On 23 May 2019, around 50 participants spent an animated afternoon together at ISS listening to presentations on 'Safety and Security for university staff and students in remote, complex and hazardous regions'.
In this presentation, participants discussed what they could do to create safer working conditions for Dutch researchers in the field in hazardous, remote and complex environments. ISS co-organised a seminar on this topic together with the Centre for Safety and Development (CSD). Good practice examples from abroad (the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and IDS in the UK) provided ideas as to how the right balance can be found. In other words, how can we limit risk and provide appropriate support to our researchers without interfering with academic freedom?
Closer to home, Marlies Glasius of the University of Amsterdam talked about her important work on how to work as safely as possible in areas where an authoritarian regime is in power and Thea Hilhorst of ISS summarised some of the key issues to take into consideration as we move forward.
Director of CSD, Ebe Brons, gave the last presentation of the day. He provided us with some good ideas on what might be needed in order to achieve the goal of a safe and secure working environment for our research community.
It is clear that there is a growing awareness that universities have not only a legal duty of care for their researchers but also a moral obligation as an employer to provide appropriate support and training designed to keep risk to their researcher employees to a minimum.
The closing session of the seminar was devoted to collecting ideas and recommendations for further work from those who were present. There is still much work to be done!