municipalities: Delfzijl, Den Helder, Leiden and Zundert. And indeed there could: Schoenmaker concluded that personal factors seemed to play a significant role in the dissolution of boards. “Mayors and/or executive councillors who lack the capacity to identify and respond to issues, coupled

with poor communication between coalition partners, seem to be the determining factor in tackling problems. Every municipality faces difficult issues, and it can happen that mayors or executive councillors come under attack and tensions arise. The art is to understand one another and minimise the problems. If the underlying tensions are too high or if there are past issues that remain unresolved, it often just doesn’t work. The result being that the coalition is put under real pressure and threatens to collapse.” Motivated PhD candidate In Schoenmaker, Korsten saw a highly motivated PhD candidate. “As an external PhD student you have to be extremely driven in order to succeed. That’s the first requirement. On top of that, as a political scientist Milo was very much in tune with the topic. He also writes well and, most importantly, had a realistic idea of the demands of doing a PhD.” Moreover, Schoenmaker chose an interesting topic that immediately fascinated them both. “In fact, Milo’s dissertation is the logical continuation of an earlier study that I’d conducted myself on mayors who’d fallen from office”, Korsten explains. Schoenmaker was equally captivated by the theme, and keen to begin. “When I first started my PhD I’d already been mayor of Bussum for several years. By that time I’d got to know the ropes, which gave me the time and space to work on my PhD.” Easy access As a mayor himself, Schoenmaker had easy access to his colleagues around the country. “I didn’t come up against any psychological barriers. All of my fellow mayors gave me carte blanche to ask them any and all questions. And I just went on from there. To keep it as authentic as possible, I realised my goal couldn’t be to spare my fellow colleagues. I was in this project as a researcher, not as a mayor.”

Intense “Maintaining good contact between supervisor and student is very important,” Korsten stresses. “It was quite intense. Milo occasionally came down south and kept me closely informed of his progress via email. We must have sent about 500 emails back and forth. In hindsight, I think I could have provided him with even more targeted and effective support. A PhD requires constant interaction, but it shouldn’t get too crazy.” Unmatched Schoenmaker couldn’t agree more: “Arno was my academic safety net. He is utterly unmatched when it comes to sheer amount of knowledge in this area.

I also learned a great deal from him on a more personal level. He taught me to approach the problems that I come up against from various perspectives. Another point he often hammered home was never to be satisfied with the end result. He made sure I was editing and polishing my dissertation right down to the very last second.” “We did well together”, Korsten concludes. “I’m proud of the final dissertation. As a supervisor I would have been happy to have graduated with it myself. I think that speaks for itself.”

Arno Korsten Arno Korsten (1947) studied Western sociology at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, graduating in 1979 with a degree in social sciences. He is now extraordinary professor of Local Government Administration at UM and professor of Business and Managerial Science at the Open University. Milo Schoenmaker Milo Schoenmaker (1967) studied political science at the University of Amsterdam. After a career in journalism he turned to politics, first as a local councillor and from 1998 as an executive councillor in the Haarlemmermeer municipal council. He has been mayor of Bussum since 2003.



Herman Kingma

The art of balance By Femke Kools

It is 1972. In the train from Amsterdam to Utrecht sits the 22-year-old student Herman Kingma, an expensive Japanese goldfish in a plastic bag by his side. The fish is sick. Kingma is responsible for hundreds of goldfish used in research at the University of Amsterdam. And since he was put in charge, far fewer fish have died. Now 61, Kingma is one of the world’s leading experts on the vestibular system, which contributes to our sense of balance. With his research, he is leading the charge in the development of the first artificial human vestibular system. Read on for a shaky study path that led to a top career in Maastricht.


He is not a medical doctor, but a vestibulologist. “I came up with the name myself 25 years ago. It refers to the vestibular system, which helps us maintain our balance. The study of the vestibular system is known as vestibulology.” Kingma treats patients with severe balance disorders at the ear, nose and throat (ENT) outpatient clinic of the Maastricht University Medical Centre + (MUMC) . He makes diagnoses, informs patients on the cause of their complaints and advises ENT doctors and surgeons on the best available treatment or medication. His is one of the top five departments in the world in the field of vestibular diagnostics. “The contact with patients motivates me enormously. Also, my background as a biophysicist provides the ideal basis for introducing sophisticated research equipment into the clinic.” Artificial organ Together with Maastricht’s Instrumental Development Engineering & Evaluation (IDEE) Department, Kingma developed a vibrating belt for people whose vestibular systems no longer function properly. “The belt has 12 vibration points around the body. If you’re leaning too far to the left, for example, the front of the belt will vibrate, allowing you to correct your stance.” Kingma and his colleagues are currently working on the world’s first artificial vestibular system. And thanks to strong partnerships with various hospital and scientific disciplines, Maastricht is one of the frontrunners in this effort. Yet his group is probably best known for its lectures both in the Netherlands and abroad on all aspects of the vestibular system. Kingma himself serves as something of a figurehead for Problem-Based Learning; by incorporating specific patient problems into his lectures, he manages to shed light on the material that even some doctors struggle with. “The physiology and disorders of the vestibular system

are quite technical and multidisciplinary phenomena that few doctors know much about. As a result, some patients don’t find out what’s wrong with them until quite late – which is a very unpleasant and uncertain situation.” In addition to this busy combination of patient care, research and education, Kingma has also been chair of the University Council since March 2010. “I find it hard to say no, plus I love bringing people together to help improve joint decision making. I also have a very strong sense of responsibility. That would have something to do with my Protestant background.” Hypochondriac A background that was certainly eventful, to say the least. It all started with his Frisian father: an accountant as well as a violinist, because music alone could not pay the bills. His first two wives both died shortly after childbirth. After the death of his second wife, her cousin came to help him with the two children. “One thing led to another, they got married and I was their second child together. My mother was and still is a remarkable woman. She was extremely devoted to my father and never once made us feel there was any difference between us children, despite having different mothers.” His father, however, never fully recovered from the loss of two wives, and was often sick. “I spent long hours at his ‘deathbed’ in the hospital: he was convinced he would die at any moment. In the end he lived to be 89.” When Kingma was nine years old, his father took out a loan and bought him an oboe worth 1000 guilders. He was destined for the music academy. “I still think it’s the most beautiful instrument; a little melancholic. But I wasn’t technically skilled enough for the academy, which I realised just in time.” Disappointed, his father

decided he should study medicine instead. “But after a few weeks I knew I didn’t fit in with the conservative Leiden students. I eventually decided to study art history in Paris.” He finished the programme, but couldn’t see himself working in a museum. So he made the pragmatic decision to follow the same programme as his best friend: biophysics (a combination of biology and physics) in Amsterdam. “My father had just got used to the idea of me entering the art history world, and then I threw him for another loop. It wasn’t really a well thought out career path, but then I never did have one of those”, he says with a shrug. The truth Kingma always strove to be the best. Spurred on, perhaps, by his father, for whom a 9 was never good enough. “I sometimes feel a sort of sadness about my childhood that I can’t quite put my finger on. But that’s part of life: you can’t have happiness without sadness.” His oldest (half) brother chose a very different path. “He is devoutly religious. He and his wife spent 35 years in Islamic Afghanistan as Protestant missionaries. He’ll sometimes send me cards that read ‘Herman, you’re searching for the truth in science, but the only real truth lies with God.’ This illustrates our differences, but I greatly respect his dedication and conviction.” Back to science. During his biophysics degree, Kingma worked part time looking after goldfish in the animaltesting lab. “I didn’t know a thing about goldfish, but whenever one got sick I would take it in a little bag to the veterinary lab in Utrecht and they would tell me what to do. I remember spending one Christmas in the lab with my then girlfriend, injecting hundreds of goldfish with antibiotics.”



After graduating he was unable to stay on in the lab, so his professor called a colleague in Leiden – a quantum biophysicist. Kingma heard him say: “Herman is one of my best students, but also very special: since he’s been looking after the goldfish, not a single one has died.” Kingma went on to obtain his PhD in Leiden but, although he learned a great deal, never felt at home in quantum physics. “Again, it was because of the people. In art history and biology, the people are often open and warm and don’t shy away from their feelings. Physicists, and particularly quantum physicists, are a different breed altogether. Even a chat about your weekend has to be related to physics somehow. You can easily get a half-hour physics debate out of the water moving in your glass.” So it comes as no surprise that Kingma prefers the company of women to men at conferences and the like. “At least then you can talk about ‘normal’ things as well.” Father History repeats itself. When he first saw the vacancy for a physicist/biologist to launch a balance centre at the Maastricht academic hospital, Kingma was so excited he considered writing a second letter to supplement the first. “My supervisor said: ‘Don’t do it. I’ll write one for you.’ When I was invited for an interview with Professor Marres in Maastricht, he said: ‘You know why you’re here, don’t you? Your supervisor wrote such an impressive letter that we had no choice but to invite you.’ Then I was given the chance to present myself. And once you get me going …” In 2001, Kingma was appointed professor of Vestibulology. His father attended the inauguration. “That was nice, yes; I was happy we were able to share that milestone.” Kingma himself is now a father of five. His oldest graduated with a PhD from UM this January, while his youngest, Anna, is now just three years old. “She brings me joy every day. She’s just Sweet with a capital ‘S’. So I don’t expect to be hanging around the university when I retire – I’ve got plenty to do at home.”


Herman Kingma Herman Kingma (1950) is professor of Vestibulology at the UM Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, and a vestibulologist and head of vestibular diagnostics at the ENT Department of the MUMC+. He leads the research on vestibular disorders at UM’s ENT Department, and also chairs the University Council

1.5 million grant for improving nursing home care To improve elderly care in nursing homes, a research group led by Maastricht professor Jan Hamers was awarded a €750,000 grant by ZonMw. Regional partners and UM will also contribute to bring the total to nearly €1.5 million for the next five years. The project focuses primarily on the role of nurses in nursing homes and aims to enhance the efficiency and evidence-based nature of their work and improve their expertise and leadership qualities. The results of ‘Nurses on the Move: towards higher quality

care in nursing homes’ will be imple-

mented on a regional, national and international level.

Due to an ageing population and the increasingly later age at which people move to nursing homes, the demand for complex nursing home care is expected to increase significantly in the coming decades. Nurses are at the heart of this 24/7 care. Their work largely determines the quality of life, the health and the daily functioning of nursing home

residents. The project consists of three interrelated subprojects to which three PhD candidates have been appointed under the supervision of a team of researchers

Talented UM researchers awarded NWO grants The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded Veni grants to seven young researchers who recently obtained their PhDs at Maastricht University (UM). Each of them will receive €250,000 to cover the costs of their research over a three-year period. A total of 159 young researchers received Veni grants from the NWO. Maastricht’s Veni laureates are Alex Remels, Wim Veling, Kristiaan Wouters

(Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences), Ewout Meijer, Lars Riecke (Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience), Friederike Mengel (School of Business and Economics) and Mark Dawson (Faculty of Law). Despite just setting out on their career paths, each of these young recipients have already demonstrated a special talent for research. The grants will enable them to further develop their ideas over the coming three years.

In addition, the NWO has awarded Rubicon grants to 28 young, promising scientists. The Rubicon initiative allows recent PhD graduates from the Netherlands to gain research experience abroad, and international researchers to work in the Netherlands. Two of the latest recipients are Nick Kilian-Hütten and Bärbel Maus, who recently obtained their PhDs in Maastricht. Kilian-Hütten will head to the USA, Maus to the UK.

New Virtual Reality Lab for psychologists Exposing people with eating disorders to food or virtual kitchens to determine the environmental factors that stimulate appetite. Simulating a robbery to determine which physical traits passersby remember of the perpetrator. These are just two examples of the research that will be conducted in the new Virtual Reality Lab at the UM Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN).

The lab can create a virtual 3D environment in which, thanks to a combination of innovative techniques, participants can move around and experience a realistic perception of reality. Someone with a fear of heights, for example, can cross a simulated bridge spanning a deep ravine, and genuinely experience the fears that would plague them in reality.


Interdisciplinary research

Hildegard Schneider

“My research is relevant for my work as dean” By Jolien Linssen

Opting for the easiest path is not in the character of Hildegard Schneider, professor of European Union Law at the Maastricht University (UM) Faculty of Law. When she was offered the position of faculty dean, she knew the financial cutbacks meant she would face hard times. So she did hesitate – but only briefly. Schneider: “I’ve known this faculty for 25 years, and have witnessed many different developments. Now we’re being confronted with new challenges, we have to make the best of it. Which is easier when you’re the dean yourself.” 26

“Actually, I was supposed to be in India today for a research project”, Schneider remarks during the interview. She is busy indeed, but seems comfortable with the role she has taken on since early September. “I enjoy what I’m doing”, she says. “Of course it would have been a nicer starting point if we had millions of euros to distribute. But it’s exciting, because I’m convinced that the quality of our work must always take top priority.” As professor of European Union Law, Schneider’s research has mainly focused on migration law. “We’re living at the heart of Europe”, she says. “But people who live or work across borders still encounter lots of legal problems related to tax law, pension law and social security law, to name but a few. Given that we’ve been working towards the free movement of people for more than 60 years, this is a tragedy.” Especially in border regions, lawyers are constantly being confronted with different judicial systems – a reality that all too often seems to be neglected. Schneider: “Our students should become more aware of the fact that there’s often a choice of law problem. Imagine that a Dutch and a German person are involved in a car accident; in that case, it’s possible to claim compensation according to either Dutch or German law. As a lawyer, you ought to know what is most advantageous for your client.” International Schneider is not only a passionate academic, but also an expert by experience. A German national living and working in the Netherlands, she also works in a field that, of old, used to be nationally oriented. “In the past 35 years our field has been internationalising at an incredible rate”, she says. “I think it’s important to educate good and internationally oriented lawyers, whose background enables them to work abroad. Our task is to create a programme that offers this possibility.” As an expert in diploma recognition, she seems to be the right person in the right place. “For policy reasons, I want to prepare our students for the job market in the best possible way. But I have to admit that investigating the recognition of diplomas in practice is a lot of fun for me. My research is of direct relevance for the functioning of an international university like ours.”

Migration Combining policymaking with research seems the key to the new dean’s working method. At present, she is involved in interdisciplinary research on migration, part of the UM research spearhead “Europe and the Globalizing World”. Schneider: “People are working in different faculties on issues of migration and nationality. We decided to jointly present our research on a website and to get together now and then. Although working across disciplines may be difficult because of different uses of the same terminology, it helps us to get a better overall picture.” Migration, of course, is a hot topic nowadays, commonly viewed with suspicion and even fear. “I find politics as it is conducted at the moment irresponsible”, says Schneider. “We’re seeing a dramatic ageing of the population, and the only way to survive this is by making this area attractive for foreigners. I’m not saying that we just need to pull people from everywhere. But as we have international students at our university, we should enable them to stay here, find a job and perhaps bring their families over.” And this, according to Schneider, holds not just for Maastricht or the Netherlands, but for Europe as a whole. Different types of workers will be needed in the future, be they European migrants or people from developing countries. This was the aim of the planned trip to India: “We’re investigating which obstacles are encountered in accessing the European market. European policies are characterised by half-heartedness: highly skilled migrants are wanted, but the climate is very unfriendly. What we need to realise is that the most prosperous countries in the end will not be those with the strictest immigration policies.”

Hildegard Schneider Hildegard Schneider studied Law, Political Science and Art History. She has been working at UM since 1986, currently as professor of European Union Law. Her research focuses mainly on the free movement of natural and legal persons, migration issues and diploma recognition. She is a scholar of the Maastricht Centre for European Law and a member of the Ius Commune research school. She has been dean of the Faculty of Law since September 2011.


Campus Venlo

Fred Brouns

Learning how the world really works By Jules Coenegracht

Venlo lies in the centre of the largest horticultural area in Central Europe. It is also a global logistics hub. It comes as no surprise, then, that Maastricht University (UM) has launched a second campus in this northern Limburg city for, among other things, two master’s programmes that reflect the needs of the region. Fred Brouns, professor of Health Food Innovation, discusses ‘functional food’ and why 97% of food products with health claims turn out to be flops. After a long career in the business sector, Brouns was asked whether he might like to set up a new master’s programme in Venlo. He would – and in 2009 the Master in Health Food Innovation Management was launched with a grand total of four students. “We were only told in June that we could start in September.” The programme now has 46 students. “A fantastic development”, says Brouns.


Functional food On his LinkedIn profile, Brouns describes himself as a ‘functional food specialist’. But isn’t all food functional? “It’s an awkward title, that’s true, but it’s used worldwide. Functional foods are those that have been fortified with additional ingredients to promote health or reduce the risk of disease. If you add a cholesterol-reducing substance to margarine, for

example, it becomes a functional food.” And that works? “Well, that’s the question. If you want to make such claims you have to support them with scientific evidence. That’s the type of research we’re doing here in Maastricht.” Superfruit The efforts being made to link food and health can be seen in the 10th International Symposium on Vaccinium and Other Superfruits, which will be held from 17 to 22 June in Maastricht. Brouns is the main organiser. But what is a vaccinium, and what are these other superfruits? “Vaccinium is a shrub that produces certain types of berries, like blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and currants. These and other berries – such as the strawberry and raspberry – are known as superfruits because they are extremely rich in bioactive substances that are good for the human body. These substances help prevent chronic infections and promote a healthy cardiovascular system. They also have a positive effect on the brain and memory functions associated with ageing. In top athletes, they’ve been shown to improve performance and recovery times after strenuous exercise.” Why 97% fail So what do students learn in the Master in Health Food Innovation Management? “They learn that a good idea is not enough. Innovation is a process that must be managed; you have to get your idea to market and it has to have added value for the consumer and the company. You also have to get legal approval before you can release it. And because we’re dealing

Jilde Garst

‘I’m not a fan of compartmentalised thinking’ Jilde Garst (24) finished the master’s in Health Food Innovation Management in August 2011 and now works at the International Life Sciences Institute Europe in Brussels. Strolling down the aisles of a supermarket, she recognises the long journey each product has taken before it reaches the shelves. This is not only a logistical journey from farm to fork, but a journey in terms of the underlying knowledge as well. “Knowledge of foods, marketing, legislation and technology all converge in a single product. The programme is not exclusively research based; you aren’t trained to work in a lab. What you learn has more to do with the industry and the practical application of knowledge. For me, this was an ideal combination. I’m not a fan of compartmentalised thinking – I’d rather see the bigger picture.”

with nutrition, the laws are very strict. Why do 97% of products with health claims ultimately fail? Because consumers don’t value them or don’t think they taste good. Or the product claims to be good for your health but consumers don’t notice any difference.” For this reason, students of Health Food Innovation Management get lectures not just on nutrition and health, but also on international food law, entrepreneurship and innovation. “My students already have four-year bachelor’s degrees in the fields of life sciences, nutrition and health, or food technology. When they come here and see how the world really works, they get incredibly excited.” What Brouns finds particularly appealing about his field is its multidisciplinarity. UM’s second master’s programme in Venlo – Global Supply Chain Management and Change – is an excellent complement to the first. “When it comes to healthy food, you’re also talking about fresh food. Making sure this gets to the right place at the right time calls for specific management.”

Fred Brouns Fred Brouns (1950) studied Physical Education and Sports Science, and has worked as programme manager for the Royal Dutch Athletics Association and head of scientific information at Wander Dieetvoeding. After obtaining his PhD at UM in 1987, he moved to Sandoz, Switzerland to work in R&D. He returned to work at UM in 2008, and was appointed professor of Health Food Innovation in 2010. More information on the 10th International Symposium on Vaccinium and Other Superfruits can be found at


Off the job

Joost Pennings

Part-time farming with an ancient family recipe Joost Pennings

By Annelotte Huiskes

This was an excellent year for farmer Joost Pennings. His sugar beet harvest alone weighed many millions of kilos. “And they’re perfect: hardly any lateral roots and you can really see the sugar in them.” A part-time farmer and professor of Marketing and Finance at Maastricht University (UM), Pennings comes from a long line of farmers who have worked the land since the 14th century. He is passionate about continuing the family tradition. The Pennings’ family farm lies on the plateau just outside the town centre of Doenrade. Joost Pennings was born and raised there, but now lives with his wife and three children in Lanaken. One day, they plan to move back to the farm, where his parents still live and work. That process is a gradual one. For now, he shares the practical side of running the farm with his father. “As a commercial farm we grow corn, wheat, barley and sugar beets for large multinationals. This means we try to stay as efficient as possible by producing the largest possible yield at the lowest possible costs. The tragedy of the agriculture business is that it requires huge amounts of capital but only produces small returns. You have a lot of assets, but they’re all in the ground,


which results in relatively small profits. From a purely economic perspective I’d have to say: ‘Sell it all, put the money in the bank and even with today’s low interest rates you’d still earn more.’ So you really need to have a passion for this business.” Combination As a boy, Pennings knew he would eventually take over his parents’ farm, but he also had other ambitions. “I wanted to be an opera singer, but my voice wasn’t good enough. If it had been, I might have been a parttime farmer and opera singer instead. My father always gave me the freedom to choose my own path; he thought I should do something I enjoyed.”

Pennings eventually settled on agricultural economics in Wageningen, and graduated from there with his PhD. He then spent ten years as a professor at the University of Illinois, in the US. “It was a fantastic time. America is the absolute mecca of science and agriculture. Everything happens on a much bigger scale there. The University of Illinois even has its own airport.” But he came home, because farming is in his blood. Four years ago, Pennings was appointed part-time professor of Marketing and Finance in Maastricht, and also works as an extraordinary professor at Wageningen University. So how does the scientist relate to the farmer in him? “I love them both. I really enjoy the peace, nature and freedom of the farming lifestyle. But after my rounds in the fields, I’m happy to head to the university to teach a class and sit behind the computer with my financial-economic formulas. As a scientist, my work revolves around the agribusiness and food sector. So when it comes to designing research models and interpreting results, my knowledge of primary production and the Brussels regulations comes in handy.” Hamster fields To survive as a farmer, according to Pennings, you must be an all-round entrepreneur and well versed in technical, legal and financial-economic matters. Just last week, he and his father visited the Agritechnica in Hannover, the largest agricultural fair in the world, to learn about the latest technological developments. “These days, everything is controlled electronically. Tractors drive themselves. Although we certainly need this technology, machines can’t take over everything. Farming is a highly detailed business. Preparing the seedbed is very precise work, as is ploughing, because the soil structure and sowing times are crucial. That type of knowledge is passed down through generations. That’s the farmer’s secret.”

government offered us a good price. So in addition to producing goods, we also began producing natural products as well.” Top region For Pennings, the harvest is the best time of year. This is when, in the most literal sense, you reap what you sow. And this year’s revenues were not bad at all. “We usually harvest about 11,000 kilos of wheat per hectare, whereas in some Eastern European countries they only harvest about 1000 kilos. It all comes down to soil quality, climate and knowledge. According to the US Department of Agriculture, which assesses soil samples from around the world, the plateau surrounding South Limburg’s Doenrade is one of the leading regions in the world. This is also true of Dutch farmers. The language of the dairy farming industry in America is Dutch, because the sector is dominated by Dutch people. The level of knowledge is extremely high: almost all young farmers have degrees in agricultural engineering. We’re the third largest global exporter of agricultural products after the United States and France. So we really know how to use the limited amount of land we have.”

However, because land is so scarce, it is also extremely expensive. The profit margins are therefore smaller than in Romania or the United States, which sees many young farmers leaving the Netherlands. But to Pennings, the future looks bright. “You never know how things will go, but right now there are plenty of reasons for me to expand the business here in South Limburg in combination with my academic career, my other passion.”

Of course, certain things do change over time. Take climate change, for example. “Spring starts earlier now and is much drier. We now harvest our wheat in early July, whereas 15 years ago that would have been in August. This affects the crop and any potential diseases. We’ve also become more environmentally friendly: we only spray a 20th of what we used to 20 years ago.” The role of the farmer is changing, too: Farmers these days are increasingly called on when it comes to conservation efforts. There is a barley field behind the Pennings farm that will never be harvested because it is reserved for the hamsters in the area. “We made a financial assessment of the area and the


Ester Barendregt at an IMF donor meeting

“The IMF is Valhalla

for policy economists” By Annelotte Huiskes

Just over two years ago, Ester Barendregt moved to the United States with her husband and two children. Destination: Washington, where she had been seconded by the Dutch Ministry of Finance to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In these times of financial crisis, it is the place to be for policy economists. “This job has given me real insight into what it takes to run an economy.” Her day began with a conference call to the Ministry of Finance and De Nederlandsche Bank on the developments on both sides of the ocean, followed by a meeting to prepare for next week’s board meeting on the


borrowing instruments of the IMF. “My work for the Ministry of Finance in the Netherlands gave me insight into very specific issues, but here I get a broad overview of the entire financial-economic landscape.

For example, I get to travel on IMF missions to various countries within our constituency. I’ll stay for one or two weeks and talk to everyone that matters in the field: the minister, the president of the central bank,

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the chief advisers, the unions and the private sector. It’s an intense period in which you experience so many different environments and challenges. But it’s also incredibly fun and informative – a Valhalla for policy economists.” As senior adviser to the Dutch executive director, Barendregt works in an international team with colleagues that represent the Dutch constituency. “The IMF is run by all 187 member

states. The bigger countries, like the United States, have their own presidents, but smaller countries like the Netherlands are united in constituencies represented by delegates. We’re in a group with 12 other countries including Israel, Ukraine and several Eastern European countries.”

Formative Barendregt has long been fascinated by international issues. As a school student she was an enthusiastic participant in the Model United Nations, a simulation game of the real UN. This meant attending an annual conference in The Hague with other pupils from all over the world. She even got the chance to visit the United States. International Economic Studies, therefore, was both a conscious and a logical choice. After her graduation – 10 years ago now – she was immediately offered a job at the Ministry of Finance. At the time, Barendregt chose Maastricht University for its solid academic reputation. “They offered better student support, and Problem-Based Learning really appealed to me with its focus on developing your communication and presentation skills. Right from the outset, you were expected to deliver your own products. I really liked this independence in the learn-

ing process. Maastricht was a very intensive and formative time for me; you make lifelong friends and it marks the start of your career.” She also met her husband Driek, who was studying International Business Management in Maastricht. “We’ve known each other for 15 years now. He gave up his job for this adventure. We both thought it would be wonderful to live abroad with the whole family. He really enjoys it, but he’s also looking forward to getting back to work in the Netherlands next year. My three-year contract will end then and we’ve decided to move back home.” Creature comforts The family lives in Chevy Chase, a suburb of Washington. She cycles to the metro every morning, but only on the footpath – she doesn’t dare face the traffic on a bike. “At home I did everything by bike, but you just can’t do that here. We didn’t even bother bringing our carrier bike with us. What’s special about Washington, though, is that nature is really part of the city. There’s a creek that runs through the centre, surrounded by a huge park. My in-laws are visiting at the moment, and my father in law was shocked to see a fox on the street. Apparently, racoons and deer with huge antlers have also been spotted in the area. And just ten minutes from our house is an amazing waterfall with a hiking trail alongside the river. That’s really fantastic, to be able to pop out of the city and right into nature.”

neighbourhood, but we know that less than 15 miles away there are children who go hungry.” Impact Barendregt had long dreamed of working for a large international organisation, and the financial crisis only served to rouse her interest in the IMF. So when she saw the internal vacancy at the Ministry of Finance, she knew it was now or never. “The IMF is playing an important role in combating this crisis. That’s one of the reasons I love working here; it’s a relevant organisation that’s making an impact. The IMF gives emergency loans to countries that really need them, about 50 of them at the moment. But in addition to money, they also offer help in getting the economy back on track. And the IMF has become an important player in European discussions, offering both public and private advice. It’s a professional organisation that’s able to respond quickly and well, and is home to some highly renowned economists. It’s a luxury to be able to work with such people.”

Barendregt is well aware of the privileged position she is in. Recent figures have shown that one in six Americans live in poverty – something that is plain to see in Washington. “It’s a segregated city. We live in a nice


“Deep down

I’m a scientist” By Femke Kools

No. There is no river of Smarties flowing through the Nestlé building in Switzerland, as the son of Jeroen Schmitt once thought. But there are plenty of other good reasons why, seven years ago, this alum decided to move his family from Maastricht to work for the huge multinational. “Looking back, PBL really laid the foundations for my position here.”


On a Friday afternoon in 2004, Jeroen took a call from a head hunter and was offered the position of senior scientist at Nestlé. That call could not have come at a better time. Having been in Maastricht for 14 years, he was ready for a new challenge. “I started studying Health Sciences in 1990 because I was really drawn to the specialisation in Biological Health. In my final year I spent six months researching the relationship between coffee and memory function at the Department of Neuropsychology. I enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue with it.”

studies, I’d realised that a lab was not the best environment for me; I prefer to work with people. And I wanted to do something challenging.”

A year after graduating, he got his chance: a PhD position with the Department of Psychiatry/Neuropsychology at the then Faculty of Medicine. He wrote his dissertation on the effects of serotonin on cognitive function, and was then offered a job as a lecturer. “Although I enjoyed doing research, had great colleagues and enough research funds, after a few years I felt like I was getting stuck in a routine. Even during my

He has now headed the Department of Clinical Operations for 18 months. This department coordinates the myriad of ongoing scientific studies on the health effects of certain foods, from quality assessments to practical issues and communication with external partners. “My scientific background is crucial in this management position. My main focus is on restructuring the centre, which requires you to look at things from a

Nestlé university As a senior scientist at Nestlé he would have the chance to set up his own research group in the field of nutrition and cognition – exactly the challenge he was looking for. So he accepted the job at the Nestlé Research Centre in the Swiss city of Lausanne. “It’s like a little Nestlé university here, with over 300 scientists and 400 other staff.”

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Jeroen Schmitt

scientific perspective to determine what it takes to run a good clinical study.” Marketing Nestlé certainly offers good scientists a great deal of freedom and career opportunities – but Schmitt also finds the business side of his job fascinating. “Deep down I’m a scientist. My chair at Swinburne University in Australia means I get to keep one foot in academia. But science alone is not enough. I find the marketing side of products just as interesting.” After seven years, his contact with Maastricht has started to wane, but Schmitt still feels at least in part a Maastrichtenaar. “I’m originally from Roosendaal and chose to study in Maastricht not just for the programme, but also for the city. Maastricht was a great place. Aside from the partying, which was definitely also fun, I really enjoyed my time as a student there.” Particularly in hindsight, Schmitt has come to appreciate the Maastricht

educational model. “At the time I wasn’t very impressed by PBL. And I wasn’t always motivated to go to my 8.30 classes”, he laughs. “But these days, I see what an important foundation it laid for my current position. You learn key skills like presenting, teamwork, leadership, and above all, how to quickly make new knowledge your own. Knowledge in itself is not that important; skills are. And that’s what you learn through PBL, but also through your student life outside the university. These are the skills I pay attention to when hiring new people.”

he laughs. “But that’s never held me back in terms of integrating. The southern Swiss in particular are very open and welcoming.” The likelihood is low that he will return to the Netherlands before the age of 65. “Not because I don’t like it there, but because there are so many other great places in the world that I could live thanks to my employer. Getting to know different cultures makes me happy. But if I ever do come back, I’m pretty sure it will be to Maastricht.”

Accent His family had no problems integrating. Schmitt quickly bonded with the many expats at work, and his wife and children also had little trouble. He has a 10-year-old son and two daughters aged 8 and 1. “My wife already spoke French thanks to her work as a translator-interpreter, and our two older children are now bilingual. I’m afraid I can’t say the same for myself. My oldest is embarrassed by my accent when I speak French”,


University Fund

Lions Club Scholarship for African student By Jos Cortenraad

The Lions Club Maastricht Trajectum will make it possible for a student from a developing African

country to follow a master’s programme next year. “This student will be here first and foremost to acquire knowledge,” says Lions member Yvo Baeten, “but also to get a taste of Maastricht as a university city. The social aspect of the experience is just as important as the academic side.”

ment. “With this scholarship, we’ll be giving the university a student that will further reinforce its international character. In turn, the student will get the chance to further develop person-

Yvo Baeten and Wim Geven

As a rule, the Lions Club exclusively supports regional ambitions – from a fundraising dinner for the elderly to a golf excursion for handicapped teens. “We still do”, says Baeten, son of the former Maastricht mayor who successfully campaigned for a university in the Limburg capital in the 1970s. “Our first project in 1997 was a fundraiser for a hospice in Maastricht. Since then we’ve launched dozens of projects; at least two a year. Sponsoring a scholarship is indeed a very different kettle of fish, but it also meets two important Lions objectives: establishing and preserving mutual understanding among global populations, and promoting the principles of good governance.” Symbol Wim Geven, a fellow member of the Lions Club Maastricht, nods in agree-


ally and to make an active contribution to his or her homeland. So this project is mutually beneficial. And at a time when development aid is under serious pressure, it’s also an encouraging symbol.” The scholarship is funded by a private foundation and is exclusively intended for the Master in Good Governance. “Only candidates from the African countries that subscribe to the Millennium Development Goals are eligible to apply,” Baeten explains, “such as Ethiopia, Mali and Mozambique, to name just a few. We also have a slight preference for female candidates.” Social There will also be expectations of the student on a more social level. Geven: “We want to hear their story. Why did they choose this master’s programme and why did they decide to come to Maastricht? What’s life like in Africa? What’s the situation in terms of child labour or corporate social responsibil-

ity? How will they apply what they’ve learned when they go home? We hope the candidate will attend regular Lions Club meetings so that we can exchange ideas and information.” The student will certainly be received with great interest. “We’re excited about giving a tour of the area and introducing the student to the social scene in Maastricht; all on a voluntary basis of course. We want them to get to know our culture and everything our region has to offer. They’ll then go home with a good degree and essentially act as advertisement for Maastricht. A sort of ambassador, that’s our goal.” Thoughtful Jos Kievits, director of SWOL, is pleased with the initiative. “This scholarship goes further than simply helping a talented student from a developing country. The student will take that knowledge back to his or her home country and UM will be aided in its mission to contribute to our globalising world. So it’s a wonderful and thoughtful gift from the Lions Club Maastricht Trajectum.”

“We need to advertise what we do” By Jos Cortenraad With his appointment as governor of the Province of Limburg, Theo Bovens automatically became chair of the Limburg University Fund/SWOL. One of his many (unpaid) extra positions, this one in particular is dear to the heart of the native Maastrichtenaar. “Absolutely”, says Bovens, who spent five years working at Maastricht University’s (UM) economics faculty in the early 1990s, and was president of the board of the Open University in Heerlen until June last year. “As a boy I sold stickers to raise money for SWOL, which at the time was aiming to bring the university to Maastricht. That university education is invaluable for employment and development in Limburg has been more than proven over the years. Now, the fund plays a different, but no less important role, generating funds for special projects and chairs. These are the things that can set us apart from the rest.” Under no circumstances does Bovens see the fund as a source to compensate for the thinning flows of public

and private funding for university education. “No, a university must be able to support itself with the usual grants and student contributions. Also, I don’t think that we in the Netherlands should move to a system in which alumni and sponsors keep the university running. But the University Fund can play an important role in terms of our image and public relations. We need to get better at advertising what we do to the outside world. Our best shot at doing this is via our alumni, who are now spread all over the world. They’re our ambassadors, advertisements for university education in Maastricht. That’s why as chair I’ll be dedicated to strengthening our relations with alumni.”

Theo Bovens

Bovens will no doubt prove to be an active and ambitious chair for the University Fund. “UM is more than just Limburg – it’s an international institute. In my view, this should be more visible in the board of the fund.”


University College Maastricht moves to first position in Dutch University Guide 2012 As in previous years, Maastricht University (UM) has ranked highly in the Dutch University Guide (Keuzegids) 2012. Of the 16 bachelor’s programmes assessed, 13 ranked in the top 3, 7 of them in first place. UM, as in previous years, ranks 3rd in the overall list of the 7 medium-sized universities, behind Wageningen University and Eindhoven University of Technology. This is the first year UCM has taken the top position in the rankings of university colleges. While it came in 4th last year, this year’s score of 8.6 leaves UCM’s competition far behind. Experts especially praise the high standard of UCM graduates, who in turn are satisfied on all levels.

High scores were also awarded to the programmes International Business (1st with 7.8), Economics (2nd with 7.6)

and Medicine (tied 2nd with 7.6). Psychology (2nd with 6.8), Arts and Culture (2nd with 6.4) and European Studies (1st with 6.0) all ranked substantially higher than last year. Arts and Culture is ranked mistakenly in the printed edition of the Keuze-gids; Maastricht is indicated as coming in third, while its scores entitle it to second position. In the Times Higher Education rankings, UM is named as one of the top 200 universities worldwide. It advanced to 109th position in the QS World University Rankings, published by the education consultants Quacquarelli Symonds.

It also finished in the top 300 of the prestigious Shanghai Rankings earlier this year.

UCM students

UM committed to tax-related innovation Maastricht University (UM) has merged its tax-related programmes and research expertise into the Maastricht Centre for Taxation (MCT), an interdisciplinary educational and research centre focusing on international and European tax matters. The MCT was officially opened by the Dutch State Secretary of Finance, Frans Weekers. The MCT will incorporate the tax expertise from the Faculty of Law (FL) and the School of Business and Economics (SBE), focusing on education and research in tax law and tax-related economics. Professor Raymond Luja, co-director of the MCT and chair of UM’s Department of Tax Law, says:


“The MCT is unique due to the presence of expertise in transnational labour and entrepreneurship. UM stands out primarily because it offers a large concentration of tax-related knowledge in the fields of international salary tax, income tax, pensions and social security, with a particular focus on issues of the privileges and possibilities provided by European law to employees and entrepreneurs. Examples of this can be seen in the cross-border workers who work in one European country and live in another, or international experts (expats) employed in the Netherlands. Other relevant subjects provided here are tax accounting and public finance.”

Frans Weekers opening the Maastrticht Centre for Taxation

Profile Education and research at Maastricht University is organised primarily on the basis of faculties, schools and institutes. Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences • Politics and Culture in Europe • Science, Technology and Society, incl. Globalisation and Development • Arts, Media and Culture Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences • School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism (NUTRIM) • School for Cardiovascular Diseases (CARIM) • School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI) • School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNS) • School for Oncology and Developmental Biology (GROW) • School of Health Professions Education (SHE) Faculty of Humanities and Sciences • Department of Knowledge Engineering • International Centre for Integrated assessment and Sustainable development (ICIS) • Maastricht Graduate School of Governance (MGSoG) • University College Maastricht • Maastricht Science College • Teachers Academy Faculty of Law • Institute for Globalisation and International Regulation (IGIR) • Institute for Transnational Legal Research (METRO) • Institute for Corporate Law, Govern-

Colophon • Maastricht European Private Law Institute (MEPLI) • The Maastricht Forensic Institute (tMFI)

Publisher: © Maastricht University Editor-in-Chief: Jeanine Gregersen General Editor: Annelotte Huiskes Editorial Board: Gerard Mols (President),

• Maastricht Graduate School of Law

Marja van Dieijen-Visser, Arvid Hoffmann,

• Montesquieu Institute Maastricht

Jos Kievits, Victor Mostart, Hildegard

Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience • Graduate School of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience • Clinical Psychological Science • Cognitive Neuroscience (CN) • Experimental Psychopathology (EPP) • Neuropsychology & Psychopharmacology • Work & Social Psychology • Maastricht Brain Imaging Centre (M-BIC)

Schneider, Annemie Schols, Sophie Vanhoonacker. Photography: Ester Barendregt (p 2, 32,33), Jilde Garst (p 29) Harry Heuts (cover), Harm Hospers (p 18,19) Istockphoto (p 25), Joey Roberts (p 9), Sacha Ruland (p 2,3,4,6,10,1 2,14,16,20,22,26,28,30,36), Jeroen Schmitt (p 34,35), Jonathan Vos (p 8) Translations and English editing: Alison Edwards Graphic concept: Vormgeversassociatie BV, Hoog-Keppel Graphic design:

School of Business and Economics

Grafisch Ontwerpbureau Emilio Perez

• Maastricht Research School of

Print: Pietermans Drukkerij, Lanaken (B)

Economics of Technology and Organisations (METEOR) • Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), Foundation • United Nations University –

Maastricht University magazine is published in February, June and October. It is sent on demand to UM alumni and to external relations.

Maastricht Economic Research Insti-

Editorial Office:

tute on Innovation and Technology

Marketing & Communications

(UNU-MERIT), Foundation

Postbus 616, 6200 MD Maastricht

• Limburg Institute of Financial Economics (LIFE) • The Maastricht Academic Centre for Research in Services (MAXX) • Accounting, Auditing & Information Management Research Centre (MARC) • European Centre for Corporate Engagement (ECCE) • Social Innovation for Competitiveness, Organisational Performance and

T +31 43 388 5238 / +31 43 388 5222 E Cover: European and Maastricht University flag in front of the provincial government building where the Treaty of Maastricht was signed in 1992. With thanks to Jean-Pierre Pilet, Kim Rietman and Nicholas Narang ISSN: 2210-5212


ance and Innovation Policies (ICGI) • Maastricht Centre for European Law (MCEL) • Maastricht Centre for Human Rights • Maastricht Centre for Taxation (MCT)

Based in Europe, focused on the world. Maastricht University is a stimulating environment. Where research and teaching are complementary. Where innovation is our focus. Where talent can ourish. A truly student oriented research university.

Maastricht University Magazine February 2012  
Maastricht University Magazine February 2012  

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