Our Human Geography master programme has been steadily growing in number of students. Of course, this is a very good sign, as it shows how attractive our programme is for students and how relevant the topics are which we address in our programme. This really triggers our students. Geography in general and Human Geography, in particular, is about how we deal with our physical, but also with our social environment. And this is not an easy nor unproblematic relationship, and our students are really very keen on making a difference in practice, and on helping to find solutions to urging problems. The topical issues we deal with in Human Geography are not very evident from the name of our discipline: ‘Human Geography’. Who really knows what that is about…? But if you take a look at our specific Master Specialisations, it becomes clear how topical and important these issues are, which we address in our programme. Through these Master Specialisations, we seem to touch a sensitive chord and that explains the great attraction our programme has on students.
Especially in the Dutch University System, which for its funding is so dependant on the number of students, this is very important. So, both for reasons or creating a sound financial basis for our teaching and research, as well as to make an important contribution to a better world, I have always been dreaming of surpassing the magical number of 100 new master students. This is of course, somehow ridiculous because 99 or 101 are numbers which are as beautiful and magical as 100. But of course, we somehow need a vision and to speak with Martin Luther King, ‘we need a dream’!
So I promised my colleague in our Geography Group, Dr. Martin van der Velde, who is responsible for the sometimes tedious job of finding Supervisors for our master students, a bottle of wine, once we surpass the number of 100 new master students. Although we all enjoy teaching and enjoy working together with students on a better future, it is also quite an effort, especially in times of severe austerity measures, my colleague was therefore always hoping not to get that bottle of wine, and was rather satisfied with the ‘small is beautiful’ slogan.
Nevertheless, this year my dream came true… We have now well surpassed the threshold of 100 new Human Geography Master Students, while the way we organise our Master Programme still preserves the advantages of ‘being small and beautiful’. Probably it is totally irrational, but somehow it gives me a good feeling, especially if one remembers that when I started my job at this University there were only about 12 Master Students.
But under the current Covid-19 circumstances we cannot really celebrate this occasion. So this virtual blog entry and the virtual bottle of wine should do the job. Thanks to all our Geography Group members! We could not have done it without you…! Cheers.
And of course also thanks to our students. With them at least we could properly celebrate the start of the new academic year with an informal bicycle tour to the Thornse Mill and a real Dutch pancake dinner.
We somehow again have contributed to the special place, called ‘Human Geography’ and the ‘Human Geography group’ at the Radboud University Nijmegen. This is ‘intellectual placemaking’…