Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

VU was established in 1880 as a “vrije universiteit”, a free university. The name of the new university clearly indicated that the founders were of the opinion that at least some other universities were unfree, and it is no secret that the Dutch state universities of the time were those that they had in mind.

The newly founded and obviously private university not just defied interference by the state but also by the church. VU operated on donations and crowdfunding in the beginning but today receives regular public funding.

The “free” however is still very much with VU today. It is the freedom to be what you are and to become what you want to be. Responsibility is intimately and inseparably connected to this freedom. Acting in freedom entails bearing responsibility for these actions. This responsibility can be towards individuals but also to society at large. VU always has these interests in mind and feels the obligation to use everything available in terms of methods, approaches and disciplines to change the world for the better.

A second key VU value is openness. Sharing knowledge increases its value and allows for a joint approach to addressing the global challenges of our time. The third key VU value is personal. VU cherishes individual differences, being at the basis of progress if treated respectfully and as a source of inspiration and new ways of looking at the world.

In today’s world VU’s constituting value set is manifest in different but related activities such as a strong orientation towards the SDG’s, multi- and transdisciplinary approaches to challenges, community engagement and service, innovation through co-creation and start-ups, equipping students with skills to realize impact, embracing and learning from other perspectives. And all of this with a relentless drive for excellence.

VU is a comprehensive university employing over 4,500 members of staff and having 30,000 students enrolled. The university is very well connected internationally and is known for the high quality of its research and -no surprise- for its high level of societal engagement. VU is housed on a city campus in Amsterdam’s business district, also featuring a nearby student campus.

VU distinguishes itself in research and teaching through four major themes reflecting its
strong level of involvement in current societal issues.

  • Governance for Society: Philosophers, economists, lawyers and psychologists join forces under this heading. The central question is to the effectiveness of our ways of governing society, and more specifically of our global surroundings. How can the way we manage and organize these contribute to a better society?
  • Human Health and Life Sciences: How do we become and how do we stay healthy? Contributors come from many disciplines: from physicists to doctors and from biologists to ethicists and human movement scientists
  • Connected World: A unique multidisciplinary association of VU researchers examines what it means to live in a world in which everything and everyone are connected. A question that affects us all and has far-reaching consequences for people
  • Science for Sustainability: VU integrates all disciplines that can help safeguard the well-being of the earth. From biology to economics and from social to natural sciences. A cross-pollination that seeks answers to the greatest questions of our time.

University Website: https://vu.nl/nl