'Uhm, well, it's kind of hard to say what the UU should be researching about'


Let the residents of Utrecht ask their most pressing questions and UU's scientists will conduct research to answer them. That's the idea behind the Utrecht Science Agenda, set to be announced next year. It is meant as a gift from the university to the city. DUB talked to people on the streets and found out two things: first, not everyone knows what UU does. Secondly, coming up with a question isn't so easy.

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The Utrecht Science Agenda is one of the key elements of Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht's lustrum celebrations. Researchers from the university and the university hospital will search for answers to all kinds of questions posed by the city's residents. These questions include whether fish can contract the coronavirus and how to make a neighbourhood safer. "A single question can change the world" is the project's motto and every resident, young or old, is welcome to participate.

Early next year, the university will look into the submissions and select the questions researchers will delve into. However, coming up with an inquiry for a scientist is no piece of cake, as DUB's experience approaching people in the streets of Utrecht reveals. Some of the questions we've heard were related to our living environment, such as the air quality in the city centre, while others were a bit more general, like how to define consciousness. 

Sharing Arts Society has been chosen for the campaign. The agency is best known for the yearly Sint Maarten parade, in which light sculptures move across the city in procession, sheding light upon societal themes. Other partners include the municipality, the libraries, and the organisation Taal doet Meer (Language does more). 

UU and UMCU have made a video to encourage people to send their questions through a special lustrum website. The idea was to organise meetings in the city where residents would be able to talk to researchers and ask their questions in person, but the Covid-19 pandemic may put a spanner in the works.

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