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Klaas van Berkel presents Part 1 of a History of the University of Groningen

University of the North, four hundred years of academic life in Groningen
11 September 2014

On Friday 12 September, Klaas van Berkel, Professor of History at the University of Groningen, will present the first part of his comprehensive history of the University of Groningen to Rector Magnificus, Prof. Elmer Sterken.Van Berkel wrote Universiteit van het Noorden. Vier eeuwen academisch leven in Groningen to mark the 400th anniversary of the University.

University of the north, part 1
University of the north, part 1

Part I begins in the late Middle Ages with a discussion of the Aduarder Kring (an academic society based in the monastery of the same name), and ends with the narrow escape in 1876, when a new Higher Education Act finally guaranteed the future of the University of Groningen. A symposium about the meaning of academic freedom will be held before the book presentation.

Academic freedom

The book revolves around the growing realization that academic freedom is an essential aspect of a university community. Halfway through the nineteenth century, the Groningen theologian Hofstede de Groot became the first person to set out the principle of academic freedom. The book describes and analyses the controversies surrounding academic freedom at a time when religion was gradually fading into the background, while science was coming into its own.

High and low points

The University of Groningen experienced numerous high and low points during the first hundred years of its existence. Renowned academics such as the historian Ubbo Emmius, the mathematician Johann Bernoulli and the physician Petrus Camper raised the University’s profile in the Netherlands and abroad. But there were also periods (around 1800 and halfway through the nineteenth century) when student numbers dropped so dramatically that the future of the University came into serious doubt. Thanks to the close ties between university, city and province, the University was able to ride out the storms and emerge even stronger than before.
Last modified:19 March 2020 12.36 p.m.
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