Rob van Lier
Rob van Lier

Column Rob van Lier: Collaboration in Motion

Put two people together with distinctly different backgrounds and have them come up with a solution for a pressing problem. Chances are the ideas put forward will be more surprising, creative and original than the two people could have come up with separately. One plus one is then more than two. Collaboration always starts with genuine openness and interest. What else is needed? In any case, it is the art of 'connecting', but above all 'persevering'. By way of illustration, here are three random recent faculty examples.

First, the new faculty artwork in the colloquium hall (MM 01.620). The artist Frans Huisman was commissioned to create a work of art around Franciscus Cornelis Donders (the namesake of the Donders Institute). He did so, but he broadened the subject considerably during an intensive process. For instance, there were many discussions with users of the space from all kinds of divisions within our faculty. The artist listened carefully and then gave that a place in the artwork, and the result was amazing. Go and have a look! 

Another example was in the last week of February when we had the faculty presentation of the four theme groups of the sector plans. The themes were chosen to be cross-domain, and it was a dynamic afternoon with many plans, collaborative ideas and fascinating discussions. It was nice to see how such cooperation leads to a connection between disciplines and how it already extends beyond the faculty! 

Finally, an initiative of a very different nature. I had been persuaded once again. Since the first weeks of January, employees of the faculty office have been walking in teams for seven weeks, each taking 10,000 steps a day under the idea of 'skip the winter dip'. So, I am also participating and have noticed how important it is for the team to persevere together and support each other when things don't work out (as long as the team takes enough steps). This together-walk initiative could inspire even more staff members in the coming years. The spontaneous conversations during such a walk could also lead to new interactions and - who knows - new collaborations. Things like these really keep ideas in motion.

Rob van Lier
Vice Dean Faculty of Social Sciences

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Faculty of Social Sciences