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Intensified cooperation to strengthen cross-fertilisation Leiden University and the Academy of Defence

Intensify cooperation between the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) and the Netherlands Defence Academy (NLDA). This is the purpose of the agreement that will be signed on 16 November at the Campus The Hague. On that day, Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld will also give a lecture in Wijnhaven on behalf of the Royal Association for the Practice of Martial Arts, the KVBK.

‘Two events that are being teamed', says extraordinary professor of War Studies Frans Osinga. For over a year and a half, the professor and officer in the Royal Netherlands Air Force now holds the chair at ISGA. One day a week Osinga works for Leiden University, the rest of the week he is head of the Department of War Studies at the FMW (Faculty of Military Sciences) in Breda.

Osinga's chair in Leiden is made possible by the KVBK. The KVBK and ISGA find each other because they take a multidisciplinary approach to safety and conflict. Osinga deals with themes such as developments in and debates about modern warfare, the challenges of peace operations and, for example, social and political perspectives on military violence. In his chair, he supervises PhD students, lectures on war and strategy and conducts his own research. The signing of a covenant between ISGA and NLDA will intensify cooperation between the two institutes.

Joint education and research programmes

‘We want to cooperate more intensively in various areas', explains Osinga. ‘The intention is that we will jointly set up education and research programmes and that we will jointly develop doctoral programmes. We are also looking into whether we can accommodate a number of additional chairs at ISGA that have a natural home there. I am talking, for example, about Military Intelligence Studies. For each theme, we will examine whether cooperation is logical and whether we can intensify it. We will also examine whether we can go to a graduate school together, a platform where you can offer courses together for your PhD students'. 

Osinga notices that the collaboration is beginning to bear fruit. ‘For example, during the lectures that are given. I recently invited Edwin Bakker (professor of terrorism and counterterrorism, ed.) to give a lecture on terrorism in my master's programme in Breda. There you can see that we can strengthen each other by exchanging experts'.  

Ideal variety

For Osinga, working at the two institutions is an ideal alternation. ‘At Leiden University, it's on a somewhat larger scale. In Wijnhaven, you're in front of an international audience, which has an entirely different dimension. In Breda, you have to deal with a boarding school system, a kind of University College. Every student sits there to eventually become an officer and they all have a specific profession-oriented motivation. In the minor at Leiden University, students often start with a blank sheet, which is an entirely different educational setting. That may be the only subject they take in my discipline and yet I have to try to teach them the essence of modern warfare in that short time. Extremely stimulating to do, I think'.

The cross-pollination, knowledge about the use of the cross power and the nature of contemporary conflicts, awareness of the complexity of missions and the possible interest in Defence among ISGA students, is what energizes Osinga. ‘Several people have already come to me with the question of how they can start working for the Ministry of Defence. Can I continue my studies? In the meantime, I have former bachelor's students from Leiden with my master's programme in Breda'.

Popular because of current events

According to the professor, the importance and popularity of War Studies is still growing. ‘Due to current events, war is not an abstract concept. Unfortunately, it is entirely contemporary when we look at the context in which we live now. Look at what is happening in Syria, in the Middle East, the changing balance of power around us, the assertive attitude of Russia, the rise of China. That is not new, but it is very pressing. You can see the enthusiasm of students to take these kinds of courses'. 

Minister Bijleveld sets great store by the professionalisation of military education. The fact that the signing of the cooperation covenant takes place in the presence of the minister makes Osinga proud. What could be nicer than to do that when she also gives a lecture and the event is organised by the KVBK. That's where you see the parties coming together'.

update 16/11: the event has been cancelled

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