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VTS & de twee verhuizende zusters: Over meningen en feiten in de rechtszaal *

How best to deal with complex situations? Close observation, critical thinking, and presenting a well-argued point of view are skills that you can use to good effect throughout your life. The series of four Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) seminars offered by Academic Forum enable you to practice these skills. On April 26, the perspective is that of law. In this second seminar of four, the focus is on the role of opinions and facts in the courtroom, with the aim of reducing tunnel vision and bias among (future) lawyers and judges. (language: Dutch)

Program information

Date March 20, April 26, May 24, June 26
Language Language: English (with exception of April 26 - language: Dutch)
Time See 'Seminars' (text below)
Location See 'Seminars' (text below)
Registration Free, you can register by filling out the registration form. You can participate in the entire training, but also in individual meetings.
Speakers Janneke van Leeuwen, Maria IJzermans, Hans van Dijk, Josette Jacobs
Contact Ingemarie Sam
Organisation Academic Forum (Tilburg University)
*Certificate This activity may count towards the Academic Forum Certificate. Note: the entire training is considered as one meeting (the condition is to follow at least three of the four training sessions).

(Note: the language is Dutch on April 26)

In a series of four seminars, students and others who are interested are offered a program that teaches you to get a better understanding of and learn to appreciate the way others view the world, and to improve your ability to put things into words. Each of the sessions centers on one of the scientific fields studied at our university. On April 26, the perspective is that of law. In this seminar, the focus is on the role of opinions and facts in the courtroom, with the aim of reducing tunnel vision and bias among (future) lawyers and judges. Speakers in this session are Maria IJzermans, Assistant Professor at Tilburg Law School, and Adelijn van Huis, senior VTS-coach at VTS Netherlands.

What is important in the distinction between facts and opinions is that facts can be proven and opinions need to be backed up by arguments. But what makes something a fact, and what makes it an opinion?  Not too long ago, we would have said that a fact is something you can observe, while an opinion is a view that can be challenged. But if Trump says that at his inauguration there were more people than ever, is this a fact or an opinion? That is why it is necessary to develop a critical attitude with respect to everything that is presented as certain. This will be made clear using a well-known case. It is the case of the ‘two sisters moving house.’ The case will be analyzed and as the analysis proceeds it will become clear that from a legal perspective there is not much knowledge that can be designated as factual. Using the method of Virtual Thinking Strategies (VTS), we subsequently learn to be aware of this and to keep it in mind in dealing with things.   

Why Visual Thinking Strategies? >>

Through Academic Forum, Tilburg University is the first Dutch university to offer VTS to all of its students. VTS enables you to:

  • strengthen your empathic response to others, and visit each other’s world;
  • argue on the basis of factual evidence and exuding self-confidence;
  • see connections and distinguish details in complex information;
  • think speculatively and recognize multiple possibilities;
  • reconsider or expand your view on the basis of arguments;
  • be more patient, take more time to contemplate and analyze, and reserve judgment.

Seminars spring 2018 >>

Each of the scheduled seminars focuses on a particular discipline: psychology, law, sociology, or philosophy. You can participate in the entire training, but also in individual seminars.

  • VTS & Your Brain: The thinking eye and the social brain (English spoken)
    Janneke van Leeuwen (PhD at UCL Institute of Neurology, London)
    Tuesday, March 20, 12:45-14:30, Black Box (Esplanade Building)

  • VTS in de rechtszaal: het onderscheid tussen feiten en meningen bij het argumenteren (Dutch spoken)
    Maria IJzermans (Assistant Professor at Tilburg Law School)
    Thursday, April 26, 14:45-16:30, Black Box (Esplanade Building)

  • Diversity and Orange Juice: How to Look beyond Stereotypes and to Understand Differences between People by Looking Closely (English spoken)
    Hans van Dijk (Assistant Professor TSB)
    Thursday, May 24, 10:45-12:30, WZ 104 (Warande Building)

  • VTS & Gadamer’s philosophy: “All Scientists Are Frauds” (English spoken)
    Josette Jacobs (Assistant Professor at Wageningen University)
    Tuesday, June 26, 12:45-14:30, Black Box (Esplanade Building)

How does VTS work? >>

In small groups you look at a work of art. What do you see? And what does the person next to you see? The trainer ensures that all participants are able to express their personal views and associations. You look for yourself and through the eyes of the others. In this way you learn that your vision has merit, as does that of another person. And that we all look at art engaging our own brain dynamics – as we do when we look at a patient, a court case or a business. By watching closely, calmly and together you see more.

Research >>

In the US, the VTS program has been running for more than 25 years and has been extensively researched. It is currently used by 60 US medical schools and it is compulsory for Yale and Harvard students. In Ireland the VTS program is used to teach medical students to observe patients and diagnose conditions.

More about VTS >>

The Visual Thinking Strategies concept was developed in the 1990s by Philip Yenawine, former Education Director at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and Abigail Housen, a Harvard graduate and cognitive psychologist. The concept was triggered by the observation that while visitors to the museum thoroughly enjoyed their visit, they would retain virtually nothing of the information offered during the guided tour. At the heart of VTS is the innovative methodology Housen developed to measure esthetic growth and transpose the findings to education, and over the past ten years research and practical experience have contributed to sophisticating the methodology. In the US, VTS has been successfully used for many years at schools, universities, and in museums. Some Dutch schools have also started using VTS, and for the past eighteen months training at a number of medical schools, including those of Erasmus University Rotterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen, has included a method for improving analysis and diagnosis through using visual arts.


This training is an Academic Forum initiative of Tilburg University.

When: 26 April 2018 14:45

End date: 26 April 2018 16:30