Associate Professor Dr Erin Wilson will be the new Vice-Dean of The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies as of 1 Januari 2020. She will be responsible for the Faculty’s educational programmes and therefore will be the Director of Education as well. She will succeed Dr Sipco Vellenga.
Erin K. Wilson (Australia) studied political science, gained a PhD from the University of Queensland in 2008, and worked for some time at RMIT University in Melbourne. Since 2012, she has worked at the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen, as founding director (2012-2017) of the Centre for Religion, Conflict and Globalization (then known as the Centre for Religion, Conflict and the Public Domain). In 2016, she was admitted to De Jonge Akademie (The Young Academy, DJA). The DJA is a platform within the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) for young, world-class scientists and scholars with an innovative vision on science and scholarship and related policy. She also co-founded the internationally renowned blog The Religion Factor
Dr Wilson’s research is positioned at the intersection of religious studies and international relations. She has developed new frameworks for analyzing the role of religion in world politics and global justice. Her research in the fields of migration, gender equality, development, human rights and climate change is regularly applied to national and international politics and policy documents as well as by practical experts in societal organizations.
In 2014, Dr Wilson was elected Lecturer of the Year of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. During the election of Lecturer of the Year of the University of Groningen in 2015, she received the Audience Award for her lecture on Religion and Politics.
The Faculty’s students nominated her because she knows how to stimulate her students to think critically by focusing on the link between theory and social practice. ‘The university is not only an institution for acquiring knowledge, it also has a responsibility to produce good citizens, people who can think critically and are committed to making the world a better place,’ says Wilson. She also sees it as her task to help her students transition from study to work. To this end they are required to practise writing policy papers. Her students appreciate her humour, calm personality and genuine interest in them. ‘She is really open. When she says that we can come to her any time if we have a question or a problem, she really means it, and she actually makes time for us. She also creates a really open atmosphere in her lectures so that everyone feels safe to join in the discussion.’
One of the main issues she will focus on as Vice-Dean will be the mental health of the academic staff in relation to the workload and high pressure they are experiencing. Recently, she published an article in Times Higher Education on how academics can improve their quality of life, tapping into her own experiences.
Wilson: 'One of my main priorities is to avoid reproducing the cultures and behaviours that made me ill in the first place. It’s not easy. These behaviours and cultures are deeply entrenched. Financial pressures on universities can make it impossible to implement change. Sometimes, though, it is not about what is possible. It is about who we are, who we want to be, what we want our universities to be, holding fast to what we value, even (especially) when those values are under threat or entirely absent.'
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