Our organisation is at the cutting edge when it comes to addressing substantial, modern-day social themes: the growing world population and growing wealth which is resulting in a growing demand for food; climate change and its subsequent impact; urbanisation; and an increased burden on the soil, water, and air, which, in turn, makes food safety uncertain. All of these topics pose significant challenges to the world and elicit a wide range of opinions.
The art of dialogue in a changing world
We are facing a growing world population and a rising demand for food; climate change and biodiversity loss; migration and urbanisation. All these developments pose significant challenges to the world and all these developments are complex – which means that there are many dependencies, unknowns and pathways for change. To navigate through these complexities, we practice the art of dialogue. Dialogue helps to build confidence and to foster understanding between people with different opinions, interests, perspectives and values. It can therewith contribute towards countering the increasing trend of polarisation and tunnel-vision. Through listening to each other and getting to know each other's backgrounds, we obtain a better understanding of the complexity of the world. We can then arrive at new insights together and engage each other for a positive impact on, with, and for the world.
Dialogue enhances knowledge exchange
Dialogue has also proved to be valuable to exchange knowledge and to enrich the view on complex multilayered problems and challenges. By connecting different stakeholders with a variety of perspectives around one topic, we can learn from each other. Through listening we create better understanding. For WUR this also means that we are able to enrich our research programmes.
WUR also aims to facilitate complex, responsible decision making among stakeholders in transition processes. But we are aware that this responsibility requires extensive human capabilities that go beyond blunt knowledge production. In order to fulfil our role as a knowledge institute, it is essential that students and researchers allow themselves to be enriched by diverse viewpoints in society and develop the skills and attitude to become enriched. All to understand problems and backgrounds better and to arrive at new insights. Connection and co-creation, a culture of dialogue and deliberation, and more reflexive science is needed. It is therefore that WUR stimulates dialogue among researchers, within research projects and on societal issues.
Dialogue inspires with different views and other perspectives
To enable us to see the bigger picture, space needs to be created where stakeholders can share their perspective. A dialogue can host such a space, and enable us to enrich our perspective. This ability can lead us to see things in a different light, gain new insights and obtain a greater understanding of complex issues. We adopt this approach to share knowledge and obtain a more inclusive viewpoint across disciplines and sectors of society. To foster dialogue, training and support is given within WUR, as well as hosting various dialogue topics to engage societal stakeholders and interested citizens. These are some of the efforts to collectively take steps forward in the challenges we face today.