Academic flights

A number of university staff signed a letter earlier this month appealing to universities to adopt a more ambitious climate policy. One of the means mentioned in the letter is cutting down on the number of air miles flown by academics. Relevant, I think. Yet they don’t mention another important group of academic air travellers:…

It starts during our Bachelor’s degree, with the mass migration called Erasmus. Super-formative, of course, to study in a new social setting. And we’re not the only ones who get to know the exchange city. There are always budget airlines that fly there, so at weekends we get our parents, friends, housemates and fellow students to visit us. So much for the new social setting.

Later, on our Master’s, we discover that the thesis options in some chair groups look like the window of a travel agent. All worthy projects, no doubt. But let’s be honest, we look primarily for a nice destination. And if that turns out not to be so handy for producing a good thesis, it cannot be because in the planning stage we put more effort into booking our tickets than to writing our research proposal.

OK, I’m parodying it now, and that doesn’t do justice to the undeniable benefits of overseas experience. But still, when we graduate we are a bit like the green beans in the supermarkets at this time of year: with a lot more air miles behind us that you might think at first glance. And air miles of questionable value in some cases. 

Vincent Oostvogels (22) is exploring the delicate interface between nature management and food production through his two Master’s programmes, Forest and Nature Conservation and Animal Sciences


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