Over the past decades, the marketization and managerialization of higher learning across the Netherlands has resulted in continuous and seemingly interminable efforts to evaluate, restructure and re-invent university teaching and learning on all levels. This holds true for the humanities in particular where the new imperatives, effectivity, profitableness and utilitarian thinking, set out to threaten the very identity of the disciplines. Currently, there seems to be no shortage on market-based visions for the universities. Yet the fundamental question as to what both the scientific community and society at large envision for the future of the university and the humanities in particular seems to be unsatisfactorily addressed.

This series of lectures sets out to initiate a debate about the status, the value and the relevance of the humanities. It offers a platform to exchange views on what course the humanities could take, maintaining the best of its traditions while adapting to what are perceived as changing societal and scientific needs. In a Socratic dialogue we will be seeking how best to preserve this ‘endangered species’ in the academic field, enabling it to adapt to a new environment while strengthening the key characteristics that best guarantee its enduring survival.


9 March 17.00h, Maagdenhuis – Kati Röttger: The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

16 March 17.00h, Universiteitstheater – Rens Bod: Dreams of an Ideal University in Times of Crisis

23 March 17.00h, Universiteitstheater – Mieke Bal: Power to the Imagination – De verbeelding aan de macht

30 March 17.00h, Universiteitstheater – Ziggy Schilpzand (Humanities Rally)