Overview

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
3584 CS UTRECHT
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Overview

Building on previously existing relations, the KLI was established in 1991 (see KNAW Proposal 1994). In 1992 it received a Stimulans grant from NWO. This grant was instrumental in improving the infrastructure of the KLI. Moreover, it helped to build commitment to the KLI by providing financial support for workshops and the first KLI-conference. Part of the money was invested in “Telepanel”, a computer-based system for surveying a representative sample of Dutch households. Until Telepanel ran into financial problems in 1997, several members of the KLI made good use of Telepanel facilities for the purposes of data collection. In 1995 the KLI was recognised by the KNAW as a Graduate School in Social Psychology and its Applications. In 1997 the KLI applied for recognition as a Toponderzoekschool in the context of the Dieptestrategie. The proposal was evaluated very positively, but not awarded. In 1998 the KLI group at the RUG (together with the ICS group at the RUG) was granted support in the context of the Breedtestrategie. In 1999 the KLI group at the VU received a similar award. In the past years, the KLI has been very successful in acquiring funding for its research in both the second and third streams of research financing. The grants awarded to KLI staff for collaborative research programmes across universities are especially worth mentioning in this connection.

In the course of the procedures for recognition by the KNAW in 1995, the KLI agreed to restrict its request for recognition to social psychology and its applications (see KNAW Proposal 1994). No recognition was sought for those sectors of the KLI that concerned Personality and Individual Differences, and Group and Organisational Processes. The reason for this was the view of the ECOS that the original KLI application was too heterogeneous with respect to its scientific mission. Researchers whose work was closely identified with those two research themes could only remain affiliate members of the KLI. Towards the end of the 5-year period the need was felt to rewrite the original mission statement.

In the process of redrafting the mission statement the three previous research themes have been reconfigured into four research divisions. These divisions are organized in terms of different levels of social psychological analysis: (1) intrapersonal processes, (2) interpersonal processes, (3) group and organizational processes, and (4) intergroup processes. A revised mission statement was circulated to all affiliate members of the KLI, and those who felt that their work fitted into this mission were invited to apply for full membership. Many (but not all) of the affiliate members applied for full membership. Their applications were then judged by the Executive Committee. With some exceptions the Executive Committee recommended to the General Board that the applicants were to be admitted; the General Board approved these recommendations, and thus the affiliate members in question were admitted to full KLI membership.

Benefiting from our experience and from student evaluations, the teaching program has been further structured and formalised. It was decided that each student should take part in a set of Basic Courses (practical courses: Writing in English, How to Publish, How to Present, Literature Review, and Methodology). Further optional Methodological and Practical Courses and Theory-oriented Workshops and Courses can be chosen as desired. Recently courses on Career Planning have been added to the programme. At the same time, the process of monitoring and progress assessment of Ph.D. projects has been considerably intensified and formalised. Two of the five universities (VU and UvA) have completely delegated the evaluation and assessment of individual Ph.D. projects to the KLI. All this has resulted in a highly successful graduate program. On average 16 graduate students enter the programme every year, of whom 85% complete their Ph.D. in an average of 4.7 years. This is above the national average and well above the average for the social sciences. Indeed, the KLI is in the same range as the natural sciences in this regard. All students manage to find a job upon completion. There is an increasing trend for KLI graduate students to complete their Ph.D. program not only with a dissertation but with a number of publications in refereed journals.

The Vrije Universiteit has been the penvoerder (i.e., university responsible for the administration of the institute) of the KLI during the first 10 years. During this term the VU has been extremely supportive of the KLI. Financially, the VU has provided the resources to maintain the secretariat, and as of 1998 it doubled the funding made available to the KLI in view of its responsibility as the penvoerder. The VU has also been very supportive both when the KLI applied for recognition as a graduate school and when the KLI applied for the dieptestrategie. The VU has repeatedly expressed its strong commitment to the KLI. The administrative and managerial support provided by both the Faculty of Psychology and Pedagogics (FPP) at the VU and the central administration of the VU has been satisfactory. The internal organizational structure of the KLI has also operated satisfactorily. The only two changes made in the administrative arrangements since the KNAW recognition of the KLI have been the appointment of two “confidential advisors” (vertrouwenspersonen) who can be consulted by individual Ph.D. students if needed, and the establishment of a Scientific Advisory Board.

The KLI continues to occupy a strong position within the Dutch and European contexts. It brings together virtually all senior researchers and graduate students in social psychology and its applications in the Netherlands. The very few exceptions are those whose primary research lends itself more obviously to another research school, such as Psychology and Health. In addition a significant number of foreign students (mainly from Belgium, Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain) participate in some of the courses offered in the teaching program.

The research strength of the KLI is evidenced by the scientific output of its members in terms of publications in high ranking peer-reviewed journals, by the impact scores of these publications, by the number of grants acquired in the past five years, and by the embeddedness of the KLI in international scientific networks. There have been notable improvements in terms of each of these criteria during the past five years. In order to encourage students to publish, a student paper award has been established.


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