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Meeting participants provide input for Strategic Plan

In its Strategic Plan Leiden University sets its direction for the coming years. A new plan will be presented next year, and in the runup to this we are organising different forms of student and staff consultation within the scope of LDN FWD (‘Leiden Forward’). A series of meetings were recently held on the main themes: research, teaching and organisation of the future.

Several project teams and work groups at the university are preparing advice for the Strategic Plan. Various elements of this advice were recently presented and evaluated at three meetings for students and staff, as were the results of the online dialogues. At each meeting the participants split into small groups to discuss the topics at hand. Sometimes this involved exploring the finer points of opportunities within the focal areas and sometimes this involved discussing key priorities. In this article we highlight a few topics. We won’t go into all the details but will give an idea of what was discussed. 

Theme: Teaching of the future

This theme includes topics such as blended learning, sustainability, student well-being, the educational model, lecturer development and inclusive teaching

Topic: Educational model
One of the topics that moderator Mark Rutgers discussed here was the concept of the Future Academic Self. This means that students learn to reflect on their own development and later role in society as an academically trained professional. The participants discussed what this concept means and how this can be given shape. At present many programmes do not offer enough room to give expression to this. In the discussion concrete ideas were suggested, such as giving students more opportunity to evaluate one another. The participants emphasised that students must be aware that they themselves must take the lead on which skills they wish to develop. Joint reflection can help, said the participants, and integration with the discipline is important too.

Theme: Teaching of the future

This theme relates to strategic collaboration in national and international networks, open science and collaboration with societal partners

Topic: Strategic collaboration in networks
In the session led by Joachim Koops, the discussion focussed on why we need strategic collaboration and networks, and how these are of value to the university. The participants discussed this from different perspectives. The collaboration with partner universities and the cities and region that the university is situated in was considered, as were opportunities for strategic collaboration with, for example, the Netherlands Institute for Space Research (SRON). For students, the alumni network can also play an important role in helping them prepare for the job market: the university’s alumni are all over the world and can give guest lectures, for instance, or contribute to information sessions. They can also be an important link between the university and research partnerships. ‘Low-hanging fruit that we should do more with,’ said Joachim in the plenary. 

Theme: Organisation of the future

This theme relates to topics such as ‘from job stress to job satisfaction’, core values and identity, leadership and talent policy

Topic: Talent policy
In the session on the university’s talent policy, which was led by Sarah Giest, two topics stood out: an inclusive approach to talent policy and awareness of the diverse talents that people possess and can use. One of the participants described how she personally can see a clear distinction within the organisation between ‘people who belong and people who don’t’, or rather the academic staff and the supporting and management staff. ‘If we talk about talent development, we should be inclusive.’ The participants also discussed how to use and develop everyone’s talents, and the idea of also approaching this from a team perspective. How can you build on one another’s strengths? And how do you ensure that staff can use their talents – and how do you so in a concerted fashion, across departments, faculties and perhaps even in collaboration with other universities? The group concluded that this could be achieved by addressing talent development and talent retention from a university perspective rather than a faculty one. 

What now?

The project teams and work groups will use the input from the discussions in the next steps of the process. The topics from the work groups and project teams, the results of the online dialogues in June and the main outcome of the online meetings were discussed at the university’s strategic conference in Corpus on 1 July. This marked the transition from the development stage to the fine-tuning one. The input will be used to make the first decisions on the rough outline. The fine-tuning stage will involve various consultations, such as a meeting on 13 September, that will help develop this outline into the full Strategic Plan. We will proceed to the decision-making stage in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will ultimately present the Strategic Plan in February 2022. 

Save the date: join in the discussion on 13 September

We hope this has sparked your curiosity and that you too would like to have your say. If so, why not join our next session after the summer, where we hope to exchange ideas with students and staff about the rough outline of the Strategic Plan? Make a note of 13 September (13.00 – 15.00) in your calendar and see the website for more information.

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