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Tazuko van Berkel new member The Young Academy

The Young Academy has gained a new Leiden humanities scholar as a member. University lecturer Greek language and literature Tazuko van Berkel will be appointed as a member as of March.

As one of the ten new members of The Young Academy, Van Berkel will be part of an organisation that organises activities for various target groups in the areas of interdisciplinarity, science policy, and science and society. ‘In the context of interdisciplinarity I want to organise a multi-day workshop’, says Van Berkel. ‘For my research project on economic thinking in ancient Greece I work a lot with colleagues from other branches of economic science, such as economic philosophers and economic anthropologists. Sometimes these disciplines do not seem to be having the same conversation. That is why I would like to discuss with them the different implicit anthropologies in those disciplines. How rational are people according to the assumptions of your discipline? What does this rationality entail exactly? What is freedom?’

Van Berkel also wants to set up a project for the science and society section: a dialogue programme for secondary school pupils about debt. ‘Young people have a lot of debt, much more than thirty years ago. Most intervention programmes are about bookkeeping. The idea is that as long as you know what comes in and what goes out, you will be fine. But poor bookkeeping is not the reason why people end up in debt. Consumption patterns are becoming more and more insisting and compelling. I want to enter into dialogue about this with young people. What is debt? How does consumption work? How are we influenced by advertising? Then, in cooperation with the Academy of Creative and Performing Arts, I also want to organise an artistic intervention and have pupils visualise and rethink debt, together with artists.’

Higher level

For herself, Van Berkel hopes that The Young Academy will help her take her skills to a higher level. ‘I think that The Young Academy can teach me to take my science communication to a higher level. The Young Academy has, for example, a project on how to effectively communicate with people who are not interested in what you have to say from the outset. I am curious to know how we, as humanities scholars, should approach people who do not come to public lectures or events of their own accord or who are sceptical about what we do. And I would like to know how we, as humanities scholars, can properly demonstrate the methods that we use. I myself am often inclined to think: my materials are already very nice. Then I retell the stories that I research. That always works, but I also want to be able to better show what kind of research I am actually applying to those stories.’

Double nomination

Van Berkel will be appointed a member of The Young Academy thanks to a double nomination. Both rector Hester Bijl (advised by the Centre for the Arts in Society, the institute with which Van Berkel is affiliated) and The Young Academy member Nadine Akkerman nominated her as a new member. ‘I think it is very special that my institute put effort into this and that my own rector eventually nominated me, but I also think it’s great that Nadine mentioned me’, says Van Berkel. ‘She is a scholar with a substantial track record, so it is a great honour that she has managed to do this for me.’

About The Young Academy

The Young Academy is a dynamic and innovative platform of young top scholars with a vision on science and science policy. There are currently fifty members, who, at the time of their appointment, obtained their doctorates less than ten years ago. They represent a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines and work at Dutch universities and research institutes. (Source: The Young Academy)

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