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The UvA conducts research that makes a difference in society. Sometimes this means that our researchers collaborate with industry, government or other knowledge institutes. We call this collaboration with third parties. It provides scientists with new research data, funding and/or insights. But sometimes it also raises ethical questions about the choice of collaborator as well as academic responsibility and freedom.

Advisory commission and policy

To support scientists in choosing partners to collaborate with, the UvA has set up an advisory committee in 2021. For example, to prevent data from research being used by parties that violate human rights or have terrorist or military motives. The committee consists of experienced scientists and policy officers from all UvA faculties and meets regularly to discuss cases put forward by researchers, research directors or other UvA bodies.

The committee advises the Executive Board and deans on new research collaborations. The committee also provides a step-by-step plan for researchers to test their doubts about possible unethical use by third parties. In the coming months, we will evaluate whether to continue or revise the current guidelines for collaborations. Researchers can find more information here (login required) (in Dutch).

Fossil fuel industry as a starting point for dialogue

Due to the pressing climate crisis, the question of whether or not to cooperate with the fossil fuel industry is very vividly discussed in universities and society. We therefore want to take this topic as a starting point for a dialogue that ultimately goes beyond the fossil industry. This dialogue will take the form of online and in-person events gathering and discussing perspectives on collaborating with the fossil fuel industry. After this, UvA is organising a series of events on this in the coming months, involving as many students and staff as possible.

The goal of this series of events is to revisit the guidelines that support UvA researchers and ethical advisory boards on how to evaluate the potentially controversial nature of third parties. We want to take the fossil fuel dialogue as a starting point to sharpen our ideas on when/if and how to work with third parties. We plan to engage UvA stakeholders in a dialogue to ensure these guidelines take into consideration the various perspectives of UvA faculty, staff and students. 

The Executive Board has decided, until this dialogue is finalised and agreements are made within the UvA, not to start any more research with the support of fossil fuel companies.

Voice your opinion 

We are aware that it is not always easy to voice your opinion in public. That is why we are also opening a counter where anyone connected to the UvA can go with opinions and questions.