Prof. Erik Knorth was made an Officer of the Order of Orange-Nassau on Friday.
Mayor P. Doornenbal - van der Vlist of the Municipality of Renswoude conferred the award on him during the 50 Years Orthopedagogy Symposium.
Erik Knorth (Renkum, 1951), Professor in Orthopedagogy at the University of Groningen, has worked incredibly hard for over forty years to improve the lives of highly vulnerable young people in trouble and those of their carers. A source of inspiration to his co-workers and students and a friend to many of them, he is known as an excellent academic and respected as a leading expert nationally and internationally.
Knorth's excellent and internationally praised academic research has been officially recognized twice in his long career: he received the Ubbo Emmius Colleghie Award in 2010 and the Eusarf Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. The latter, an award for internationally renowned researchers who have made very important and influential contributions to the field of youth care, was presented to him by the European Scientific Association of Residential & Family Care for Children and Adolescents.. Despite these honourable awards, the enormous social significance of his work remains underexposed. Not only have his groundbreaking ideas and activities been of great influence on youth care policy, he has also been a vigorous stimulator and forerunner in his field. He has always been modest about this, however, never caring about personal honour and putting the social or academic cause first. He believes that it is important to achieve a lot through vision and effort. Many people praise him as a productive and selfless academic who is prolific well beyond regular working hours and who can be equally passionate about helping an individual child or a family in need as about realizing an ambitious and inspiring academic dream.
At the heart of Knorth's long career is his passion for improving the quality of youth care for young people with behavioural problems and in families with parenting problems. His sterling efforts have made youth care better and more affordable, introducing effective care programmes and increased cost efficiency. It is also to his credit that decisions and interventions are now based on science. The duration of clinical treatment at one of the youth care institutions, for instance, has been reduced from an average of ten months to three weeks, while results improved. He has also made a unique contribution to the improvement of residential care for young people who can't grow up in their own homes. He has initiated an impressive number of methods, treatments and products that are being used in all major Dutch cities and have greatly improved the position of young people with psychosocial problems previously considered lost causes.
Knorth's academic work is visionary and innovative, aimed at practical applicability in municipalities and institutions. He has made remarkable contributions to the national transformation of youth care, succeeding in building bridges between disciplines. His accessible way of writing and presenting has made the field insightful and interesting for practising professionals as well as a wider audience. As a result, he not only stimulates academics at home and abroad, he also succeeds remarkably well in inspiring active youth care professionals and in supporting them with academic knowledge that they can apply. Because of this, the Dutch government and a great number of policy institutions use his work and insights as a source of innovation in youth and foster care. He always advocates a dual policy of academic publications based on empirical research on the one hand, and practice-oriented publications and products based on these academic publications and aimed at the often stubborn reality on the workfloor on the other. His research also laid the foundations for the refugee youth protection agency's Special Chair at the UG.
Knorth has been very active as an administrator, speaker and organizer alongside his academic work. He has organized many international conferences, is a valued keynote speaker and has been involved in several forums and boards, such as the EUSARF. He is co-founder of C4Youth, for example, the Care for Youth in the Northern Netherlands academic workplace that monitored over 2000 children and their parents for three years as they made their way through youth care.
Knorth's significance is still palpable in and outside Europe, where his publications have significantly influenced policy innovations in the field. He has collaborated with colleagues from more than twelve countries, and his publications have been translated into English, Spanish and Hebrew. He has participated in international research projects, always seeking the links between psychology, orthopedagogy, psychiatry and medicine, in research as well as clinical practice. He does not limit himself to obvious collaborations within the behavioural and social sciences, but also actively contributes to projects in child and youth psychiatry, social medicine and transmural family psychiatric care.
Knorth was the ideal mentor to the many students who attended his lectures and the PhD students he supervised. He relentlessly stimulates young researchers to push their boundaries, many of whom, under his wing, have succeeded in becoming valued professionals and promising academics. Generations of students in the Netherlands and Flanders still benefit from his textbook entitled Planmatig handelen in de jeugdhulpverlening (Planned Action in Youth Care). His Handboek Jeugdzorg (Youth Care manuasl) is another example of a book that benefits the entire professional field.
Everyone who knows Knorth praises his academic merits in the same breath as his humanity and great professional and social commitment. He is known as a warm person, sincere, inspiring, modest, insensitive to status, confidence-inspiring and reliable. The intense and personal way in which he recounts his own experiences as a parent in youth care during his lectures deeply impresses his students. Since his formal retirement in 2016, Knorth has ceaselessly continued to publish his insights and supervise young researchers. It is partly due to his efforts that children and young people in the Netherlands today have access to the best possible orthopedagogical care.
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