Wageningen University & Research 105 years

For 105 years, Wageningen University & Research has been working on solutions to the major problems of the time. Since the establishment of the Rijks Hoogere Land-, Tuin- en Boschbouwschool, scientists and students have committed themselves to securing sufficient food for everyone. Now, 105 years later, Wageningen University & Research focuses on shaping a sustainable future, with research and education on climate, biodiversity, nutrition, circularity and healthy living. This lustrum year, various activities and publications are all about Wageningen University & Research 105 years and the theme: Shaping Sustainable Futures.

Shaping sustainable futures, then and now


History of Wageningen University & Research in a timeline

  • March 9, 1918
    The first Dies Natalis
    In 1918, the Hoogere Land- en Boschbouwschool was established by law as an academic institution with March 9 as the official Dies Natalis. The origins of WUR are older: in 1876, the government took over the municipal agricultural school of Wageningen, thus starting national agricultural education in the Netherlands. From 1896 to 1904 the name of the institution was the Hoogere Land- en Boschbouwschool and from 1904 to 1918 the institute was known as the Rijks Hoogere Land-, Tuin- en Boschbouwschool.
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  • February 10, 1936
    Artificial light for fruit and vegetables
    At an early stage, researchers in Wageningen studied the use of artificial light for fruit and vegetable cultivation. With artificial light, cultivation can be intensified and crops can also be grown in light-poor winters. Because the conditions are controllable, the effects are easier to investigate than with sunlight. There are still questions about light utilization efficiency, the optimal lighting duration, the best light colors for crops and fruits, and so on. In the hypermodern Netherlands Plant Eco-phenotyping Centre, the light can be fully controlled and cameras and other sensors can register plant growth in detail. The video below contains images from the Polygoon Hollands Nieuws of February 1936 about Wageningen research into early strawberry cultivation by irradiation with neon light. (Source: Open Images/Beeld en Geluid)
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  • October 9, 1958
    Mansholt receives honorary doctorate for modernising agriculture
    On 9 October 1956, Sicco Leendert Mansholt received an honorary doctorate from the Agricultural College in Wageningen for his services to agriculture. As minister, Mansholt put the food supply in order in the Netherlands after the Second World War. Throughout his life, he devoted himself to the development of agriculture in the Netherlands and Europe, by improving productivity and increasing farmers' incomes, with stable and affordable prices for producers and consumers. During annual so-called Mansholt lectures, WUR presents visions and recommendations on European policy. For example, the Mansholt lecture in 2022 was all about the Nature-positive future.
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  • October 29, 1963
    First course in nature conservation and nature management
    Should students be allowed to take a subject on the 'natural science aspects of conservation'? A committee of the College of Agriculture considered that question in early 1963. The committee stated that nature conservation aims 'to preserve biological resources...also called the natural capital, the biological potential present on earth'. On 29 October 1963, the committee adopted the proposal for starting a course on 'nature conservation and nature management'. That nature is valuable and enjoys protection is now deeply integrated into WUR's DNA. WUR's research and education focuses on topics such as climate change and biodiversity. view_Additional information
  • December 9, 1965
    First female professor
    Clara Wilhelmina Visser was the first female professor at Wageningen Agricultural College. The subject of her inaugural lecture, which she delivered on December 9, 1952, shows how different those times were: The work of the housewife. The course consisted of a social direction with sociology and economics and a domestic technical track on the subjects of commodity knowledge, textiles and food. Visser herself taught the main subject 'management and management of the household'. The photo shows her opening the 1965 household fair. Despite the fact that Visser paved the way for many female colleagues, there is still no equal distribution of women and men, although it is improving. WUR's goal is for the share of female professors to be at least 30 percent by 2025. At the end of 2022, that was 25 percent, looking at FTEs.
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  • January 1, 1986
    From Agricultural College to Agricultural University
    With an amendment to the Scientific Education Act, the government changed the term Agricultural College to Agricultural University, allowing Wageningen to call itself a university town. The picture from 1986 shows a Practicum Tropical Plant Cultivation, in which students study the external characteristics of cotton plants.
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  • October 17, 1997
    Agricultural University and DLO institutes merge to become Wageningen University & Research
    On 1 September 1997, the Minister of LNV gave the go-ahead for the merger of the Agricultural University with the Agricultural Research Service. The cabinet announced its support for the formation of a 'powerful Wageningen Knowledge Centre of international stature, the heart of which will be formed by the Agricultural University, the Agricultural Research Department (DLO), which is to be made independent externally, and parts of the practical research.' A year later, the operational merger is a fact and the Agricultural University is called Wageningen University from then on. In 2016, Wageningen University and research institutes were given a single brand name: Wageningen University & Research. view_Additional information

2008: Fundamental work on CRISPR-cas

Professor John van der Oost, professor of microbiology at Wageningen University, helped lay the foundations for CRISPR-Cas in 2008. CRISPR-Cas is a technology that allows genetic material to be modified relatively easily and extremely accurately and efficiently. The ultimate goal of plant breeding has always been to make plants resistant to drought and disease. This can help eliminate hunger from the world. CRISPR-Cas technology may be able to help with this. Wageningen University & Research has been one of the first to offer free licences for patented CRISPR technology since 2021. 'With this, we hope to contribute to healthier, more sustainable, equitable and robust food production for all,' said WUR president Prof Dr Louise O. Fresco at the time.

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  • April 9, 2018
    WUR 100 years
    During the period from 9 March to 9 November 2018, WUR celebrated its 100th anniversary with more than 80 events and activities, spread across the themes of Life, Food, and Earth. Not only the campus was dedicated to 100 years of WUR, but there were also festivities in the city to celebrate the special bond between the city of Wageningen and the university.
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2023: Shaping sustainable futures

Global warming and the decline in biodiversity are just a few examples showing that the earth is creaking under the (increasing) pressure exerted by humanity. We must shape the future in a sustainable way to prevent the growing world population from further exceeding planetary limits. In Wageningen, we are aware of the danger and thousands of scientists are working to develop solutions. The challenges we face know no geographical boundaries. To find the necessary answers, multidisciplinary cooperation between science and society is a must. Education and continuous dialogue play a central role in this.

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