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3. Impact on Policy and Education

Radboud Reflects

Radboud Reflects, the university’s debate centre, moved its venue to Nieuwspoort in The Hague in 2020. Professors Hans de Kroon and Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers kicked off the Radboud Current Events Lectures in January with ‘The nitrogen crisis: thinking differently about economics and nature’.

The university’s administration encouraged the move to The Hague, partly because of the influential audience there. Fifty politicians, civil servants, policymakers and stakeholders attended the first lecture. Executive Board President Daniël Wigboldus and Rector Han van Krieken were also present to add lustre to the occasion. More name recognition in The Hague is nice, but not the main objective, according to Wigboldus: “We think that where we can add something to the debate, we should do so, also beyond our campus.” Four annual current affairs lectures will be held in Nieuwspoort, but COVID-19 limited the series to two in 2020.

The rest of the Radboud Reflects programme took place largely online, under the name Radboud Reflects@Home. Anouta de Groot, head of programming for Radboud Reflects, still thinks of 2020 as a successful year. “Despite the lack of physical visitors, we still created attractive, interesting and valuable programmes for a wide audience.” The online programmes were viewed 380,000 times in 2020, and the number of YouTube subscribers grew by 3,600.

‘Despite the lack of physical visitors, we still created attractive, interesting and valuable programmes for a wide audience’

- Anouta de Groot

A Collection of Popular Books

Every year, Radboud scholars share their knowledge with the broader public through popular books written for a general audience. Here are some of them published in 2020, with one book from each faculty:

Faculty of Arts | Lotte Jensen | Crisis en catastrofe (Crisis and Catastrophe) | Walburg Pers

Lotte Jensen, Professor of Dutch Literary and Cultural History, describes the influence that catastrophes in the 19th century had on belief in God, solidarity and charity, as well as local and national identity building. She also addresses the cultural representation of disasters in literature, paintings and memorial books. Jensen is leading a research project on how disasters have been handled through the ages in the Netherlands, and she spoke about it during her speech at the opening of the 2020 academic year.

Faculty of Law | Paul Bovend'Eert | De Koning en de monarchie. Toekomstbestendig? (The King and the Monarchy. Future-proof?)| Wolters Kluwer

Does the monarchy have a future in the Netherlands? What changes are needed to ensure a sustainable kingship in the 21st century? Professor of Constitutional Law Paul Bovend'Eert offers a comprehensible account of the development of the Dutch monarchy, focusing on its future stability.

Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies | Thomas Quartier | Levensliederen. Soundtrack voor kloosterspiritualiteit (Life Songs. Soundtrack for Monastic Spirituality) | Walburg Pers

Music and spirituality are bound together like body and soul. Both bring a person to the very core of life, to emotions and to desires for meaning and balance. Professor of Comparative Religious Studies Thomas Quartier partly based this book on his experience as a Benedictine monk.

Faculty of Science | Heino Falcke (with Jörg Römer) | Light in the Darkness: Black Holes, the Universe and Us  | Prometheus

On 10 April 2019, Professor of Astrophysics Heino Falcke presented the first-ever photo of a black hole – world news and a turning point in astronomy. In Light in the Darkness (published in Dutch and English), Falcke tells how we got to this point – from primordial man’s first glimpse of the sky to modern astrophysics, black hole research and the unrevealed secrets of the universe – and what it means to him and to all of us.

Faculty of Social Sciences | Anouke Bakx et al. | enIQma

With the enIQma game, Anouke Bakx and her team want to make insights into giftedness accessible to primary school teachers and parents. The game won second prize from the Netherlands Initiative for Education Research (NRO Connection Prize) for the most successful connection between science and practice. Bakx is Professor by special appointment of Giftedness at Radboud University and lecturer of Good Teaching and Good Leadership at Fontys University of Applied Sciences.

Nijmegen School of Management | Romain Malejack |Warlord Survival: The  Delusion of State Building in Afghanistan | Cornell University Press

How do Afghan warlords manage to remain relevant in a hostile political environment, and how do they know how to rise to power again and again? This book answers those questions based on more than 100 in-depth interviews in Afghanistan. Between 2007 and 2018, the author spoke with ministers, regional administrators and the warlords and their entourages, as well as diplomats, scientists, journalists and NGO workers.

Faculty of Medical Sciences | Bas Bloem et al. | Ending Parkinson’s Disease | Public Affairs (US)

Parkinson’s is becoming a pandemic. Between 1990 and 2015, the number of Parkinson’s patients doubled to over six million worldwide, and another doubling is expected by 2040. Professor of Neurology Bas Bloem, together with three other top scientists, highlights an approach to the fastest growing neurological disorder in the world. The Dutch translation will follow in 2021.

Alarm about Decline in Biodiversity

Ingrid Visseren-Hamakers, Professor of Environmental Governance and Politics, featured prominently in the social debate about making society and the economy more sustainable. In 2020, she was a guest in the Dutch Lower House to offer recommendations about stimulating economic growth. Visseren-Hamakers advocated focusing not only on the climate, but also on biodiversity and pollution. She also hopes that the focus of policy will change from growth to broad prosperity.

Visseren-Hamakers was also one of the coordinating lead authors of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). In that report, experts sounded the alarm about the dramatic worldwide decline in biodiversity.

Jan Jonker Delivers Sustainability Address

In September, Jan Jonker, Professor of Sustainable Business Practice at Nijmegen School of Management, delivered the 2020 sustainability address, which was also his farewell speech as a professor. Jonker presented a vision for fundamental change in the Netherlands based on seven ‘levers’. “The past decade has shown that we are talking about complex issues of sustainability, circularity, and inclusiveness more and more, but that action with real impact is not increasing at the same pace. Truly good solutions are missing, which is not in line with the ambition that we should have as a country and as citizens.”


The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam opened the exhibition ‘Todesfuge: A grave in the clouds’ in December 2020. Radboud Professor of German Language and Culture Paul Sars gave the opening address and was guest curator, together with artist Helly Oestreicher. The exhibition highlights the social impact of Paul Celan's poem Todesfuge (Death Fugue), exactly 100 years after Celan's birth, 50 years after his death and 75 years after the liberation of Auschwitz and the writing of the poem. In addition to the exhibition, 25,000 pupils and teachers in secondary schools received a special teaching package that included the workbook ‘Todesfuge, een gedicht om niet vergeten’ (Todesfuge, a poem not to forget) and an accompanying website. The project was realised with support from the National Fund for Peace, Freedom and Veteran Care (vfonds), the VsB Fund, and the Faculty of Arts at Radboud University.