Humans of TU Delft: Yannick Servais

Who are the people who study and work at TU Delft? Meet Yannick Servais, Head of Studium Generale. Learn why he thinks the university is sitting on a gold mine.

Yannick Servais: "There’s a need for what Studium Generale provides." (Photo: Heather Montague)

“I was working as a freelancer in project management in the cultural sector. Everyone who works freelance knows that it’s hard  and the pay is not always great. Since I have a young daughter, I was looking for a bit more stability. I live in Amsterdam so Delft wasn’t really within the area that I was looking. But I’ve always wanted to work for Studium Generale (SG) so when I saw the vacancy, I decided to go for it. Then when I got the job, I was incredibly happy and now that I’m here I’m loving it.

My goal for the SG is to fulfill the mission that we already have, but give it a bit more substance than we have been doing so far. The mission is to broaden the academic horizon for students, employees and also citizens of Delft. But what I see is that we don’t reach as many people as we could. There is so much need, it seems, to contextualise the studies, for giving meaning to things like, ‘ok, I can build a bridge, but what does that mean for the community?’. It’s looking at the ethical side of engineering. When I talk to people, they do feel that’s important. There’s a need for what we provide, but more people need to become aware of that.

Students have energy and ideals and they are willing to debate

There are many initiatives in Delft and on campus for extracurricular activities and interests, but sometimes I feel that we’re all operating on islands and we don’t work together as well as we should and could. So, my goal for SG, apart from creating interesting, meaningful and intellectual content, is to reach our target groups much more effectively than we do at the moment.

Part of what we do is very much traditional lecture-based. I think that format will not disappear, but it shouldn’t be the only format. I often tell people that we are sitting on a gold mine when you look at the students here and how idealistic many of them are. They have the energy and ideals and they are willing to think about things, to debate, to discuss. We have to make use of that energy and collaborate much more with students and their ideas instead of saying here’s a professor and they’re giving a lecture. Student ideas, student interaction, that should be the driving force for SG.”

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Heather Montague / Freelance writer

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