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New Year’s reception 2021: a memorable online event

The Faculty’s traditional New Year’s reception, like everything else these days, was transformed into an online event this year. Dean Paul Wouters as the host led us through the programme filled with the Casimir Teaching Award, the Pieter de la Court Medals, the Master’s Thesis Prizes, and a short lecture by our Diversity Officer. Paul also addressed us in a spoken New Year’s column.

Casimir Teaching Award

The Casimir Teaching Award is the annual award for the best teacher of our Faculty. The award is normally bestowed by a Faculty jury, based on nominations from each Institute. Kristiaan van der Heijden, Executive Director of Studies, explained: “But a couple of weeks ago, several Institutes pointed out that, this year, actually all the teachers of our Faculty deserve a teaching award. Teachers worked extremely hard, were very creative and innovative, dedicated, flexible and persistent. That’s why, this year, we want to grant the Casimir Teaching Award, symbolically, to all FSW teachers. But also to all support staff and students, because they also made enormous efforts. So, thank you to all of you!”

New Year’s spoken column

Dean Paul Wouters started with an applause for all. He greatly appreciates “your improvisational talents (abundantly shown both in teaching, research and operations in which we had to jump to a largely online and partly blended work and learning environment); your willingness to support each other and work together across boundaries of departments and institutes; your capacity to retain your focus on your long- and medium-term priorities in your research projects, learning goals and innovative teaching ambitions, even in the midst of a raging pandemic.”

Paul Wouters reminded us that “this year we will formulate our mission and strategy for the coming years (based on our work over the past two years). One of our goals is to develop a truly inclusive social science which builds on the knowledge and experience of all people and cultures. Not because it is fashionable, but because it is necessary and urgent to address and illuminate the current crisis in society. Such a social science can only be created by an inclusive community with a safe and sustainable academic and work culture. Hence, open collaboration for inclusive knowledge I see as our motto this year.”

Full text spoken column by Paul Wouters

Pieter de la Court Medals

Pieter de la Court Medals are awarded for an initiative by a student or group of students that, over the academic year 2019/2020, made a particular contribution to at least one of the Pieter de la Court themes: Diversity, Inclusivity, Entrepreneurship, World trade and Democratization. The prize is awarded by fellow students, so it is an initiative for students, by students.

Rebecca Talbot, chair of the jury, shared the jury’s deliberations and announced the winners: Bram Geurds and Klara Wiezcorke. “The jury were very impressed by Bram’s actions. He is the glue between politicians, political decision-making, and young people themselves. Politics is often considered an old, male-dominated profession, and Bram single-handedly disproves this statement. He is an inspiration for all young people and students to get involved and ensure their voices are heard. And to think outside the box to improve our society.” Bram made a video about his work. 

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Klara’s work also impressed the jury, and she too made a video. Rebecca Talbot: “we were very impressed with the effort put into this initiative and hope that it can help more students who are struggling with the effects of sexual violence on their lives. This initiative makes the university more inclusive and safer. Klara leads by example, showing what it means to be an academic community, and this makes her an inspiration for all. And therefore it is my honor to congratulate Klara, on behalf of the jury and secretary of the Pieter de la Court medal, on winning the medal for Inclusion and Entrepreneurship.”

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Full text award ceremony Pieter de la Court Medals

Short lecture by Aya Ezawa

The awarding of the Pieter de la Court medals are usually accompanied by a lecture to explore one or more of the Pieter de la Court themes. This year Aya Ezawa, Diversity Officer at Leiden University, talked about how the university works on diversity and inclusivity. “One of my tasks as Diversity Officer is to translate our ambitions to create a diverse and inclusive learning and working environment into action. It’s one thing to have this shared ideal, but quite another to actually make it happen. … So, what can we do? Inclusion is first and foremost a matter of approach: avoid taking yourself and your own experience for granted, and exercise openness and empathy in approaching others.  Recognize that you are not the best judge of what another person experiences or feels – there is much we can learn from each other.”

Full text lecture by Aya Ezawa

Master’s Thesis and Research Master’s Thesis Prizes

The chair of the jury, Philip Spinhoven, was pleased to note that “the four nominations for the Master’s Thesis Prize were all of high scientific quality and social relevance, while at the same time they were very different in terms of design and research methods. After some discussion of the ratings of the members of the jury, we unanimously decided in favour of the thesis nominated by the Institute of Psychology. The award-winning thesis, which was supervised by Dr. Anna van ‘t Veer, is entitled: “Data blinding in psychology: Introducing a tool and practical guidelines for common analyses” by Robert-Jan de Rooij.”

The jury also had to decide who would win the Research Master’s Thesis Prize. Philip Spinhoven explained how difficult this task was. “Being forced to make this choice was a kind of Solomon judgement, as both theses received almost identical scores for scientific quality, creativity in terms of research design and approach, relevance, and readability.” That is why they decided to put forward Florian Thomas-Odenthal’s thesis for the LUF Master’s Thesis Prize. This thesis, supervised by Dr. Marc Molendijk, is entitled: A healthy diet against depression: strong conclusions from weak evidence. A systematic review.”  The Faculty’s Research Master’s thesis prize went to Mirte Teunissen, supervised by Prof. Paul Vedder, for her thesis entitled: “A Multiple Perspectives Approach to Decision-Making in Foster Care Decision-making for Family Reunification in The Netherlands”.”

The winners were asked what their most memorable moment was during their thesis research… but here the technology let us down. But in a subsequent email, the winners enthusiastically replied. Luckily there is always a way to get answers from all prize winners, even when connections freeze during a live event!

Full text Master's Thesis and Research Master's Thesis Prizes

Robert-Jan de Rooij: "My most memorable moments were the hour-long meetings on MS teams that I had with my supervisor Anna van 't Veer. Since the thesis started right before the first corona lockdown, Anna and I only had one face-to-face meeting in which we decided on the topic, but not much else. After that, all supervision occurred online. Data blinding is a relatively new topic within psychology and working from home reduced the number of people that I could talk to about the thesis topic to nearly zero. Having someone to discuss ideas with that was equally, or more, enthousiastic about the topic was both fun nd invaluable. We had so many chats figuring out how we could make data blinding easy to understand and (maybe more importantly) implement because applying data blinding to the analysis proces can make such a big impact with little effort. Finally, I'm glad that data blinding got some exposure and I would be in remiss if I did not to mention that data blinding is not limited to psychology and can be used in combination with pre-registration. It's great to see that the faculty thesis award commission recognized the potential benefits of data blinding, not only for psychology but for social sciences in general."

Mirte Teunissen: "The data-collection was a memorable experience as a whole: being in contact with both foster care workers and family judges made me very excited. Especially since I knew I would share their valuable knowledge with more people who are working in this broad field. The experience of data-collection emphasized my aspiration to connect research and practice in my thesis and in my future career."

Florian Thomas-Odenthal: “The most memorable moment was when I went to Pamplona, Spain, with my supervisor Marc Molendijk to give a presentation about our research project at the clinic for psychiatry. It was the first time I had given a presentation in front of professionals. It was such a cool experience because Marc and I gave this presentation in an alternating manner: Marc explained a few slides, then I did, and so on. We had to practice it a few of times beforehand, but it worked out very well and the audience liked it. Besides that we had good weather and great Spanish wine and food (with lots of healthy olive oil!). It was a nice working holiday.” 

A toast to the New Year

"Happy New Year!”

The online New Year’s reception concluded with a toast and a wish from Paul Wouters. “My wish for all of us to is that we keep on learning new things, work together as much as we can, and stay inspired!"

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