Two new Senior Fellows, Centre for Academic Teaching and Learning appointed

As of 1 September 2023, two new Senior Fellows will be appointed by the Executive Board: Dr. Liesbeth Bijlsma (faculty of Science) and Dr. Sebastiaan Steenman (faculty of Law, Economics and Governance).

During their Senior Fellowship, they work on a faculty and/or university-wide project to further improve education, dedicate themselves to teacher development and deepen their knowledge in the field of educational science. In doing so, they contribute to contextual knowledge of higher education. Successful completion of the programme will culminate in a nomination for a position as full professor with a special emphasis on education. A further introduction of our new Senior Fellows follows below.

Dr. Liesbeth Bijlsma

Dr. Liesbeth Bijlsma (faculty of Science)

Liesbeth is a highly motivated and enthusiastic candidate for the programme. She already showed great talent as an informal leader in educational renewal and innovation. Liesbeth has set up the COPTER network (Centre of Pharmaceutical Teaching and Educational Research), a network which bundles teaching and learning activities within her department and functions as a support system for teachers who wants to be(come) active in evidence-informed educational innovation. Her initiative already gets attention from several other departments/faculties. She is an inspiring role model to students as well as her peers. She brings her broad experience with innovation of education to the programme, which makes her a good sparring partner for the other fellows.

With her project ‘Scaling-up inquiry-based learning (IBL), she aims to implement IBL in large knowledge-driven curricula to support students in the development of critical thinking skills, which will help them to make evidence-informed (clinical) choices in their later professional roles. The project links well to the strategic goals of Utrecht University and can be useful to other parts of the university, especially to programmes that tie strongly to academic professional roles.

I believe we have the responsibility to provide excellent education to all our students, irrespective of the size of the programme they’re enrolled in. Therefore, my goal is to implement IBL specifically within larger programmes to better support those students in the development of their critical thinking skills.

Dr. Sebastiaan Steenman

Dr. Sebastiaan Steenman (faculty of Law, Economics and Governance)

Sebastiaan is already operating on university wide and national level. His expertise in selective admission to higher education is nationally recognized. Sebastiaan already has quite some advanced leadership experience, as a Director of Education, responsible for all Bachelor, Master and Executive masters’ programmes of his department and leading several projects on educational innovation, most recently with the implementation of the REBO Skills Academy. He combines scholarly work with a strong focus on impact. Sebastiaan brings valuable expertise to the Senior Fellow Programme with his scholarly approach to teaching and his background in  public administration. In his opinion, Senior Fellows fulfil a role as the educational conscience of the university, fueling discussions about where we are going as a university and he would very much like to contribute to that.

His project aims for building a Utrecht University Skills Academy. Sebastiaan is highly motivated and ambitious to move the REBO Skills Academy to the next level university wide, starting from second year bachelors’ students, to lifelong learners. The Skills Academy aims at developing interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary skills beyond the standard set that is intrinsically linked to a particular degree programme. Sebastiaan hopes to work on that with a core team of (mostly) teachers from different faculties, where people who have different perspectives, styles and approaches, but do buy in to the general idea of using skills as a tool in university educations. The project Sebastiaan has proposed aligns well with the university’s strategic goals and can be beneficial to the university.

My aim is to use skills development as a means to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary development for contributing to solving the large challenges that society faces.

More about the Senior Fellow Programme

With the Senior Fellow Programme Utrecht University aims to strengthen educational leadership within the Utrecht University by increasing the number of professor with emphasis on education. The programme contributes to the visible appreciation for education and teaching and shows career steps in education are possible and is therefore a couple of years ahead of TRIPLE, in which we recognise and value the full scope of academic work. The programme also aims to promote innovation in teaching and learning and to increase the overall quality of education.

The programme is renewed in 2017 and renamed in Senior Fellow Programme (formerly Teaching Fellow Programme). With these two new appointments, 21 Senior Fellows have been admitted to the Programme since 2017. Teaching staff can only be nominated by the dean of their faculty. The Executive Board has appointed an international selection committee to advise on the appointments.

More information about the Senior Fellow Programme and the other fellows can be found on the website of the Centre for Academic Teaching and Learning. With questions, please contact Mirjam Bok, managing director CAT.