Over the next four years, the Executive Board will invest €12.6 million in three overarching areas of research, EUR Rector Huib Pols told the attendees of the Dies Natalis celebration in the auditorium on Tuesday afternoon.
The three areas of research are supposed to become Erasmus University’s new spearheads, or flagships, as a previous working title suggested. Pols called the three initiatives “ambitious plans to streamline academic efforts and ensure they have a social and economic impact”.
In his speech, the Rector emphasised the importance of collaboration, not just with academics from different disciplines, but with parties from outside the university. “Science is no longer an individual pursuit of knowledge. It has become a team sport.” In addition, the Rector pointed out the societal relevance of research: “We want our research, education programmes and university to matter even more than they already do.”
So that is the idea behind the three Erasmus Initiatives. According to the Rector, the university did not come up with the three initiatives because Rotterdam-based academics already happened to be working on them, but rather because our society badly needs answers. The three programmes are called “Smarter Choices for Better Health”, “Vital Cities and Citizens” and “Inclusive Growth”.
“Choices in the health care system not only relate to medical solutions. Increasingly, they are economic choices,” said Pols. For this reason, Erasmus MC, iBMG and ESE will collaborate in the Smarter Choices for Better Health project. For its part, the Vital Cities and Citizens project focuses on the world’s population, which is becoming increasingly urbanised. “Over half the world’s population lives in urban areas, and this number is expected to go up to 66 percent by 2050.” The project will involve FSW, ESHCC and ISS joining forces to tackle subjects such as migration and diversity, safety and resilience, and culture and creativity. Not much is known yet about the Inclusive Growth project, since its plan has not yet been finalised.
The Erasmus Initiatives are the successors to the Research Excellence Initiative (REI). The Executive Board used to subsidise a few interdisciplinary research projects each year through REI. The projects will form the basis for Erasmus University’s new strategy. Each EUR faculty will be represented in one of the three initiatives.