Committed to Excellence
Our mission is to attract highly motivated, capable students and to cultivate their talents through a challenging and at times very demanding curriculum. The ultimate aim is to produce excellent graduates, who are able make a difference in the world.
At the same time, we endeavor to make quality research contributions, both theoretical and empirical, in Economics and Business. Such contributions lead to publications in leading scholarly journals and have an impact on policies and practice in the profession, government, and society in general.
Over the past five years we have renewed our vision by formulating objectives for both education and research on two dimensions. The first dimension is the behavioral component rooted in the core values of VU Amsterdam: Responsible, Personal, and Open. In addition, at FEWEB we have devised a content component, elaborating on the knowledge and expertise of the three key roles of our graduates and faculty, i.e., as Academics, Professionals, and Citizens. These behavioral and content components are reflected in all of FEWEB’s educational and research programs, differentiated according to their nature.
The two dimensions are elaborated on in paragraphs 3 and 4. The following section briefly outlines the history of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
FEWEB was established as the Faculty of Economics in 1948. It has evolved to include business economics and, since 2000, business administration. This expanding scope has coincided with an increased focus on research, which has enhanced our teaching rather than detracting from it. Executive and professional training has been established and expanded in parallel, initially encompassing accounting, control, and finance and later extending to fields such as management consultancy, change management, and coaching.
FEWEB is one of the ten faculties of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. VU Amsterdam has a tradition of social involvement and is deeply committed to serving the public cause, discussing pre-scholarly assumptions rather than ignoring or repudiating them and embracing religious and cultural diversity. This dates back to our origins, as VU Amsterdam was founded in 1880 – with the modifier Vrije (free) denoting freedom from interference by either state or church. At first the university was open only to members of the Dutch Reformed Church and was financed entirely by their fundraising efforts and donations.
Since the 1960s the university has been state-funded and is open to everyone. The emphasis on diversity and social involvement persists to this day and is highlighted in the vision of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
3 Behavioral Component
“Responsible” means being constantly aware of the consequences of one’s actions. This awareness is cultivated through the active engagement of staff and students. In research, responsibility is reflected by the academic integrity of the faculty, clearly and transparently giving account of its vision on research, the realisation of this vision, and the receptiveness to feedback. Moreover, faculty members actively participate in their research department, thus fostering the sense of community and strengthening the research output, resulting in high quality contributions. In education, engagement manifests in the interaction between faculty and students and among students. The role of the faculty here is through lecturing and offering guidance. There is a sense of responsibility for each other and solidarity with one another, manifesting in collaboration between students. It is equally reflected in the strong emphasis on ethical behavior and personal responsibility throughout all levels of education.
“Personal” is reflected in the respectful treatment of each individual with a focus on the human dimension. The approach is recognizable in the way the FEWEB sets the research agenda. We do not pursue a policy of ex-ante selection of research fields or research questions, as we are convinced that “picking winners” is not conducive to achieving excellence in research. We believe that our researchers are naturally attracted to innovative and promising research questions and thrive in the stimulating environment of a successful research group. Moreover, the personal approach translates into a collegiate environment, characterised by personal involvement of faculty with students and among students and faculty. This involvement is partly shaped by the mentorship (student to student or senior to junior researcher) and the tutorial (lecturer to student) and is strengthened by the FEWEB organizational structure engaging students and faculty through various feedback and review groups, programme and research boards, and representation committees. The result is a community of committed faculty, staff, and students.
"Open" translates into an inspiring meeting place in an environment that encourages interaction between individuals with diverse backgrounds, both students and faculty. Openness is rooted in the history of VU Amsterdam, with its strong tradition of individual attention, regardless of nationality, cultural or religious background, and social views. The principle that knowledge is open to everyone is central in our research approach. We strongly believe in Open Access and encourage faculty members to open up their publications to students and academia as well as to a wider public. Exchange of knowledge and confrontation with other perspectives leading to new insights is conducive to scholarly innovation with a societal impact. It also makes for open-minded graduates sensitive to social diversity.
4 Content Component
The raison d'être of the university is primarily reflected in the role of the Academic. The academic environment at FEWEB strongly emphasizes quality over quantity. FEWEB aims for quality theoretical and empirical research, giving rise to publications in leading journals relevant in Business and Economics. Research is organised in twelve research programmes covering a wide range of Business, Economics, and Econometrics topics and is also closely aligned with the specialisations and core contents of the undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degree programs.
The scholarly foundation of our educational programs trains students to solve complex problems through methodical application of knowledge. Integration of academic research in the program is the basis of education, in developing knowledge as well as academic skills. This integration derives from the "community of learners" principle, i.e. students and faculty process and create knowledge. This is reflected in specific learning curves in research, with courses in research methodology and philosophy that cultivate the skill to critique. By participating in research projects guided by faculty or even cooperating in one of the research programs, students are educated as Academics with thorough academic knowledge and skills.
FEWEB also features broadly oriented bachelor’s programs. This broad scope gives students the opportunity to explore various disciplines within the program and, through flexible curricula and generous elective latitude in the third year, to come to a carefully considered choice of specialisation. The structure enables students to customize the program according to their needs. In the subsequent master’s phase, students have the opportunity to specialise further within that specific field and to prepare for careers as professionals or in research.
We feel that the duty of disseminating research findings to the professional world is almost as important as contributing to the academic body of knowledge. FEWEB faculty members are therefore active in the professional world through participation in the FEWEB Postgraduate School, through collaborative research with a wide range of companies and firms, and by presentation of their findings to the relevant professional bodies, both nationally and internationally. Research questions may be focused on topics that are of professional interest.
In education the FEWEB highlights developing practical skills and integrating scientific knowledge in practice (the extent varies depending on the program). FEWEB students as Professionals are capable of applying their expert knowledge to solve professional problems in various types of organizations. In this process, input from society (representing market demand) figures in defining the ultimate requirements of the Professional. This approach facilitates the accession of FEWEB graduates to the labor market and their connection to needs in the industry, encompassing commercial and non-profit organisations, government, and professional service providers. Graduates may also enter these markets as (self-employed) entrepreneurs, as reflected in enhanced specialist expertise, particularly in the master’s and postgraduate programs. Imparting professional skills, including communication skills, is an important part of the program.
FEWEB students and staff are driven by a strong sense of social responsibility. This means paying attention to the contextual awareness, differentiated according to time and place. Societal impact is considered a valuable result of our research and related activities. We aim for these activities to benefit both the development of debate and policy implementation in business, government, and civil society. Faculty members are encouraged to contribute to the public debate. To this end, they conduct research on topics with a high societal impact, joining national and international think tanks or participating in government research projects. As a result, research faculty contribute significantly to societal development in a broad international and intercultural context.
Our graduates understand the social consequences of professional conduct. They are able to express and contribute responsibly to the societal developments, after cultivating this skill throughout the program by relating industry-specific content to social issues. Ethics is an important element here and is a priority within the program that builds citizenship.
The international and intercultural surroundings are an additional central focus. Familiarity with diversity in culture, nationality, ideology, or previous education provides a strong foundation for socially responsible conduct in a society that is becoming increasingly global and pluralistic. This leads to students able to critique and reflect on socially relevant issues from a field-specific perspective.
5 FEWEB Profile
It is the combination of these two dimensions, the content components Academic, Professional and Citizen at our core, continuously influenced by the behavioral components Responsible, Personal, and Open that leads to a unique profile of both FEWEB as a Faculty as well as students graduating from the Faculty, as depicted in the figure below.