Opening Academic Year




Opening Academic Year

VU Amsterdam



The opening ceremony is to mark the new academic year at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. This year’s opening ceremony is entitled
Thin ice! What can science do to help?

The new government must pursue a clear, long-term climate policy.’
That was the message delivered by the leaders of the Dutch business community after a three-day expedition to the Arctic. The trip was organized by documentary maker Bernice Notenboom. She succeeded in convincing these top managers by making them see the melting polar ice cap with their own eyes.

What can scientists learn from Ms Notenboom? How can they get everyone to grasp the true urgency of global warming? And might these lessons also be applicable to other major social issues involving science?

Bernice Notenboom, Bas Heijne – the Writer in Residence, and Jaap Winter – President of the Executive Board, will address this question during the opening ceremony to mark the new academic year. In addition, the British writer and religious scholar Karen Armstrong will receive an honorary doctorate, for her compassionate contribution to the debate about the position of different religions in society. Also, the StudenTalent Award will go to a VU Amsterdam student who has distinguished himself/herself in intellectual and social terms.

14.15Reception in the Foyer
15.00Start of the academic session in the Aula
Opening speech by Jaap Winter, President of the Executive Board
Lecture by Bernice Notenboom
Presentation of StudenTalent Award
Musical intermezzo
Conferral of honorary doctorate on Karen Armstrong
Reflection by Bas Heijne – Writer in Residence
Concluding remarks by Jaap Winter
16.30Reception in the Foyer

This event can be followed live via this livestream.

For more information about the opening ceremony to mark the new academic year and the honorary doctorate, please visit