On 18 October, ISS celebrated its 66th anniversary, our Dies Natalis. As a way of visually cementing our nine-year linkage with Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), we embedded our Dies in the context of EUR’s 105th anniversary. This EUR milestone will be celebrated around the theme of Science meets City – expressing the University’s desire to be strongly embedded in the city of Rotterdam and, given ISS presence here and our emphasis on the social relevance of our teaching and research, in The Hague.
But why ‘Erasmus by the Sea’? The more formal description of our relationship with EUR is ‘The Hague campus of Erasmus University Rotterdam’, but Erasmus by the Sea more graphically encapsulates our geographic and intellectual relationship with the University. In fact, Erasmus by the Sea was the theme of our Dies celebrations, and we had hoped to hold the event at the beach. However, this being autumn in the Netherlands, the weather dictated otherwise, and we decided stay put on the Kortenaerkade for the academic component but hold the reception at the Panorama Mesdag, just opposite ISS in the Zeestraat. In short: Erasmus by the Sea.
The ISS Dies was opened by EUR Rector Magnificus Rutger Engels who expressed his appreciation of ISS and his happiness that we have been part of the University for almost a decade. The President of the EUR Executive Board, Kristel Baele, gave the keynote speech in which she set out the University’s strategic plan for 2019-2024. Echoing Rutger Engels’ words, she recognized ISS’ role in the strategic plan, highlighting the important role ISS can play in the fields of internationalization, interdisciplinarity, and the societal relevance of research and teaching. She also pointed to the growing number of collaborations between EUR and ISS, and made clear that core ISS values such as social justice and equity closely resemble the values of EUR. Importantly, she emphasized that there can be collaboration without denying our respective differences and histories. She compared the ISS- EUR collaboration to an older couple coming together later in life: they both have to jigsaw their former independent lives into a shared existence.
Kristen Baeles’ words made me reflect on our relationship with the University and I started drawing up a list of our joint activities; a list that included our research collaborations with the Rotterdam Global Health Initiative, the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens, the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa, and the KidsRights Index; our teaching collaboration with the International Housing Institute on Sustainable Local Economic Development; and our collaboration in the management and administration of our organization.
A constant presence throughout our Dies celebrations was the world-renowned 16th century humanist thinker from Rotterdam, Desiderius Erasmus (after whom the university is named). As a living statue, Erasmus can be seen around the EUR campus in Rotterdam, and he travelled to The Hague on 18 October to provide a lucid illustration of our relationship with the university. But of course, in true ISS style, even the illustrious Erasmus took a critical turn – rather than being represented by a man, he was represented by a woman…