Academic Day: Prof. Dr. Gabriel van den Brink, Prof. Dr. Govert Buijs, and Other Academics and Writers on Civilization

August 16, 2019

Friday August 16 we organized our annual Academic Day in Utrecht’s Grand Hotel Karel V, on the topic “Civilization”. You may find an extensive report of the discussion in this PDF.

The meeting consisted of three different panels. The first panel revolved around the question of what civilization actually is. The history of the concept of civilization was discussed, the foundations of different civilizations, their development, their similarities and differences. There was also discussion about the current state of our civilization. Are civilizational ideals still propagated enough in the public space? And is there still sufficient attention for community spirit in our modern, free society?

The second panel elaborated on the relationship between Western civilization and Christianity. The subject of discussion was the thesis that Christianity is essentially an anti-imperialist and egalitarian religion, and thus the precursor of modern civic and democratic movements. Much attention was paid to the development of civil society in the early modern period, and the question of whether it should be attributed to Christian inspiration or to classical and secular sources.

Both topics were discussed again (in each other’s light) in the last panel. There was ample attention for values that play a less central role in modern civilization, such as loyalty and a sense of community. Should we see the relatively minor role of these values as a loss or as a blessing? And if we want a stronger community spirit, how could we achieve this without collective coercion? Here a major role was seen for civil society.

Among the academics and writers who attended the Academic Day were:

Machteld Allan (Lecturer, Leiden University)

Dr. Frits Bolkestein (Former leader Dutch Liberal Party)

Daniël Boomsma (Researcher, Van Mierlo Foundation)

Daniëlla Brals (PhD student, Amsterdam University)

Prof. Dr. Govert Buijs (Professor, Free University of Amsterdam)

Dr. Emma Cohen de Lara (Lecturer, Amsterdam University College)

Bart Jan Heine (Lecturer, Thorbecke College)

Dr. Eric C. Hendriks (Lecturer, University of Bonn)

Willem Jan Hilderink (Freelance writer)

Steije Hofhuis (Lecturer, Utrecht University)

Dr. Frans Willem Lantink (Lecturer, Utrecht University)

Dr. Emilie Noteboom (Freelance writer)

Dr. Patrick Overeem (Lecturer, Free University of Amsterdam)

Dr. Melvin Schut (Lecturer, Amsterdam University College)

Prof. Dr. Gabriël van den Brink (Professor, Free University of Amsterdam)

Thomas van den Brink (TU Delft)

Dr. Christiaan van der Kwaak (Lecturer, Groningen University)

Lodewijk van der Meer (Master student, Leiden University)

Gerard Versluis (Lecturer, Leiden University)

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