Avans University of Applied Sciences stands at the very heart of society. Digitalisation, globalisation and the role of social media mean that we are subjected to a torrent of events both distant and local, and sometimes they can have a big impact. As a result, they are increasingly affecting our community. In all the tumult caused by political developments, wars and natural disasters, Avans wants to be an anchor point for all our students and staff. Irrespective of faith, political opinions, physical or mental disability, social and cultural background, sexual orientation or gender. We stand not in a hierarchy or in opposition to one another, but side by side.
Avans is in transition, just like the world around us. We are growing from being an educational institution into a knowledge-based institution. Our education and research places us at the very heart of society, with a focus that takes in global engagement, sustainability, diversity and inclusiveness. Through co-creation with the professional field, we are making an ever greater contribution to the challenges facing society, by devising solutions and training professionals who go out into the world with an open and broad perspective. Marked by the characteristic Avans values: ambitious, personal and socially engaged.
Adopting a position and responding
We see Avans operating within a complex playing field, including within it society and our own community, which are increasingly demanding that we adopt a position or respond to the events taking place regionally, nationally or on the world stage. As with last week’s election results. Some members of our community are calling for reflection on the result. Some our reacting out of a sense of insecurity. Some are silent. And some are exhilarated. Our community is diverse, which is reflected in a multiplicity of perspectives. That adds complexity to the situation, but at the same time those differences are what make our community.
Responding from a specific perspective can run counter to who we want to be as an organisation. A safe haven for everyone. A place in which diversity is embraced. That is reflected in our strategic vision, which will see us continue to stand for an open, diverse and inclusive community, with an outward-looking perspective. It is reflected in the design of our education and research and the way in which we seek outside collaborations. We will continue to encourage efforts at dialogue. As such, it is important to view the world with a broad and open perspective and to come into contact with other perspectives and circumstances.
We also understand the worries some of us have. There is a place for them within Avans. You should know that within our organisation you have opportunities to talk or report concerns to, for example, a student counsellor or confidential counsellor, not to mention the participation bodies within a school, service department or Avans-wide – and of course the Executive Board.
A sharper focus
Now, a week after the election results and as the dust gradually settles, we recognise that merely endeavouring to be the best organisation we can be will not always be enough. And that simply setting up processes and appointing officials will not meet the needs of the moment. Expressing a view also means standing up for the values that matter to Avans.
So we need to redouble our efforts to deliver our educational vision, with room for qualification and social and personal development. We will continue to strive to deliver the pedagogical task before us. That is not new, but in the context of the developments within society, we see it as ever more relevant. Together we need to utilise the space available to address ourselves to a world in transition and all the associated challenges. With our students, staff and partners. Not separately, or in any kind of hierarchical relationship. But side by side.