On the recommendation of the Board of the University of Groningen, Dr Frans J. Sijtsma has been appointed as academic director of the Rudolf Agricola School for Sustainable Development with effect from 1 February 2023. This concerns a 0.5 FTE appointment for four years. Sijtsma is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. He succeeds Dr Kees van Veen, who left on 1 November 2022 as Director of Sustainable Society, the predecessor of the Agricola School. Sijtsma is already serving as interim director.
The Agricola School is very pleased with Sijtsma's appointment. He is someone who is very familiar with the organization and its history, and very experienced in working with academics from different disciplines and in collaborating with societal organizations. Sijtsma was already coordinator of the Sustainable Landscapes theme within the organization, one of the four current themes within the School.
'The development of the Agricola School is a great opportunity for the UG to contribute more strongly to making our society more sustainable. At its core, sustainability is about connecting: strengthening the relationship between people, and nature and strengthening the connection between people in unequal circumstances. As Director, I strive to bring new knowledge and sustainable development closer through creative collaboration between academics and societal organizations. At the UG, there are very many motivated and inspiring academics and students with good ideas and in-depth knowledge for sustainability! For me, it is an honour to help shape Agricola as a connecting network that places science more at the heart of society.'
Rector Magnificus Cisca Wijmenga of the UG concurs:
'Sijtsma is someone with a great deal of knowledge in his field, a large network, and a clear inspiring vision on the future and development of the Agricola School. With four Schools that will find a home in the Groot Handelshuis on the Grote Markt in Groningen, we as a university are striving for visibility and impact on society. Now that Sijtsma will head one of those Schools, we are confident that the Agricola School will make an important contribution to a sustainable society with innovative and interdisciplinary teaching and research based on economic prosperity, social equality, sustainability, and, importantly, the governance that goes with it.'
Dr Frans J. Sijtsma (Feanwâlden/1964) has been based at the University of Groningen since 1992. He is trained as an economist and has a PhD in evaluation and sustainability. He has worked at the former Amro Bank and at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). For the past ten years, he has been working within the Economic Geography basic unit of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences. His research focuses on the value of nature and landscape within economic development and spatial planning. Sijtsma also teaches evaluation, economic geography, and nature valuation. He also coordinates the Research Master of the Faculty of Spatial Sciences.
The Rudolf Agricola School for Sustainable Development is the University of Groningen's network organization in the field of sustainable development. In the School, UG academics and lecturers from a broad spectrum of disciplines work together with societal organizations and the public on the road to greater sustainability.
The School is named after the well-known Groningen humanist Rudolf Agricola (1443-1485). In 1484, Agricola wrote about learning and studying: 'the most important thing is (...) to invent something new and bequeath it to others, in other words creativity, for otherwise we are no more than a book that holds things.' These ideas fit well with the school named after him.
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