17 May 2018

An interview with Prof. Wim Kremer about Dynamics of Youth

Dynamics of Youth: an interdisciplinary approach to youth issues

Utrecht University’s Dynamics of Youth (DOY) research theme aims to find the answers to questions that will be crucial to future generations. The DOY programme committee comprises representatives from all seven Utrecht University faculties. Vice Dean of Education Wim Kremer sits on the programme committee on behalf of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

Kremer: "Growing up, parenting and education are hot topics right now. The media coverage is relentless and the court of public opinion is demanding interventions and fast results. Although our children and adolescents generally do well, a lot does also seem to go wrong when growing up in our rapidly changing society." How should we interpret this and what can we do? This is what the strategic theme Dynamics of Youth is all about.

Utrecht University’s role

"In the Veterinary Medicine degree programme, we teach students to look at symptoms when tackling a problem and then to consider the problem carefully before arriving at an intervention based on an in-depth knowledge of various disciplines. In effect, the Dynamics of Youth research theme uses the same approach", Kremer says. "What issues are affecting young people? What does it mean? What factors play a role in these often complex problems? The strength of Dynamics of Youth’s researchers is that they develop a thorough understanding of the issues before deciding whether interventions are necessary, and if so, which ones."

Developing training programmes together may prove a jumping-off point for a closer collaboration in research matters.
Our aim is to unite parties and work with them to achieve new and occasionally unconventional solutions.

Care, parenting, life philosophies and education

Kremer is highly motivated to find new solutions together with others. "The strategic research theme Dynamics of Youth combines expertise in the areas of care, parenting, new technology and education, in addition to insights and knowledge obtained from the Faculty of Humanities and Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. Such interdisciplinary collaboration is not always easy. We are continuously looking for the best way forward. Exchanging ideas and elaborating an integrated approach based on different perspectives and backgrounds takes time. Dynamics of Youth facilitates these processes."

Naturally, Utrecht University does not do this on its own. A great advantage of the Dynamics of Youth platform is that it allows us to work closely with social partners at the regional, national and international level. Our aim is to unite parties and work with them to achieve new and occasionally unconventional solutions.

Onderzoekers in wei met koeien Diergeneeskunde
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine

Research

Researchers from the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine also participate in Dynamics of Youth. As an example, researcher Heidi Lesscher and her colleagues investigate addiction in both humans and animals. Kremer himself is a member of the programme committee and involved with the theme Learning to take the perspective of others in education, a new research project that unites researchers from various faculties to work on issues concerning segregation and polarisation in the classroom. "Young people live in separate worlds and are often unable or unwilling to take the perspective of others. This makes it difficult to discuss controversial issues in class. Pondering such issues together and learning to understand each other’s perspectives in order to work out a solution is at the heart of this project. Here too, the direct involvement of social partners is essential to this project and provides a great incentive to our researchers," Kremer states.

Foto: Ed van Rijswijk

Education

Kremer is also keen to get involved in joint education projects under the Dynamics of Youth umbrella: "It is essential that young researchers and professionals receive proper training regarding young people and youth issues. For our current students key elements of the programme are its interdisciplinary approach and multidisciplinary collaboration on issues that are relevant to society. Furthermore, developing training programmes together may prove a jumping-off point for a closer collaboration in research matters."

Dynamics of Youth

Tackling societal challenges in new, innovative and multidisciplinary ways and in close collaboration with social partners is the common factor in Utrecht University’s four strategic themes. Kremer: "I am thrilled to be able to contribute to this in my own modest way. It is a privilege to help address a question that will be crucial to future generations: how can we help our children develop into resourceful and resilient individuals who are capable of managing themselves successfully in a rapidly changing environment?"

 

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