‘Get the campus feeling back’

| Michaela Nesvarova

After six months, Studium Generale will once again offer physical events on campus. Starting next week, maximum sixty participants will be able to attend ‘corona proof’ lectures and workshops in the Vrijhof. Others can newly watch the events via a livestream.

‘We find physical events very important,’ says head of Studium Generale (SG) Peter Timmerman. ‘We thought about the UT community and especially students, who might otherwise spend the whole day behind a computer. This way we can, in a small way, support their social wellbeing. We would like them to get the campus feeling back.’

Livestream and registrations

Due to corona restrictions, only sixty people will be able to physically come to the Agora theatre on campus. ‘We usually get 150 to 200 members of the audience. To accommodate everyone, we invested in livestream equipment and we are exploring the option of interactive livestream, so that audience at home can ask questions,’ says Timmerman. ‘We believe this is also a nice option for our elderly viewers, who don’t dare to come to campus yet.’

All participants will need to register upfront. ‘The registration is doing very well so far. Some parts of the program are almost fully booked already,’ informs Timmerman. ‘We are a bit worried about the “no-shows”, but we will first try and see.’ Students will get priority for registrations. ‘We see them as our main audience and want to prevent them sitting at home alone. We’d like them to come and be inspired by interesting speakers.’

Varied program

‘And there will be a lot of interesting speakers,’ he adds. The program will start on the 8th of September with an interview with Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal, a well-known journalist who will discuss the U.S. elections and recent developments. Three weeks later, expert on autism Martine Delfos will hold a symposium explaining what autism is and how it gets diagnosed. ‘The student counselling at the UT actually asked us to cover this topic,’ explains Timmerman. ‘There are many people on the autistic spectrum on campus, yet many don’t know much about it and even go undiagnosed.’

From the rest of the program, Timmerman highlights the Week of Inspiration which is organized in November and will also contain a lecture by Peter Kuipers Munneke on ‘melting polar ice’. ‘I’m very excited for this lecture. Munneke was meant to come already last year, but the talk had to be cancelled and rescheduled to April, which had to be cancelled again.’ Hopefully, ‘third time’s the charm’ and the expert on ice will be able to talk about his field trips to Greenland, Antarctica and Spitsbergen.

Corona rules

During the lockdown in the spring, all physical events had to be cancelled on campus. To offer an alternative, Studium Generale was involved in making ‘Campus Talks’. Four episodes of this online UT talk show aired before the summer. Will this initiative continue now? ‘That’s still a bit uncertain,’ replies Timmerman. ‘Within three weeks we have a meeting in which we decide what to do.’

Unless situation changes, SG will focus on offering various events on campus. For all of them, strict corona measures will be in place, stresses Timmerman. ‘We will be very careful. We have a seating plan, a walking route and the registrations in case we have to contact the participants. We want to give people a sense of safety, so that they can come to the campus and be inspired.’