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Foto: Bob Bronshoff (UvA)

Interdisciplinary is keyword in contours of new UvA Institutional Plan

Henk Strikkers,
14 februari 2020 - 11:28

All students and staff members can now give feedback at the contours of the new Institutional Plan of the UvA. Chairwoman Geert ten Dam says she wants ‘everyone to be involved’ in the making of the new plan which will affect all students. ‘No student should graduate without knowledge of data science or artificial intelligence’.

Every six years the university sets out its vision and strategy in its ‘institutional plan’, with the key word this year being ‘interdisciplinary’. Unlike previous years, the contours of the plan will be presented to students and teachers over the coming months to gather feedback. Chairwoman Geert ten Dam: ‘We have already talked a lot with all kinds of people, but we want everyone to be involved. Anyone can read and comment at We are looking for feedback as to what we’ve missed, and whether we are being too ambitious or perhaps not ambitious enough.’



‘The board believes that an interdisciplinary approach is important,’ says Ten Dam, in order to equip students with the full range of skills they need to tackle real world issues. ‘Take diabetes for instance. It’s not only a health problem. It also gives rise to issues concerning human movement and nutrition. Many problems are really complex. The need to be approached from all angles. That is why I am so happy with the Knowledge Centre on Inequality in the City, in which both the municipality of Amsterdam and universities participate. The UvA wants to participate in more partnerships like this.’


The UvA will invest in research and education around four major themes: healthy and participatory citizens, resilient and inclusive societies, responsible digital transformation, and sustainable prosperity. ‘In education, we should make more use of the knowledge development at the UvA,’ Ten Dam says. ‘No student should graduate without knowledge of data science or artificial intelligence’.


Digital tools

Another key emphasis is on ‘student success,’ for which the UvA wants to make more use of ‘digital tools’ and ‘technology for activating learni ng’. Ten Dam: ‘The question is: how can you make the most use of contact hours? Feedback is is one of the most powerful educational tools. We need to look at how we can adapt lectures so that teachers and students can spend more time on what’s most important. Technology can help us with this.’ Lecturers shouldn’t worry that it is an austerity measure in disguise though. ‘It’s not. We want to give teachers the space to do their work as meaningfully as possible.


‘In previous institutional plans, we set goals and key performance indicators and that was more or less it. We want this plan to come alive more,’ Ten Dam says. ‘It must provide meaningful guidance for what we will do at the UvA.’ All faculties must also write their faculty plan within the framework of the institutional plan. ‘Every faculty is different and has different challenges, but when we write about talent policy in our Instititutional Plan, the faculty must do the same in their faculty plan.’