For best experience please turn on javascript and use a modern browser!
You are using a browser that is no longer supported by Microsoft. Please upgrade your browser. The site may not present itself correctly if you continue browsing.
This series introduces us to a different employee each week. Find out what they love about their job and learn things you might not know about them yet. This week: ASE lecturer Dirk Damsma.
Dirk Damsma
Dirk Damsma

What do you like most about your job?

Discussions with students who come from different backgrounds. I recently gave a seminar on the history of economics theory and Karl Marx’s body of thought. These days, a this topic requires trigger warnings. The words Karl Marx are a dirty word for Americans, but the parents of Eastern European students were expected to worship Marx as if he’s the Messiah. But they’re now more likely to view Marx as the evil mastermind behind a totalitarian regime. It was up to me to debunk all of these connotations and discuss Marx’s scholarly work based on its scholarly merits.

I was able to this, but it was unavoidable that there would be some mild discomfort. After the lesson, 3 students (from India, Moldavia and Estonia, but don’t hold me to it that these were the countries) stayed behind to continue the discussion. All the trigger warnings were abandoned during  this discussion. We talked about how it felt to live next to a big brother like Russia, how censorship in Western countries has become commonplace, India’s geopolitical position, Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin, and why Russia attacked Ukraine (whatever else you may think, it was not an unprovoked attack). I find these kinds of uncomfortable but very informative discussions to be extremely inspirational. They show us what a university should be like.

Which project from the past year are you most proud of?

I haven’t done anything spectacular this past year, but if I was to pick something, the first thing that comes to mind is the activities of the assessment board. I’m the chair of this board and we had some start-up problems early on. But we’ve drafted 2 good evaluation reports and we’ve established a good structure. I am priveleged to be able to do this with motivated and inspired colleagues

What might your colleagues not know about you?

I’m a huge fan of all kinds of metal music. If I need to concentrate, I listen to ethereal and suicidal-depressing Black Metal. Most people are surprised to learn this (except for the chair of the Works Council who is also a metalhead).