FHS faculty to split, the question is how


MAASTRICHT. One thing is clear: The Faculty of Humanities and Sciences (FHS) is going to be split up. The science side will form a new Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), the sections that cannot be included, will go their own way.

Sections that will have to go are University College, the College in Venlo, the Maastricht Graduate School of Governance and the ICIS institute (sustainability), together making up half of the present faculty. Having said that, it is not unthinkable that some of those sections will remain with the new FSE after all.

The ‘old’ FHS has always been a collective faculty, consisting of dissimilar elements that simply did not fit into a ‘regular’ faculty. Mathieu Segers, dean of UCM, has been appointed as interim vice dean as from 1 March to pave the way for the non-science sections. As of yet, no detailed scenarios have been devised. And Segers is deliberately not committing himself. Excusing himself for his “woolly language,” he says: “I will not be pushing in a certain direction, it must be a free process. I will first take an inventory of ideas that the various department have.” As dean of UCM, he knows one of these ideas only too well: the wish that UCM is given more space to carry out research.

Segers admits that from an organisational perspective, there are roughly three options: a new faculty, moving sections to existing faculties, or - he states mysteriously - “something new”. The latter could mean anything, such as an “interdisciplinary structure,” says Segers. “Maastricht is the very place where this should be possible, because unlike in older universities, the faculty boundaries at the UM are less solid.” In this regard, he refers to the introduction of a ‘broad’ interdisciplinary bachelor of Global Studies, which is currently being set up.

The starting point is that the content determines the organisational framework, not the other way around; Segers doesn't want to be any more specific than that. Another starting point, he says, is that the ‘incubator function’ of the old FHS stays in place: the possibility to develop new initiatives. That is also how at one stage within FHS's predecessor the seed was sown for a completely new cultural sciences faculty, now FASoS.

Segers and Thomas Cleij, the interim dean of the new FSE, will certainly consult the present faculties about possible collaboration.

It is a known fact that setting up a new faculty can lead to conflicts; one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Faculty of Psychology was the switch of whole groups from the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences. For years afterwards critical questions were being asked in FHML faculty council: when was a certain group going to return to the cradle?

The new FSE could also attract science researchers from other faculties. After all, the winds are favourable, and FSE will undoubtedly manage to tap all kinds of funds. But such moves are not under discussion for the time being, Segers declares. He does say: “We don't want to cause rivalry, no unnecessary mutual competition. Collaboration is of primary importance. No do we want to disturb the established structures.”



FHS faculty to split, the question is how
Mathieu Segers UCM/ UM archive