‘I am busy with the question: what is useful, necessary and interesting for the Faculty to connect to each other?’
She has been here for almost three months: Susanne Roodhuijzen, knowledge broker of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Her goal? To act as a ‘matchmaker’ both inside and outside the Faculty. But what does that mean, exactly? She introduces herself.
What do you do as a knowledge broker?
‘The goal of my appointment is to advance the exchange of knowledge, both within the Faculty and between the Faculty and external parties, so that our researchers’ impact increases and new research opportunities arise.
I am continuously busy with the question: what is useful, necessary and interesting for the Faculty to connect to each other with regard to research and education? A simple example: one researcher tells me that she started a podcast, and another one mentions how much he would like to do something with a podcast sometimes. That’s the moment when I think: I should bring those two together! That is what I do with the information I gather. Essentially it is just a lot of networking.
Right now, I’m mostly getting acquainted with the Faculty: what is happening here, how does the organisation work, what wishes do people have? That does not only mean reading up on the strategy of the Faculty, but also meet up with colleagues to get to know them. I’m currently very internally focused, but I want to expand, for example to the municipality, wellbeing organisations and of course the residents of Leiden.’
If you have an idea for an activity and you want to involve the city, or you want to set it up with external partners, then come to me!
Who did you meet already?
‘One of my assignments has to do with the Healthy Society Centre, a collaboration between the Municipality of Leiden and the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, so I started meeting with members of the project’s taskforce. They are people from all institutes, so that’s an easy way in! The Institute Boards are also on my list of course, but it’s also just a case of who I bump into and who I actively seek out.
If you have an idea for an activity and you want to involve the city, or you want to set it up with external partners, then come to me! We can meet up and talk about the possibilities. In the end, I want to know as many colleagues as possible.’
How do you define ‘knowledge’?
‘The substantive knowledge on social and behavioural sciences. In the end, it is about how we can involve society in that. I want to be a connecting link in that regard too. That we do not only do outreach, but also “inreach”: find out which relevant questions the citizens of Leiden truly have, for example with regards to ageing healthily or mental wellbeing. What demand for which knowledge is actually existing outside the walls of the University?
It is also important to realise that residents of Leiden can also hold knowledge. They are not only there to be research subjects, but they can also contribute to it. An example from abroad: a volunteer identifying animals on photos wrote software for that task. The software was so useful that he was mentioned as an author in the publication!’
With what questions can FSW colleagues come to you?
‘What I can offer is my network: within the Faculty, in Leiden, at the municipality. So if you have the idea that you need someone, but you don’t know exactly who or you don’t know where to begin, then you can come to me and I will try and use my network to find the relevant connection. I am like a funnel where questions come together that I can put out again. Of course, I will not always have the answer myself, but I probably know someone else who does know the answer.’
When you’re not busy connecting people, what do you like to do?
‘I often travel to France to go bouldering in the nature of Fontainebleau, but this summer I went to Germany for the first time. In Leiden I visit the bouldering gym a few times per week. Besides that, I recently purchased a SUP board, but I haven’t used it that often yet. And since corona times I also like to bake bread with a sourdough starter – its name is Herman.’
Photos: Suédy Mauricio
Text: Emma Knapper