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Home@House of Connections: Wubbo Ockels School for Energy and Climate

15 May 2023
Inside the House of Connections

Four Schools for Science & Society and the University of the North (UvhN) will operate from the House of Connections—part of the Groot Handelshuis—at the Grote Markt. Who will they collaborate with, what will they tackle first, and how will the House Of Connections support them to achieve their goals? The Wubbo Ockels School for Energy and Climate kicks off this series.

Who do you collaborate with within and outside the Wubbo Ockels School?

The Wubbo Ockels School collaborates with various stakeholders in the North and beyond. Together with knowledge institutions of all educational levels, various regional and local government institutions, and industry, we are collaborating on important regional themes, such as hydrogen, climate adaptation, and citizen participation. These involve parties such as the New Energy Coalition, the Global Center on Adaptation, but also the University of the North. This network of partners is continually being maintained and expanded further. Within the University, the Wubbo Ockels School collaborates with the three other interdisciplinary schools and with various services and faculties at the UG. The collaboration with the Municipality of Groningen for the project ‘Groningen carbon-neutral by 2030’, and the collaboration with the Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Alfa College, and Noorderpoort concerning the development of a race car powered by hydrogen are engaging examples.

What did you start on after moving to the House of Connetions?

The first thing the Wubbo Ockels School undertook in the House of Connections was the organization of ‘Wubbo's Legacy’. On 3 April, this successful event took place: an afternoon full of inspiration and memories of an astronaut, researcher, and change maker.

Astronaut Wubbo Ockels
Astronaut Wubbo Ockels

About 60 attendees listened to stories by Ton Schoot Uiterkamp, a former colleague and good friend of Ockels, and Ockels's wife Joos, who was presented with the first copy of Ton's essay ‘Wubbo Ockels, a multitalented man’. Joos explained Ockels’s three main principles: ‘We are all astronauts on spaceship Earth, optimism about sustainability is a responsibility, and sustainability is not less, but different, and much more fun.’

Ockels’s former student Pieter Hofstede, former internship supervisor Ramon Alberts, and co-founder of 'De Groene Grachten' Suze Gehem told how his passion for a sustainable planet continues to inspire their work today. Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga also addressed the audience. Additionally, there was also an interactive programme where challenges were raised and a toast was given by Prof. Lorenzo Squintani, director of the Wubbo Ockels School. Everyone was given a copy of the booklet ‘Wubbo Ockels, a multitalented man’.

How do you think the House of Connections is able to support you in achieving your goals?

The House of Connections is a building where everything converges; it symbolizes exactly what the Wubbo Ockels School stands for: Taking in information from the outside, and in return communicating what goes on inside to the outside. It is the interaction between the academic world and the broader society. Through the House of Connections, the Wubbo Ockels School wants to increase the intensity of its collaboration with the other schools. Moreover, the Wubbo Ockels School wants to forge a creative community by organizing events such as conferences, lectures, workshops, and debates.

What do you look forward to most?

As the Wubbo Ockels School, we look forward to connecting with others, which fits well with the University's Strategic Plan ‘Making Connections’. To us, connecting with others presents an exciting challenge to promote knowledge development, which we can achieve by linking people and ideas to each other. From cross-pollination between different disciplines to the Academy and the wider audience. New perspectives and developments arise where different worlds meet, and it is our ambition to build these bridges. By doing so, we hope to contribute to the tackling of current issues, such as making Groningen carbon-neutral. Science no longer only concerns the University, but everyone.

When will you consider the House of Connections a success?

When the House of Connections has become a known factor where students and researchers, but also the wider public can meet each other. It is a hub for meeting others, exchanging ideas, and interdisciplinarity for science and society. A place where collaboration flourishes, and connections are made. That is our inspiration, and also our aspiration.

Last modified:20 October 2023 2.16 p.m.
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