NSM Focus | Mundus chair Rens van der Schoot: ‘Back to the old normal!’

Date of news: 22 September 2021

The introduction is over and the new academic year has begun. But Rens van der Schoot will not be reading many textbooks this year. As ‘man with the gavel’ of Mundus, the Geography, Planning and Environment study association, he will be focussing on connecting first-years, senior students and alumni for the next 12 months.

How did you like the introduction?
“Great. It was fantastic to be able to get together again and meet the first-years in person. We organised fun parties every evening and our anniversary drinks were held on Saturday for the first-years as well as the senior students and alumni. It was a good start to the new academic year.”

Why did you put your studies on hold to join the Mundus board?
“I’ve completed the first two years of my study. Interesting, fun, educational. But in addition to gaining academic skills and knowledge, I also want to develop on a personal level while I’m a student. The role of chair suits me well: taking initiative, planning things, keeping an overview, I do well at these things. But, naturally, I still have a lot to learn. For example, I am excited to getting acquainted with everything that comes with organising big events with other board and committee members.”

Were you involved in Mundus as a first-year student?
“I was not very active in my first year. It was during the COVID-19 pandemic when I found that I missed the contact and connection with others, that I became more active and joined Mundus’ Foreign Trip Committee. For me, this evidence of the importance of study associations. You get to know like-minded people and build a network that you can benefit from during - and, of course, after - your studies.”

How is the contact between Mundus and the GPE’s alumni?
“Good, but we want to do even more. After all, alumni can tell and show our students what career opportunities are out there and where they may end up in the future. So we regularly invite them to give talks, write articles for our website and organise company visits, among other things.”

What is on Mundus’ agenda for the coming period?
“In the coming weeks, we will mainly be organising informal activities to get the first-years in touch with the senior students in a very casual way: a games evening, a party, drinks.” From October onwards, we will be organising on-site lectures and company visits. The Mundus Career Event is scheduled in November, with a day full of lectures and workshops, mostly organised by alumni. I am also really looking forward to the National Geography and Planning Symposium in February, an annual event of all GPE study associations in the Netherlands. So there are plenty of fun and interesting activities to look forward to.”

When will you consider your board year a success?
“If we can organise a year like the before the COVID-19 pandemic. Back to the old normal: that’s what I want to achieve for and with our members. Fun events, excursions and a lot of social contact. Currently, we are also setting up a buddy system for first-years to help them get started. Anyone who wants to can sign up to meet a senior student and work together to find their way around the university buildings and city faster. I also hope to further strengthen our contact with GPE alumni. While we already collaborate together on internships for third-year and fourth-year students, I would like it if we could also organise internships for first years. And I think it would be good if alumni who graduated a year or two ago could come and talk about finding their way in the job market.

Good luck this year. And, of course, enjoy.
“Thank you, I will. And to all GPEers: come and join us for a cup of coffee soon. You can find us in room 00.161 in the Elinor Ostrom building.”

Visit the website of Mundus for more information.