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Executive Board column: Annetje Ottow on Brussels, Africa and societal impact

Within the scope of innovating and connecting – the theme of our new Strategic Plan – I paid a visit to Brussels last week. It is important to give Leiden University a face in Brussels and to show our expertise, on Africa for instance.

In this column Annetje Ottow, Hester Bijl and Martijn Ridderbos give a peek behind the scenes at the Executive Board of Leiden University. What does their work involve? What makes them enthusiastic? What challenges do they face? Building on a healthy, engaged and learning community begins with sharing what you are up to.

Together with Professor Marleen Dekker from the African Studies Centre Leiden and a number of colleagues who are responsible for our contacts in Brussels, I spoke to the Netherlands Permanent Representation in Brussels and the Directorate-General for International Partnerships. The latter deals with sustainable development and development cooperation. 

One ambition from our Strategic Plan is to bring together all our knowledge about Africa and its further development. A meeting with Sandra Kramer, who is responsible for EU-Africa relations, was particularly valuable, therefore. How can we improve our cooperation in various African countries? Which partners are important to this? Which grants are available and how can we increase student and PhD exchanges? We took the time to share our thoughts on these and other matters. For us, it was a very instructive and inspiring meeting that will further help the team.

Annetje Ottow, Marleen Dekker, Marc Holtkamp and Angela Noble in Brussels

My visit to Brussels only confirmed how important our relationship is with the EU and its institutions. Many European policies are based on scientific knowledge, mostly from European universities like our own. That makes it important to know what is going on in Brussels and which scientific input is needed so that we as Leiden University can contribute to important developments.

Not only do we have a lot of knowledge about Europe, but by making our research widely available, for example to the EU and its institutions, we can also increase our impact on society. Now we are European City of Science this year, we are making this impact even more visible in Europe. I’d like to thank everyone who made this successful visit to Brussels possible.

Does this strike a chord or would you like to share any insights or experiences relating to this column? If so, send us an email at nieuws@leidenuniv.nl

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