Leading in eating

In Society
Wednesday, 20 February 2013 15:38
Maastricht University’s Eatwell project, designed to promote healthier lifestyles and eating habits, was launched one year ago. In addition to its large scale, this project is unique for its interfaculty character, spanning the faculties of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Law, Economics and Psychology. The project is the brainchild of the NUTRIM research institute, with director Annemie Schols at the helm.

Europe: where is it headed? Professors Aalt Willem Heringa and Michael Shackleton have a critical but also hopeful view of the future. The United States of Europe, they say, is already a reality. “The European Union is much more powerful than the federal government in the US.” But we could do with more transparency and, in particular, more democratic experimentation.

National Socialist Family Law (video)

In Society
Thursday, 08 November 2012 08:20
PhD dissertation Mariken Lenaerts

Nazis used marriage and divorce law in Germany and the Netherlands to build their Thousand Year Aryan Reich during the Second World War. More Aryan children and as few as possible half – Jewish children had to be born. Changing the rules regarding marriage and divorce, liberalizing divorce law and forbidding mixed marriages between Aryans and Jews would then create the purest Aryan society which was aimed at by the Nazis.

As indicated in its proposed performance agreements (‘Voorstel prestatieafspraken 2013-2016’), Maastricht University (UM) aims to be able to give targeted advice to all prospective students by 2015. This is because choosing a study programme that suits you and meets your expectations is not always easy, but it is important – not just for you but also for the faculty. Already, the faculties of Law and Arts & Social Sciences are using a ‘traffic light’ system for prospective students. A questionnaire on their study skills and motivation indicates whether their choice of programme is a sensible one, and issues a greenlight (go ahead!), or a yellow or red one (needs attention!). The advice is not binding. The two faculties each have their own approach to the ‘Matching & Binding’ programme, but are in complete agreement on the preliminary results. 

Sharia council: same pitch, same rules

In Society
Tuesday, 23 October 2012 14:31

The call for a sharia council in the Netherlands has met with much controversy. But if a religious community feels the need for this, what’s the problem?, wondered René de Groot, professor of Comparative Law and International Private Law. “The Netherlands has an exceptionally long tradition in the application of sharia law.”

The relationship between judges and legislatures

Could you describe your research?
I am involved in the European and National Constitutional Law (EUNACON) project. This is a four-year EU financed project, led by professor Monica Claes and comprised of three other colleagues in the law faculty. We examine fundamental constitutional principles in ten Member States and in the EU.

At the age of 10, Hans van Hall wondered why the Diepstraat in the picturesque town of Eijsden was so wide. Fifty years later he answers this question himself in his PhD dissertation, ‘Eijsden, een vrijheid met Luikse stadsrechten’ (‘Eijsden: Liberty with Liège City Rights’). “In the Middle Ages, this village had its own justice system. That was unique in the region we now know as South Limburg.”

They sit companionably side by side; supervisor Louis Berkvens and PhD candidate Hans van Hall. Both in their 60s, both at the end of first-rate scholarly careers. There are few signs of a typical student–teacher hierarchy in this relationship. “Absolutely not”, the professor says immediately. “We’ve worked on a great book together for six years; on a dissertation with more social relevance than the outside world initially suspected. And it’s been unlike any other PhD project I’ve worked on. Most of the time I spent on it was my own spare time. We usually met at some nice place in the city or at home with a cup of coffee. Pleasantly illegal, I’m tempted to say.”

Think of a professor and you are apt to picture an absent-minded, white-haired man, perhaps even wearing a lab coat. Though this kind of characters is more likely to be found in films than in real life, the truth is that the vast majority of those holding top academic positions in the Netherlands are men. With the appointment of Monica Claes, professor of European and Comparative Constitutional Law, Maastricht University can be doubly pleased: she is first and foremost an inspiring researcher who, by the way, happens to be a woman.

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