Wednesday, 17 September 2014 10:05

Advocate of tea

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Maastricht University graduate Mirjam Lommel worked in corporate law, advising on mergers, acquisitions and the formation of limited companies. After suffering a burnout – "I missed the contact with people" – she took a surprising turn in her career. She now runs the teahouse 't Bluk in Laren.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 10:01

A columnist who longed for eternity

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Kees Fens was the greatest Dutch post-war literary critic and essayist, an influential columnist and winner of the P.C. Hooft Prize, a lifetime achievement award for literature. But as a new biography by emeritus professor of literature Wiel Kusters reveals, Fens was also an incurable Catholic and an outsider with a multifaceted character: contemplative, witty, but also vicious.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:51

He’s a lumberjack and he’s OK

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Isn’t that just always the way it goes: now that the photographer and the interviewer are watching you work, the chainsaw doesn’t want to start. After a few attempts, the shrill sound at last cuts through the silence of the village of Wahlwiller. The professor lowers the saw into one of the many tree trunks lying ready to be cut into chunks. Soon after, his axe whizzes down with deadly accuracy: chop! Chop! CHOP!! With every stroke, Professor Albert Scherpbier clears his mind. “And then lighting the fire – that’s just fun.”
Imagine the following situation. You have agreed to cook dinner for your mother-in-law, who has been acting rather strangely lately. “Wasn't she ignoring me the last time we visited her?”, you grumble to yourself while preparing the chilli sauce. Her behaviour has been bothering you for weeks now. The water boils. Chopping the peppers, you realise she’s been mean to the kids too. “She doesn't answer their phone calls. And she didn’t even show up at Billy’s birthday party.” You chop and chop, and while your heart beats faster, more and more peppers slip into the bowl. You're angry – and she’s going to taste it. The proof is in the sauce.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:38

Animal research puts sustainability on the map

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We’re happy for animals at the zoo to have large enclosures, but if we’ve bought a ticket we do want to be able to see them. We like to eat meat, but we’d rather not be confronted with pictures of battery cages. We may be vegetarians ourselves, but still have a big dog that eats meat. “We live in glass houses”, says Pim Martens, professor of Sustainable Development at ICIS, Maastricht University’s sustainability institute. He recently began studying the role of animals in our society. “Through animals, you can put the sustainability debate on the map in an engaging way.”
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:30

The real recovery is still coming

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In 1994, Coen Weddepohl from Apeldoorn made a point of choosing the fledgling programme in International Management at Maastricht University. “I was attracted to Problem-Based Learning and the international character of the university. I knew I wanted to go abroad since I was 15.” Twenty years later, Weddepohl is a partner in a hedge fund in the heart of New York.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:23

He fled the golden cage

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Peter van den Bossche speaks thoughtfully, as befits a judge. Certain things he doesn’t say, but instead portrays with his hands. To illustrate the collaboration with his six colleagues in the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO), he rubs the knuckles of his fists against each other. With a more than impressive CV, he holds the highest judicial position in the field of international trade law. He may be in Geneva more often than he is in Maastricht, but he feels a deep bond with the university. “I owe UM so much.”
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:18

Healthy pupils who get the most out of themselves

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Raising healthy children who feel good in their own skin and can put their talents to good use: this is the aim of the Healthy Primary School of the Future. This is a new educational concept in the Parkstad region, supported by the Province of Limburg. The curriculum revolves around a healthy diet, sport and exercise, cultural activities and the psychological wellbeing of pupils. According to Maastricht University (UM), the educational foundation Movare and the Regional Public Health Service (GGD) for South Limburg, the initiative is an excellent investment for the future. “Going to school should be a party”, says UM professor Onno van Schayck. “That’s my ideal picture.”
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 09:10

Change ahead in academia

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It is the year 1917. While most of the European continent is still in the midst of the Great War, something remarkable happens in the Dutch academic world. Plant pathologist Johanna Westerdijk is appointed as professor at Utrecht University, thereby becoming the first female professor in the Netherlands. It is a historic moment, paving the way for future generations of talented women. Yet here we are, almost a century later, with a meagre 15% of female professors. Where did we go wrong?
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 08:46

Sustainability penetrates the financial world

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Sustainability is slowly but surely gaining a foothold in the financial world. Investors are growing more critical; banks and pension funds are increasingly investing in green energy and companies that take social responsibility seriously. The Maastricht University School of Business and Economics is responding to these developments with its new Master in Sustainable Finance. We sit down with Jaap Bos, one of the programme initiators (together with Jeroen Derwall).
In the early 1990s Wim Saris, professor of Human Nutrition at Maastricht University, considered taking a different research direction. “At the time we had only a basic understanding of why a diet might work for one person but not another, and we had trouble getting much further than that.” But he saw the light at a 1994 conference in Colorado (USA), where molecular biologists presented the next big thing in genomics research: nutrigenomics. “It was spectacular; perhaps the biggest change of the past three decades.” Saris will deliver his farewell lecture, ‘Something to chew on’, on 6 June. 
In April, Maastricht University alum An Jacobs started a fascinating new career, teaching at the UK’s Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. “When I saw the job vacancy for a senior lecturer, I thought, ‘This is the job for me’. I figured it was a long shot because of the competition, but I applied anyway”, Jacobs reflects. “I was over the moon when I was offered the position.”
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 13:35

Retiring later? Think about it now

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The scrapping of the favourable pension scheme for Dutch civil servants had hidden side effects, such as reduced motivation and productivity. This was Raymond Montizaan’s conclusion several years ago following a study by the Maastricht Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA). Now he is leading a new study with much more alarming results: “We’re not well prepared for the consequences of the increased retirement age, and many people are finding themselves in financial difficulties.”

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