CCAN's Classy Salon: Professor Emerita Geraldine Van Bueren on Poverty, Human Rights, and University Diversity Policies

In this special edition of our Classy Symposium, we enjoyed a talk by Professor Emerita Geraldine Van Bueren, and a panel discussion with several prominent UU researchers and policy makers on class representation in universities. Afterwards, we met fellow first-generation and working class academics with whom we continued the discussions from the panel over some drinks.

In the talk, Professor Emerita Geraldine Van Bueren talked about her research on the acknowledgement of poverty as a form of discrimination in human rights law and the role of class in university diversity policy. She is a renowned legal scholar and barrister, who is known for, amongst other things, her work as one of the original drafters of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and her research on the status of poverty in human rights law. More recently, as Chair of the international Alliance of Working-Class Academics, an organisation for the advancement of people from lower socio-economic status backgrounds in academia, she has composed a ‘Code for Equal Opportunities for Working-Class Students and Academics’ concerning the integration of class concerns in university’s diversity policies alongside e.g. gender and ethnicity, as this is often imperfect or even missing altogether.

After Van Bueren's talk, there was plenty to discuss in the panel, in which a lot of her points were applied to UU's diversity policy by several prominent UU researchers and policy makers. For example, we talked about the difficulty of defining class, the legal constraints of affirmative action and the concrete steps to increase class participation in academia. 

The panelists included:

  • Prof. Dr. Leoniek Wijngaards (professor in Data Use for innovation in Higher Education, Vice Dean of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, and a member of the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion [EDI] Steering Committee, UU). Wijngaards' research focuses on academic enrollment, achievement, and diversity in higher education.
  • Dr. Jos Philips (assistant professor in Political Philosophy and Ethics at the Ethics Institute , and coordinator of Master Applied Ethics, UU). Philips' research focuses on human rights and poverty as issues of global justice.
  • Dr. Mr. Alexandra Timmer (associate professor in Human Rights Law at the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights [SIM] external link, and a Steering Committee member of the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Office [EDI], UU). Timmer's research focuses on equality and non-discrimination in EU law, the ECHR, and international human rights treaties. 

Both the lecture and the panel left us with plenty to discuss, as always over some drinks. For this special occasion, we also prepared some small quiz and discussion questions comparing the ratio of people with to those without college degrees in the House of Representatives and at Utrecht University. 

If you missed the the lecture or simply want to re-watch it, you can find the recording here: