Recently , the Young Academy Groningen (YAG) celebrated its first lustrum. Established in 2016, the YAG quickly became a driving force for interdisciplinary research and engagement with people in the Northern Netherlands. Today, the YAG is also an invaluable platform within the University for policy innovations that strengthen the position of early and mid-career academics. The lustrum programme illustrated the YAG’s capacity to voice the needs of this group with a creative and positive mindset.
Postponed due to COVID-19, the festive atmosphere was tangible in the Aula of the Academy Building. YAG members, alumni, members of the Board of the University and faculty boards, interdisciplinary PhD students supervised by YAG members, collaborators, and friends collectively reflected on the YAG activities that took place during the past five years and discussed future ambitions.
The Young Academy Groningen is a network of talented and engaged early and mid-career scholars from all faculties of the University of Groningen. In the first five years since its foundation, the YAG has developed into a hub where academics meet, exchange ideas, and try new things, free from competition and hierarchy.
The YAG hosts regular lunches for early-career researchers on topics such as mentoring and work-life balance. The YAG is also a discussion partner for the Board of the University, to whom members provide the perspective of early-career researchers. YAG members participate in developing the University of Groningen’s strategy for developing open science and implementing practices to reward and recognize academic work more holistically.
The YAG has contributed to large local events that are accessible to the public, including the visit by the King of the Netherlands to Groningen in 2018 and the Noorderzon festival in 2019. With these activities, the YAG not only makes connections between the University and the public but also trains early-career researchers in disseminating their work to a non-academic audience. Similarly, YAG members have published a book in which the scientific truth behind widely known proverbs is discussed—the book is popular among a wide readership.
The YAG advocates for good and safe working conditions for early-career researchers. As part of this mission, keynote speaker Aukje Nauta, Professor in Organizational Psychology at Leiden University, unpacked the impact of shame in the work context. Together with the audience, Prof. Nauta explored how feeling ashamed generates unnecessary negative emotions. Sharing what one feels ashamed of can be liberating as well as productive. Discussing shame aligns very well with a pod cast episode produced by the YAG on successes and failures in academia, in which the value of ‘failures’ is discussed by two successful University of Groningen professors.
The YAG will continue to provide an inclusive environment for early-career academics. It is eager to continue its role as an agenda-setter for good and safe working conditions. It will launch new initiatives to engage with society and will act as frontrunner of interdisciplinary teaching and research.
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