Nuffield 2018 Contemporary Scholars Conference (CSC)

10th March – 17th March 2018. in The Netherlands

The 2018 CSC was held at Center Parcs in The Netherlands. The inaugural CSC was held in The Netherlands in 2006, and Nuffield Netherlands was delighted to welcome international scholars and guests back to its country in 2018. 

With low input and high output, the Netherlands has developed an innovative and efficiency world leading farming industry. This small country exports agri-food products, service and knowledge all over the world.

Figures and facts

  • Small country in size (42,000 km2) and densely populated (over 17 million inhabitants)
  • Second largest exporter of food, flowers & agri in the world (after USA)
  • Food & sector in the Dutch economy:
    • 10% of GDP
    • 10% of employment
    • 25% of total export
  • Low footprint (land use, carbon) per kilogram of product
  • Leading in science: Wageningen UR the #1 worldwide in food & agri
  • Major sectors: horticulture and livestock farming

10 March

  • / Henk-Jan Kooij - View
  • / Stefan van Merrienboer & Richard Scheper - View
  • - View

12 March

14 March

15 March

  • / Kazumi Ikeda-Larhed - View

18 March

  • / Karen Brosnan - View
  • / Dr Richard Wiseman - View

A summary of the CSC, written by Tommy the Vet, (Tommy Heffernan), 2018 Irish Scholar

As the plane descended I flicked towards the end of my book. nervous and excited about the CSC. Just as I was about to put the book away the author quoted George Bernard Shaw. The lines were:

this is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognised as yourself as a mighty one, being a true force of nature instead of a feverish clod of ailments and grievances complaining the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can

These words got me thinking, and so began a remarkable week. My Nuffield Scholarship is indeed a great honour but only this last week have I truly realised the depth and ability of the organisation itself. My top ten learnings for the week:

1. Fear—What an unusual place to start! I hadn’t felt fear like this in so long though. That fear of being beyond my depth, feeling like a fraud even, surrounded by so many incredibly talented people.

2. Listening—I’m not a great listener (never was) but I try hard to improve all the time. From the very beginning of the conference we were told to be ‘more interested than interesting’. The top brass were right. The stories of the other scholars will be with me and inspire me for many long years ahead. 

3. Stories—There was two types of stories that resonated with me, those of the people I’d met and the stories of the businesses we saw. There was also the powerful human stories of my fellow scholars, not afraid to show weakness and bare all. 

4. Social Media—For the last six months I’ve pondered a lot about social media. Using it to convey my messages and connect it has been a powerful ally. Alas I reflect on its impact on my thinking (or lack thereof). I now limit its use and my time on it. 

5. Haste, Humility and Hugs—There was many profound moments. One of those unfolded as a story in itself. It started with a misjudgement or a moment of haste by someone. Then an act of humility in response to that mistake. 

6. Song—Freddy from Tanzania spoke his local prayer softly before the meal we helped cook together. Blessing the nine nationalities gathered around the table and our families. (that is Nuffield). 

7. Pride—farmers need to feel the pride again and get the recognition they deserve. 

8. Challenges—All around us people have challenges and most tend to dwell on them. This group (scholars) and Nuffield encourages you to recognise them but also equips you to focus more on the solutions

9. Happiness—I am slowly learning that the people who are happiest are those intent on growing. That can mean different things to different people, but it means moving forward and always evolving into a better version of yourself.

10. Life is Short—In this short life few things matter but family. Two stories that were shared with me this last week highlighted this so pointedly 

However I do feel a renewed since of greater purpose after my week with Nuffield and not afraid to think differently. 

Read Tommy’s article in full here

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