On Monday, SP Member of Parliament Sandra Beckerman and several members from the SP youth organisation ROOD were campaigning for independent science on campus Woudestein. This was in response to a recent study by Changerism into the links between Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) and the fossil industry.
“Science is increasingly starting to look like ‘Wij van Wc-eend adviseren Wc-eend’ [We from Wc-eend advise Wc-eend],” says Beckerman. “The Changerism study shows that companies like Shell can have a major influence on education and research at Erasmus University.” On Monday afternoon, the SP supporters were on campus with a large yellow duck, which students could hit with a hammer.
'Students want research into clean solutions'
On Monday, Beckerman was particularly keen to talk to students. “Most of the students feel that climate change and sustainability is an important theme. They are concerned about it and want research into clean solutions, not fossil ones. If we want to have a clean future, we need clean science.”
“In my opinion, it’s part of a wider problem,” says Beckerman. “The Netherlands invests too little in fundamental research, less than the EU and the OECD average. Only part of the money that is allocated to science goes to applied research or to R&D departments in industry. Even the European Commission – not the SP’s best friend – says: ‘You can do better, Holland.”
Scope for fundamental research
According to Beckerman, the commercialisation of science impacts on its independence and creates less scope for fundamental research. “It’s fundamental research that leads to breakthroughs. When I was teaching at the University of Groningen, I was proud of Ben Feringa’s Nobel Prize. His research can lead to all kinds of breakthroughs, in cancer treatment for example. But as he himself said, such breakthroughs won’t happen unless more money is allocated to science.”
Removed by security
Like last year, when Beckerman wanted to draw attention to a debate about independent science, the SP members were removed from the campus. According to Security, they are not allowed to distribute flyers on Woudestein. “When we were sent away last year, Erasmus University pretended that nothing was wrong with the commercialisation of science,” says student and ROOD member Arno van der Veen. “Now it seems that the cooperation with industry is taking on problematic forms.”