7 November 2013: Excellence through Diversity symposium

The annual symposium on diversity will take place on 7 November. This symposium is an opportunity for staff and students of Leiden University to discuss the contribution that diversity and inclusivity can make to research and education, and to the university as an organisation. Inspiring speakers from at home and abroad will share their views with the participants. Everybody interested in this topic is welcome to attend.

Afternoon programme

The afternoon programme is particularly aimed at staff, although students are also very welcome. The working language of the symposium will be English. 

1.00 pm Welcome and reception

1.30 pm Simone Buitendijk
The Vice-Rector Magnificus of Leiden University, Simone Buitendijk, will discuss the progress achieved since last year’s symposium and will share ideas on how diversity can be put into practice at Leiden University. Buitendijk: 'Diversity and inclusivity in our staff and student body will lead to a change in our organizational culture, will position us globally and will provide excellence in teaching and research.'

2 pm Thomas Brage (LUND)
Abstract: Using examples from a project on Gender Certification at the Physics Department in Lund University and the Gendered Innovation project of Stanford University and the European Commission, Thomas Brage will discuss the importance of including a gender perspective when working with quality assurance, excellence in research (and teaching) and an improved work environment in Physics institutes. Brage will describe the background reasoning and motivation, and will provide an outline of the process at different levels within the university. He will also offer a number of concrete examples of what can happen in a Department that is engaged in a project on Gender and Physics.

2.45 pm Break

3.00 pm Maurice Crul (VU)
Abstract: International migration has changed Western European cities dramatically. Within two generations the ethnic make-up of our cities has been turned upside down. According to the official statistics of 1 January 2011, Amsterdam is already a ‘majority minority’ city, i.e. a city where the old majority group has become a minority. Other cities, such as Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague, will soon follow. While the super-diverse city is a growing reality, the idea of multiculturalism has increasingly come under attack. The most important criticism aimed at multiculturalism is that the idea of tolerance of cultural differences is naive, because multiculturalism also opens the door to cultural expressions that are oppressive to other people. Most importantly, tolerance of cultural expressions also means tolerance of expressions that are intolerant towards women and homosexuals. This has paralysed the integration debate for many years. Professor Maurice Crul offers a new perspective on this debate. Based on the largest European survey among second-generation immigrants in Europe, he emphasises that education plays a crucial role in ensuring a positive outcome for our super-diverse cities. However, he also warns that if people are not given educational opportunities, we may well be facing a more pessimistic outcome.

3.45 pm Introduction to the new Diversity Officer
The task of the Diversity Officer is to further shape the diversity policy of Leiden University in collaboration with the faculties. The newly appointed Diversity Officer will introduce him or herself and provide an introduction to the steps to be taken towards greater diversity in the coming years.

4.30 pm Conclusion

Evening programme

The evening programme is specially for students, but staff are also very welcome. The working language will be English.

5.00 pm Drinks, dinner and start of evening programme for staff and students
During dinner, staff and students will have the opportunity via speed-dating to meet each other and discuss diversity, while enjoying a multicultural tasting experience.

6.00 pm Award ceremony for the Joris van Bergen Fund. Who will win the 2013 prize?
The jury will announce the winners of the 2013 contest. The prize will be awarded to the group or organisation that submits the best plan for an activity within the Leiden academic community that has the potential to contribute to or meet the goals of the Van Bergen Fund, namely promoting contact between Dutch and foreign students.The winners of the 2012 contest will present the progress of their projects.

7.00 pm Start of workshops
Participants can choose 1 of the 4 workshops, based on pitches that will be presented during dinner:

  • Workshop 1. Gender matters at the top!
    (Fe)male. Do two letters explain the differences in career opportunities? Join the workshop to discuss the controversies of gender issues and the Leiden University's diversity policy! This workshop will go into the gender dimension of our own academic environment, Leiden University. Tackling questions such as: To what extent is our university actually influenced by gender stereotyping? (How) do you experience the gender-dimension? What kind of issues have already been addressed?

  • Workshop 2. Sexual diversity and what it means for students and employees of Leiden University
    What if you were a female student and discovered that you are attracted to other women? Would that be a problem for you, your family or your fellow students?
    And how about if you were a guy, but realized some time earlier that inside you felt like a woman? The university offers help, but your immediate surroundings will react in a particular way if and when you tell them. In this workshop we will start off with a general explanation of what it is to be sexually diverse. Since our goal is to allow you to ask questions, and hopefully get them answered, this will not be a lecture on sexual diversity. This will be a group discussion, led by an experienced fellow student.

  • Workshop 3. Imaging, media and cultural diversity
    Leiden has a growing culturally diverse student population. Is this group sufficiently represented in university magazines such as Mare and the university newsletter? Are they aware of this growing population and how do they deal with it? Do students feel sufficiently represented by these media? ? Do students feel sufficiently represented by these media? What is your opinion about imaging, media and cultural diversity at Leiden University? In order to address these and other questions a discussion will be held with Mare, the university newsletter and the Ad Valvas, the university magazine of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Join the discussion!

  • Workshop 4. Multicultural dance workshop
    Join our fun, non-competitive, flowing educational dance workshop and expand your international experience!

    8.00 pm Round-up

    The results and outcomes of the 4 workshops will be presented to the participants.

8.30 pm Closing words by Simone Buitendijk


The symposium will take place in the Kamerlingh Onnes Building, at the Steenschuur in Leiden.


Please register for the afternoon symposium by filling in the registration form by 1 November, mentioning your position and faculty/institute. You do not need to register for the evening programme.

More information

If you have any questions about the symposium, please contact Mirella van Imthorn at the Events Office, who will be happy to help. You can reach her by mail: mmh.imthorn@bb.leidenuniv.nl, or by phone: 071 5273135.

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Last Modified: 24-10-2013