Falling student numbers sounded the death knell for the Agricultural College. But the merger with the DLO Research Institutes in 1997 was its salvation. Martijn de Groot and Joost van Kasteren have written a book about the past quarter of a century of WUR, with the main focus on this merger.
In the nineties agriculture was far from popular and the Agricultural College was struggling with falling student numbers. In Metamorfose (‘Metamorphosis’) Joost van Kasteren and Martijn de Groot describe how WUR resurrected itself.
Other than the three books about the first 75 years of WUR, Metamorfose takes a journalistic perspective. Whereas the aforementioned books were based on archive research, De Groot and Van Kasteren carried out dozens of interviews. “Our aim was to make the book a good read,” explains De Groot. “So we selected a number of subjects and approached them in a journalistic manner.”
Familiar with WUR
WUR is familiar terrain for both writers. De Groot studied Extension Education and Van Kasteren Molecular Sciences. Both became a journalist with a focus on agriculture. Despite their background in Wageningen, it came as a surprise when they were asked to write the book. “Although I wrote for Belhamel - a distant predecessor of Resource – when I was a student, I haven’t written much for WUR,” says Van Kasteren.
In Metamorfose the authors sketch the enormous development that WUR went through, from a flagging Agricultural College to the constantly growing, internationally renowned WUR we know today. But, according to De Groot, the book’s title does not exclusively refer to the merger between the Agricultural College and DLO. “The university has expanded its field of vision enormously,” he explains. “Traditionally, WUR was intrinsically intertwined with the agricultural sector and the main focus of research was on increasing productivity and economies of scale. These days, WUR taps into what is going on in society, such as nutrition research. The third metamorphosis is the change from a collection of small buildings distributed over Wageningen into a wonderful concentration of research facilities on a state of the art campus where everyone comes together.”
All the text has now been written and the chapters are in the design stage. The book will be launched on 15 March, but Metamorfose can already be ordered from the publisher at a reduced price.