Digital Society Policy Adviser
Anno Bunnik (b. 1982) is Digital Society Policy Adviser. This joint programme of the Dutch universities intends to create a new and appealing international profile for the Netherlands as a pioneer in the field of human-centred information technology. Our country can transform itself into a living ‘testing grounds’, enabling a rapid exploration of how we can optimally tailor new technology to suit the needs of individuals and society as a whole. Research plays a key role in this respect. A delta plan of this type for the new ‘digital society’ will give the Netherlands major social, scientific and economic opportunities.
Anno is a PhD researcher at the University of Groningen, where he studies the influence of Big Data and digitalisation on law enforcement agencies, and is co-author of Big Data Challenges (Palgrave Macmillan 2016). He has experience in innovation in education through delivering simulations for universities, ministries and the Royal Military Academy as a training and educational tool. He has also designed and delivered advanced courses at University College Utrecht and Liverpool Hope University. He is a graduate from Utrecht University and King’s College London.
Jacha van Hoorn
Digital Society Programme Manager
Jascha van Hoorn (b. 1977) started as Digital Society Programme Manager at VSNU in November 2017. The Dutch universities promote this programme to ensure that the Netherlands can take the lead in digital transformation. Key instruments used are knowledge development, knowledge sharing and knowledge application. In this programme, researchers oriented towards data and people are maintaining an intensive collaboration across various universities on using digital means to help solve complex social issues. The universities themselves also aim to accelerate educational innovation.
Jascha trained as a sociologist at Utrecht University. Her interests range from complex collaborations and social complexity to innovation. Prior to her present position at VSNU, Jascha worked as Director of Stichting Studielink on the digitisation of educational logistics processes. In the past, she acted as interim manager or staff member at various organisations with the general aim of setting up and managing projects and programmes to do with innovation and impact.
Acceleration Agenda Policy Adviser
Ulrike Wild has been employed at VSNU for two days a week since 1 April 2018. In addition, she holds a position as Director of the Open&Online Education programme at Wageningen University & Research.
On behalf of VSNU, Ulrike engages in the Acceleration Agenda for Innovation in Education, a joint programme of the Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU), the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen) and SURF. This acceleration agenda focuses on deploying digitisation in higher education to improve alignment with the job market, make teaching more flexible, and enable smarter and better learning with technology.
During the past period, Ulrike handled educational innovation at Wageningen University & Research, where she had a shared responsibility for the strategy on open and online education as well as its project-based translation. In addition, she was temporarily involved in a project on the ‘exchange and reuse of teaching materials’ at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap, OCW).
Research & Valorisation Domain Manager
Wouter Feldberg (b. 1974) works as Research & Valorisation Domain Manager. His responsibilities include acting as the secretary of the Research & Valorisation Steering Group and chairing the team tasked with consultancy on general research policy. Example policy issues are the impact of Dutch science on society, research funding, top sectors, open access, research integrity, animal experiments and research quality assurance. When it comes to research policy, Wouter serves as a point of contact for OCW, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), the Confederation of Netherlands Industry and Employers (VNO-NCW) and other research organisations.
The preparation of the National Science Agenda, as announced in the Vision for Science, and its effects on the organisation of NWO will require many efforts in the year ahead. This domain also comprises the international dossiers of the Horizon2020 research programme.
Having studied history at VU Amsterdam, Wouter spent the past nine years as Senior Policy Adviser on Internationalisation, Research and Regional Development at the Academic Affairs Office of Utrecht University. Last year, he was seconded to the Economic Board Utrecht on a part-time basis. He was previously employed at the International Institute for Asian Studies of Leiden University as a Programme Coordinator.
Head of Communications and Public Affairs
Patricia Heerekop (b. 1971) is VSNU’s Head of Communications and Public Affairs. Patricia’s objective is to help bolster the academic support base. Her stakeholders range from politicians to the general public and the resources that she employs are diverse. Recent activities included organising the Twitter debate on knowledge and innovation which saw VSNU share the soapbox with the Dutch Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MKB-Nederland), VNO-NCW, TNO, KNAW, NWO and the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences. This debate turned into a trending topic on Twitter. The importance of research was personally advocated by politicians, CEOs, representatives of advisory bodies and famous scientists. When the Members of the Lower House checked their pigeonholes the following day, they found a newspaper with background information and summaries. Patricia also engages in other initiatives surrounding the Sector Annual Report of the Dutch Universities and the development of the VSNU fact sheets (A4 sheets outlining the Dutch universities’ stance on issues). These fact sheets contain bite-sized information for politicians and journalists.
Patricia studied design and communication at the Ichthus University of Applied Sciences in Rotterdam, and holds additional professional diplomas in senior communications advisement. Previously, she developed public campaigns at an advertising agency. She was also active as a Communications Adviser at the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Justice and the National Innovation Forum. At the moment, Patricia is taking a Master’s in Corporate Communications at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
Her role at VSNU is to stimulate collaborations and contacts between people. For example, she ensures structural communication between academics and Parliamentary Committees through the Parliament and Science project, which includes breakfast meetings among other things. Patricia: ‘This project allows scientists to share their knowledge with politicians and show them the relevance of their research. Conversely, politicians can enhance their contribution to the debate by using academic insights. It is a win-win situation. My drive is to discover and realise such opportunities for collaboration. In this way, science is awarded its rightful position and prominence.’
Suzanne (b. 1989) acts as Communication Specialist to ensure that VSNU’s work is visible, accessible and attractive to its target groups in order to raise support for its lobbying and programmes. To this end, she takes the initiative to arrange discussions or brainstorming sessions with policy staff on policy objectives and the advantages of communication in this regard. By subsequently translating this information into an action plan, Suzanne designs and directs the implementation of what to communicate when and how.
Following up on her Bachelor’s in European Studies at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and her Pre-Master’s in Public Administration at Leiden University, she obtained her Master’s in Crisis and Security Management at the latter institution in 2013. Suzanne was previously employed at PR and communications consultancy Smith Communicatie, where she took care of public relations and communications for multiple clients in addition to the organisation of events.
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