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 Next steps for UCR

Next steps for University College Roosevelt

Middelburg, April 29, 2019  

As all good things in life, University College Roosevelt is developing. It is the same small-scale and intensive Liberal Arts and Sciences College that it has always been. Graduates are as successful in finding master programs and building successful professional careers as they ever were. Students and faculty come to UCR for community-based and societally connected learning, high quality dedicated faculty, the wealth of academic disciplines and the academic excellence, personal growth, and education for citizenship that the college is known and loved for. All that is and will remain at the heart of our approach to the Liberal Arts and Sciences. At the same time, responding to the needs of students, faculty and society, we are launching a reorientation of some of the core aspects of who we are.

Firm commitment to the disciplines

UCR remains a disciplines-based college. We firmly believe in the power of multi- and interdisciplinary approaches to societal and scientific challenges. We also believe that without a firm basis in the disciplines, anything that transcends them is pointless. From philosophy to applied physics, and from premed to anthropology: we offer over 30 academic disciplines, and our students seek depth in at least two and often more of those.

Thematic fields

At the same time, we see the need to explain the power of these disciplines and their interconnections. UCR is building a unique integration of humanities, social science, science, and engineering in one college. Six thematic fields will help bring out important interconnections between them.

Four of these themes have always been much loved by UCR faculty and students: Human Rights, Politics, and Economics; Arts, History and Culture; Mind and Behavior; Global Health. Two further thematic fields concern exciting new expertise that we are currently investing in: Sustainability: Governance and Technology; Data in Science and Society.

Many of our alumni work in one of these six themes. They flourish in masters programs and in professional life exactly because they have learnt to bring insights from several specialized disciplines to greater scientific and societal challenges. By articulating core themes, we stress that ability in our students and faculty. It helps us explain to future students who we are and what we do.

Introducing Engineering within Liberal Arts

UCR’s upcoming offerings in Engineering are born from the conviction that in order to prepare for participation in today’s world, Liberal Arts and Sciences students need to be enabled to familiarize themselves with technological aspects of human life. We consider this a next step in Liberal Arts and Sciences education, and are proud to take next steps in the movement that rather builds bridges between than separates academic fields of knowledge. The integration of Arts, Social Science and Sciences — now strengthened by a focus on technology — has always been characteristic of our college. By working on questions of sustainability and data regarding water, energy transition, and bio-based materials, we add a focus on global challenges that can be studied in the Zeeland Delta. There are as much technological aspects to this as economic, ethical and historical: new frontiers for the Liberal Arts and Sciences.        

More individual choice for our students

UCR currently requires all students to take two language courses. A considerable number of members of our diverse and international student body master several languages already and do not seek further education in languages. That is why we will no longer require them to take such courses. For those students who do want to study languages, we will continue to offer Dutch, French and German – the languages closest to our academic tradition. We will phase out our offering in Spanish language courses and regret the loss of 3.1fte positions in languages. All sitting students will be able to complete courses in Spanish if they want to. For future generations of students, Spanish and other world languages can be taken as off campus options through our rich worldwide exchange network.

Finally, part of our more advanced teaching in academic writing will be integrated in the disciplinary tracks. By means of a ‘Writing and Skills Center’, UCR will offer more tailor-made solutions to skills learning for our students.

Academic Core

UCR has always been known for its strong academic core program, which offers courses in Rhetoric, Writing and Presenting, Methods and Statistics, and Languages and Culture. We see a trend towards a greater integration of academic skills in courses taught in the major departments. And we applaud that trend, for style, method and academic substance eventually have to be integrated in academic work. In order to further enable that trend we will no longer have a separate academic core department. This is the same move that our sister college, University College Utrecht, successfully made years ago.

The market of higher education

The market of higher education in the Netherlands is changing. There are many more English-taught Liberal Arts and Sciences programs and other broad bachelor programs than there were during UCRs early years. Over the last five years, a body of 500 students, or an intake of 170-180 students per year, has turned out to be a good student intake for UCR to aim at in the selection procedure. From there, with the help of internal and external investments in Engineering, we expect to grow to ca. 750 students in 2024, and be able to create 8fte in permanent positions until 2024.

Summing up

UCR has always been at the forefront of Liberal Arts and Sciences Education in Europe. By thinking more thematically, by adding exciting new courses in engineering and technology, and by offering more tailor-made solutions to language and skills teaching, UCR proudly adds to the vibrant and developing tradition of European Liberal Arts and Sciences that it has helped build.