Leiden University: Young social scientists network away during the Young Academic Lunch

Young Academy Leiden wants to bring together young academics. After all, it is not that easy in practice to meet peers outside your field. With inspiring and fun Faculty lunches, the organisation strives to connect young researchers. The most recent, hosted at the Faculty of Social and Behaviourial Sciences, was a success once again.

On Wednesday 20 April, some twenty researchers at the beginning of their career gather in a room at the Pieter de la Court Building. They are here for the Faculty lunch organised by Young Academy Leiden (YAL) and sponsored by the Faculty. The sandwiches are looking good and those present are already striking up conversations before the presentations even started.

The opportunities of interdisciplinary research
Annemarie Samuels, chair of YAL and anthropologist, welcomes the attendees and soon gives the floor to Anouk de Koning. Adhering to the theme of the lunch, ‘interdisciplinary research’, she talks about her research on social resilience for which she works together with the Faculty of Law and Hogeschool Inholland (among other institutions). ‘One of the things I like best is working with the social work lecturers of the Hogeschool. I can learn a lot from the practical way they see certain things.’

Next up is Wouter Veenendaal, who talks about his research on checks and balances. He conducts this research together with colleagues from the Faculties of Humanities and of Governance and Global Affairs. One of the biggest opportunities that interdisciplinary research offers, according to Veenendaal, is the fact that breaking disciplinary boundaries can generate new insights and ideas.


Keyword bingo breaks the ice
The second half of the lunch is more informal: it is time for bingo! The organisers have prepared a bingo card with keywords about the attendees’ research. Of course, the goal is not necessarily to cross off all boxes on the card, but rather to talk to people you don’t know yet. It doesn’t take long before people are mingling and the room is filled with the buzz of animated conversations.

Samuels calls the lunch a success afterwards. ‘The people present liked it a lot. They are a bit uncertain at first, but without something like a bingo you will end up only talking to people you already know.’

YAL strives to connect
Academics in this early phase of their career do not really have a space or way to come into (interdisciplinary) contact with each other. YAL is striving to facilitate that. It is important to meet colleagues from other institutes, says Samuels.

Tom Louwerse, one of the co-organisers, agrees: ‘Especially at the start of your career, that doesn’t happen that often. You are being absorbed by your institute and are not likely to join something like a Faculty committee during your first years.’ In any case, the Faculty lunches of YAL are a good way to get to know each other in an comfortable and accessible space, as this edition proves once again.

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