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Note From the Editor: Why Aurora? What good does it do for the academics or students in our university?

VU International News and Reviews No. 101 November 20 2017

November 2017

This is a question that the champions of Aurora within the Aurora universities will get and often do get.

Here is an attempt to give an answer – inviting suggestions for better answers.

Universities – like any kind of organisation – need compelling stories that contain the shared values and beliefs of the people who form the university. A university itself is nothing but a story that exists for as long that the people who form it, believe in it. Academics generally identify more with their peers wherever they are; but where the majority of academics do not identify at all with their university, that is a vital weakness.

A university with a ‘living’ story – one that is endorsed by the majority of the academics, students, administrators and leaders in it – is stronger, more relevant, and more resilient than a university without such a story [or with a story that few actually believe].

Aurora helps to articulate and strengthen the basic story of e.g. the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The drive to match academic excellence with societal relevance is core to the vision and mission of VU as it is core to Aurora. It applies to research – seeking to contribute to the resolution of major societal problems; it applies to teach – seeking to help new generations to become responsible and contributing members of society, and it applies to outreach – always looking for ways in which researchers and students can engage with our community.

The choice of the core priorities in Aurora reflects this: *) Diversity & Inclusion in Education, *) Societal Impact & Relevance of Research, *) Innovation of Teaching & Learning, and Student Engagement.

If Aurora can make the VU-story stronger – because the Aurora story is basically the same, as are the stories of the other Aurora universities – then that stronger VU-story will in effect make VU itself stronger: a better place for students to study and a better place for academics to teach and to do research [and to let society profit from their expertise].

 

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