Voices of AUC is a yearly recurring dialogue and discussion platform for AUC students, staff, and alumni. At the conference, all participants engage with one another on an equal footing to explore one another’s ideas about AUC. This form of constructive conversation allows us to identify problems, create new ideas, and suggest solutions that all members of the AUC community can be proud of. The philosophy is that of ‘participatory leadership’: all layers of the institution should be involved in bringing ideas to the table and making decisions.
The organisers of Voices of AUC believe that in a small and tight-knit institution like AUC, decision-making can and should be done not just top-down, but mostly bottom-up. When we sit together as equals, we often find that students, teachers, and management have similar goals and dreams for AUC. Only when we listen to each other and respect each other’s contribution can we formulate these dreams and goals and figure out together how to get there. The outcomes of the discussion play an important role in the decisions of the Student Council, Board of Studies, and AUC Management, and thus represent a step towards a more democratic institution.
The overarching theme for the fifth edition of Voices of AUC, prepared by the organizing team behind the event, was “LAS: Beyond the Classroom.” This overarching theme was subdivided into three focused themes: (1) social responsibility of AUC, (2) experiential learning, and (3) wellbeing of the AUC community. The first theme addressed the role of an educational institution like AUC as a hub of knowledge that should facilitate respectful yet critical discourse on societal developments. The second theme explored the burgeoning dimension of AUC’s curriculum that allows students to gain hands-on experience anchored in real-world contexts through internships, community projects, undergraduate research projects, excursions, etc. The third and last theme treated the way in which health, wellbeing, and excellence correlate.
The topic for this year’s fourth edition of “Voices” was AUC’S Liberal Arts and Sciences: What’s Now and What’s Next? This topichad three main points of focus: the interdisciplinary core of the Liberal Arts and Sciences degree (LAS), the tutor-tutee system, as well as the prospects of a LAS degree. The first theme addressed the core of the LAS programme by looking at the mandatory Academic Core subjects which all students are required to take. The second theme was intended to foster understanding of, and creative ideas regarding how to homogenize the tutor-tutee system as students currently have largely differing experiences. The last theme looked at future possibilities for students that complete the LAS programme, and evaluated how AUC as an institution works towards preparing its students for their upcoming academic or professional careers.
The overarching theme of Voices of AUC 2017 was Questioning the Academic and Social Culture at AUC. During the discussion, there were three rounds in which the following topics were discussed: AUC Engagement, Student Life at AUC, and Responsibilities. It covered issues such as class participation and involvement, the role of extracurricular (academic and social) activities at AUC, the relation between the social experience at the dorms and the academic experience at AUC, AUC’s involvement in the dorms and social life, and the responsibilities that we have as students and informed citizens towards the community at AUC, in Amsterdam, and globally.
After the success of 2015, the second Voices of AUC conference was organised on Thursday the 21st of April 2016, at AUCafé again. The conference lived up to the success of the first installment, with more than 60 students, teachers, and staff members sharing their ideas about the motto of AUC. While our motto, Excellence and Diversity in a Global City, contains some values that should be pillars of the AUC community, it is often mocked or at least not taken to be true. The participants explored why that is, and what can be done about it in order to collectively give meaning once more to our motto. The resulting report has since served as a guideline for the management in their AUC21 programme that aims to prepare AUC for the future.
Voices of AUC was organised for the first time on 22 April 2015 at AUCafé. With around 60 students and staff members participating, it was an immediate success. The aim for the conference’s participants was to provide the community, and the incoming new Dean in particular, with an overview of the hopes for AUC’S future. The conference was thus divided into three stages: dreaming, thinking, and doing. The cross-section of shared experiences, stories, dreams, opinions and solutions covered an astonishing number of aspects in the fields of AUC’s identity, community, institution, management and academia.