Dean's Master Class: New University and the Rethink Movement: What does it mean for PhD candidates?

June 24, 2015


Event Information

Type: Master Class

Date: June 24 (Wednesday) 2015

Time: 12.15 - 17.00
(walk-in lunch 12.15 - 12.45; drinks afterwards)

Location: EUR Woudestein campus (map, pdf), Van der Goot building (M)

  • Room 'Auckland' (M3-04)

Enrolment: free for Graduate School members
(before Wednesday, June 17)

Contact: 

Telephone: +31 (0)10 40 82607


The upcoming edition of the Dean's Master Class will focus on 'the New University and the ReThink EUR' movement. Four EUR scholars will present their insights on the them, followed by discussion.

Dutch universities have recently witnessed occupations and discussions about the state of Dutch academia. The movement goes under different names, like 'New University' or 'Rethink' the university. In other countries these ideas have been picked up under the heading of 'Occupy' (among others the London School of Economics, the University of Toronto and the University of Manchester).

This terminology covers a wider range of critical reflections regarding the organisation and culture of current university life, of which it is sometimes unclear if and how they have relevance for PhD candidates.

We invite our PhD communities and others interested to come and discuss the themes that we think are important and that PhD candidates themselves want to discuss. We have four speakers who will discuss a matter of their interest, after which we will have extended discussion using different kinds of conversation formats. 


Speakers Dean's Master Class "New University and the Rethink Movement"


Irene van Oorschot is a PhD candidate at the department of Sociology of Erasmus University Rotterdam. She is also an active supporter of the Erasmus University ReThink movement and recently spoke at an open meeting with the board of EUR on the proposed university reforms.

Title presentation:
"What is EUR ReThink?"

Money – the most abstracted measure of value – is an impoverished measure of the multiple values at stake in academic work. Relatedly, the burgeoning use of catch phrases like 'excellence' fail to fundamentally capture this multiplicity of values. So what is the value of our academic work? And what kind of values do we enact in our every-day work practices?

Set up as a collaborative session, we will together attempt to link up our own observations and experiences with a set of theoretical and political concerns with time, with our public relevance, and with story-telling.

Required reading:


Assistant Professor Jeff Handmaker

International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)

Jeff Handmaker is Assistant Professor and Senior Lecturer at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS). His expertise lie in (among others) civic-state interactions, in which he has trained government officials, police officers, military personnel, lawyers, NGOs and journalists. He has also advised governments, the United Nations and civil society organisations in the development sector.

Title presentation:
"Is political engagement possible in the PhD trajectory?"

There are numerous pressures faced by emerging scholars both embarking on, and seeking to complete their doctoral research. The constraints of funding PhD research and identifying a supportive supervision team are acknowledged and preoccupy the minds of those wanting to take their research aspirations to a high level.

However, far less acknowledged are the often hidden constraints faced by emerging scholars wanting to write on topics that are highly sensitive, coupled with widely held assumptions that those engaging in academic study should refrain from being politically engaged. Highly polarised issues such as Dutch academic connections with the Israeli-Palestinian impasse clearly reveal these constraints and challenges. Drawing on examples from this particular issue, this presentation will speak to certain challenges that academic researchers may encounter when engaging in social or political activism.

Required reading:
Handmaker, J. (forthcoming, 2015) Taking Academic Freedom Seriously: Exploring the Legal and Moral Underpinnings of BDS. The Palestine Yearbook of International Law, 17.
Available upon registration


Liesbet van Zoonen is professor of Sociology at Erasmus University Rotterdam, dean of the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities, and holds a chair in Media and Communication at Loughborough University (UK).

Title presentation:
"On the perverse effects of the pursuit of excellence"

Required reading:
Zoonen, E.A. van (forthcoming 2015). "Pleidooi voor de middenmaat" (Eng: In praise of 'good enough'). Sociologie.
Available upon registration


Assistant Professor Erwin Dekker

Arts and Culture Studies

Erwin Dekker is Assistant Professor in cultural economics at the Department of Arts and Culture Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. He is regularly involved in giving policy advice to the cultural sector.

Title presentation:
"PhD candidate and lecturer: how do you balance having two jobs at the same time?"

I will reflect on my experiences as an external PhD candidate and later PhD-lecturer, as part of a group of five PhD-lecturers that started at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) in 2011. Special attention will be paid to the relation and tension between teaching and research and how that might help or hinder your transition to a post-doctoral position. Furthermore, I will reflect on why I wrote a monograph in a time when everybody told me to write journal articles instead.

Required reading:
Dekker, E. & Klamer, A. (forthcoming 2015) "About Doing the Right Thing as an Academic Economist". The Oxford Handbook of Professional Economic Ethics, Oxford University Press.
Available upon registration