Prof. Dr. Kocku von Stuckrad succeeded Prof. Dr. George van Kooten on September 1st as dean of the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Groningen. His first official act was the opening of the Academic Year of the faculty on September 4th. He formulated three goals he wants to achieve during his term as dean.
Von Stuckrad just returned from his sabbatical in Erfurt, Germany. There he did research for his forthcoming book The Scientification of Religion. A Historical Study of Discursive Change, 1800-2000. As dean he has less time to do research, but he welcomes the administrative tasks that are waiting. "As dean I’ll have the chance to influence the research structures of the faculty. It is an honourable task to create a good atmosphere and the right conditions so that our researchers can excel."
"But," he warns, "excellence creates obligations". He is proud of the high scores of the faculty in the recent international research assessment. The faculty should show this pride to the outside world. One of his first goals for the coming years is to strengthen the international position of the faculty, both in research and education. He is therefore particularly pleased that, starting next year, the faculty will offer an English track in the Bachelors curriculum. "Our research is world leading. This should draw students from all over the world to our faculty. We need to become a European player in the field of academic education. Offering an English Masters programme is not enough to achieve this goal."
A second priority is the professionalization of applications for research grants. "The quality of our research must lead to bringing in more grants. I want to provide the right environment and develop procedures that make it easier for our staff to write successful applications. We should be creative and not always turn to the usual grant programmes such as the ones of NWO. A good example is the crowdfunding project of Professor Mladen Popovi ć : by bringing in private money he will apply techniques of artificial intelligence to examine who were the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”
These two priorities should lead to further growth of the faculty. His predecessor Prof. George van Kooten has laid the foundations for this growth. "The faculty is in good shape. There is now a clear focus on the quality of research and teaching and the faculty has a coherent profile. The collaboration with the Protestant Theological University and the appointment of endowed professors are also great merits of my predecessor. This is a good basis to move on and expand our activities in the future."
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