Prof. Dr. Bert van den Brink – Opening Keynote – Thursday

Prof. Dr. Bert van den Brink is a professor of Political and Social Philosophy at Utrecht University, and Dean of University College Roosevelt in Middelburg, The Netherlands. His teaching and research focus on the political legitimacy of democratic decisions, on moral aspects of social relations and institutions, and on the status of liberal values in intercultural relations.

The opening keynote of LESC 2018 will discuss the civic dimension of Liberal Education and the (underlying) assumptions one can have on that topic. What is the relationship between Liberal Education and society? Should a Liberal Education programme always be in service of societal needs? These and more questions will be discussed in Bert van den Brink’s opening keynote.


Prof. Dr. Iris van der Tuin – Response Opening Keynote – Thursday

Prof. Dr. Iris van der Tuin is professor in Theory of Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University. She is also director of the School of Liberal Arts and program director of the interdisciplinary bachelor programme Liberal Arts and Sciences. Trained as a feminist epistemologist and working as an interdisciplinarian, she is specialized in gender studies and new materialisms (especially pertaining to humanities scholarship that traverses ‘the two cultures’).

Iris van der Tuin will respond to Bert van den Brink’s keynote and hereby form a basis for discussion on our own Liberal Education.


TED-talk Keynotes + Panel – Friday

f.rt.l : James, Ria, Volker

During the TED-talks the speakers Prof. Dr. James Kennedy, Dr. Ria van der Lecq and Dr. Volker Balli will all speak 20 minutes each on the development of European Liberal Education.

Prof. Dr. James Kennedy is the head of University College Utrecht and grew up in the United States. He will speak about the development of European Liberal Education in comparison to the American Liberal Education. His experience with both systems gives him uniquely qualified to make an informed comparison between the two continents.

Dr. Ria van der Lecq was the founder of the first Liberal Arts and Sciences degree programme in the Netherlands at Utrecht University in 2003. As an expert in ancient and medieval liberal education, she can give us great insights on the historical roots of this concept and its application in The Netherlands.

Dr. Volker Balli is the Academic Director of Studium Individuale at the Leuphana University of Lüneburg. He is also heading the Strategic Partnership CREATES and was part of the first edition of LESC. His talk will focus on the three issues that were, to his mind, central in the emergence of LAS programmes in Europe. He will outline why they were crucial starting points for our movement, how they have been addressed in our programmes and institutions so far and what might be next steps (and a necessary rethinking) to make these concepts “fit for the future.”

After the three talks there is the opportunity to and to engage in a panel discussion with the speakers. This could for example be about the future of Liberal Education and the suggestions for improvement or the role of Liberal Education in society.


Daniel Kontowski Open Space Keynote – Saturday

Daniel Kontowski is a PhD student at Winchester University researching the values of liberal educators, and a founding member of the European Liberal Arts Initiative. In his keynote, Kontowski will discuss the social role of Liberal Education by bringing in institutional data and interview data. Specifically, he will focus on dissimilarities from the Dutch Liberal Education context. After speaking on this topic, Kontowski’s talk will lead us into the Open Space on Saturday, where we will compile two lists; one comprising current positive aspects of Liberal Education, one listing possibilities for improvement.


Prof. Teun Dekker – Concluding Keynote – Sunday

Prof. Teun Dekker is the Vice Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences Education at Maastricht University College. After making an appearance at the first two editions of LESC, he will once again delight us with his presence on Sunday. Dekker’s keynote will look back on the conference in general, before leading us into a discussion on what we’ve learned during the weekend and the two lists which we’ll create on Saturday.