Shyama V. Ramani, Professor of Development Economics at UNU-MERIT, has been working on the issue of sanitation since the tsunami of December 2004. It all started as a charity project to build toilets for women in a small coastal village in Tamil Nadu, her home state in the southernmost part of India. “The tsunami had destroyed the vegetal cover around the village and the women could no longer relieve themselves in the bushes as they used to. They needed toilets.”
Career prospects are playing an increasingly important role for students in choosing a degree. Maastricht University has therefore made employability one of its three strategic foci, alongside an international orientation and Problem-Based Learning. Programme leader Ellen Bastiaens explains what this means.
Is peace possible in Israel and Palestine? There is a roadmap to a peaceful solution, the ‘destination’ being two viable states – but negotiations are at a standstill. The ambassadors of the two countries to the Netherlands recently debated the issues in Maastricht. According to Haim Divon, the Israeli ambassador, “Our leaders need to talk to each other”. “But while they’ve been talking,” says Nabil Abuznaid, head of the Palestinian Mission, “six times more settlements have been established.”
Ton Hartlief, professor of Private Law, has been named best teacher by his students in Maastricht and best liability lawyer in the Netherlands by his professional peers. He became a professor in Leiden at the age of just 29, and recently – still shy of his 50th birthday – took up one of the highest posts available to a lawyer: advocate general at the Supreme Court of the Netherlands. An academic at heart, he remains level-headed: “It’s all a matter of hard work and a bit of luck.” Here he looks back on a successful career.
Valentina and Mariana Mazzucato are both leading scholars in their fields of research: migration and the economics of innovation, respectively. Valentina, professor at Maastricht University, recently received the 500th prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC), while Mariana, professor at the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, gained worldwide acclaim with her latest book The Entrepreneurial State. Judging by these sisters, if there’s a key to success, it’s enthusiasm.
The EdLab institute is set to become the driving force behind educational innovation at Maastricht University. Having spent the past year making connections and charting the terrain at UM, the institute has, according to EdLab director and UM vice rector Harm Hospers, demonstrated its right to exist. “The number of ideas and proposals is overwhelming. EdLab is a hotbed of innovation. And innovation, as you know, is never done.”
Alum Naomi Neijhoft is a Child Protection Officer for UNICEF. She assists the Cambodian government in protecting children from violence, exploitation, neglect and abuse.
Urban labs have much to teach us. About co-creation, for instance, and about new forms of local governance. And they might just help us to address big issues such as sustainability and citizen participation. Professor René Kemp and postdoctoral researcher Christian Scholl are studying various European urban labs in the international research project URB@Exp. The key question is: will the insights gained from these labs lead to institutional reforms?