Universiteit Leiden

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Academic freedom Core Team

The academic freedom core team was established by Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl in the summer of 2022. It comprises five professors from five different faculties: Martine de Vries (LUMC), Frits van der Meer (FGGA), Sense Jan van der Molen (Science), Jannemieke Ouwerkerk (Law) and Herman Paul (Humanities). The team is supported by Janneke Vader (Strategy and Academic Affairs).

The core team is addressing the following questions:

  1. What does academic freedom mean for students and staff at Leiden University? 
  2. How does the Leiden academic community experience academic freedom – or the lack of or limits to this?
  3. To what extent is academic freedom in Leiden under threat?
  4. What best practices could the university employ or develop to promote academic freedom? Is there a ‘Leiden approach’?

In terms of definition, the team follows the KNAW report on academic freedom in the Netherlands.

The team will work according to the 2P principle: ‘principles’ and ‘pain points’ of academic freedom will be identified for students, staff and management, and continuous reflection on these will be encouraged throughout the entire academic community. This translates into four tasks:

  1. Literature study: an exploration of ‘principles’ and ‘pain points’, as mentioned in the aforementioned KNAW report and other relevant literature;
  2. Discussions: an exploration in private 2P discussions with administrators, staff and students of ‘principles’ and ‘pain points’ experienced at Leiden University;
  3. Dialogues: a series of public ‘dialogues’ for students and staff from the entire university on aspects of academic freedom that are uncovered in 1 and 2;
  4. Advice: short written feedback to the Executive Board, with recommendations for a permanent ‘Leiden approach’.

The first dialogue took place on 10 November 2023. Its theme was: ‘Are there questions that should not be raised at university?’ The second dialogueon the role of academics in the public debate, was held on 14 February 2024. On 17 June the core team presents their report.

If you have any questions for or about the team, please contact Janneke Vader

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