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Interdisciplinarity theme Tilburg University 91st anniversary

Published: 01st March 2019 Last updated: 01st March 2019

This year's theme was interdisciplinarity. Two honorary doctorates were awarded to Nobel Prize Winner Prof. Lars Peter Hansen (University of Chicago, Chicago) and Prof. Julia Hirschberg (Columbia University, New York). The PhD Thesis Award was bestowed upon dr. Michèle Nuijten.

Interdiscipliarity cannot be realised without collaboration, Rector Magnificus Emile Aarts said in his opening speech. But collaboration ‘in itself means much more than simply getting together and then doing your own thing, albeit as part of a team. Collaboration in this sense is all about understanding, appreciating and valuing. It’s about an ability to look at things from someone else’s perspective and to set aside the traditions, customs and experiences that together form your own operating framework, and instead to transport your own expertise to an entirely new setting. This requires new working methods and new grant instruments for encouraging interdisciplinary projects.’

PhD Thesis Award and Honorary Awards

After presentations by Prof. Ton Wilthagen and Prof. Erik Borgman the PhD Thesis Award was awarded to dr. Michelle Nuijten, who did research on statistical inconsistencies in publications. She developed the statcheck program: a 'spelling checker' for statistics.

Download the Essay Time for Interdisciplinarity

Two honorary doctorates were awarded by Tilburg University. The first one was presented to Prof. Julia Hirschberg (Columbia University, New York) by Prof. Marc Swerts of Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences.  In his laudatio he stated: ‘Her research agenda is very much in line with the central aims of the Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, given its central focus on humans in a digital society and their relation with interactive technologies. And Julia truly embodies interdisciplinarity.'

Hirschberg said that she had obtained two PhD’s, in history and computer and had learned to connect these in her work on spoken dialogue systems.  You have to be open to new experiences in order to become an interdisciplinary scientist. She stated.

 Uncertainty in economics

The other honorary doctorate was bestowed on Nobel Prize Winner Prof. Lars Peter Hansen (University of Chicago, Chicago) by Prof. Bas Werker of the Tilburg School of Economics and Managment. In his Laudation he said: ‘Among the many academic breakthroughs that you’ve achieved, I think that bridging macro-economics and financial markets is the one that has the largest impact on society as a whole. In line with today’s theme, you’ve shown that a deep understanding of both is needed to make sense of what is going on around us. This, we know from history will most likely not avoid future financial and economic crisis, but helps in understanding them, and, thus, dealing with them. You’ve been key to the establishment of the macro-finance academic field.’

Hansen explained that his work focuses on uncertainty in economics and its analysis. Uncertainty is an element the society should acknowledge. Unlike other economists, he developed a broader perspective on economic uncertainty, including financial markets and oversight, as well as climate change in relation to economy.