Dies Natalis 2023 ‘Yearning for a time when the seas were still clean’

Student editor Felix Landsman reviews the university’s birthday party for Resource.
Dies Natalis 2023. Photo Willem Andrée

Text Felix Landsman

The 2023 Dies Natalis: ‘Blue Transitions, Shaping Sustainable Marine Futures’. In addition to the fact that WUR has been named the best university for eighteen consecutive years, it should also be awarded a prize for the most buzzwords used in a single slogan.

As soon as the academic procession, a group of some 80 professors in robes entered, it became clear to whom the ‘sustainable marine futures’ have been entrusted. The women in the procession were fewer than ten, and there were fewer than five professors of colour.

The keynote speaker was Swedish sustainability ecologist Beatrice Crona. Although her work as a researcher is far from mediocre, dressed in a black general’s coat, she left no doubt about whose desire is to be the command of the great blue yonder. The ‘ocean space’ is to be developed, the sea is our ‘natural capital’ and, like diving tourism and the hotel industry, the ‘biosphere’ is a sector like any other.

The ‘biosphere’ is a sector like any other

After half an hour, the scientific content was interrupted by a performance delivered by the Wageningen a capella choir Vocal Group Twelve. As far as I’m concerned, these seven sirens should have recorded the full soundtrack of Avatar 2: The way of water. Against a backdrop of beautiful ocean images, they created an atmosphere that scientific contributions failed to surpass. In the face of their potential to overshadow the scientists, they were rapidly escorted off the stage with a quick thank you amidst thunderous applause.  

After the musical interlude, the much-needed diversity points were scored with two inspiring ‘young scientists’. The term ‘young’, as used by rector Arthur Mol is, of course, relative. Both researchers could almost have been my parents. The inspiring words delivered by Ukrainian Maryna Strokal, and the almost poetic address by Kenyan Joshua Wambugu, left the audience yearning for the days when the seas were still clean. The audience was left feeling confident that, as long as these young heroes fight at the frontlines of the Blue Transitions, the shaping of Sustainable Marine Futures may even be achieved.

Also read:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to write a comment.