A group of students from the University of Leiden founded the VeerStichting in 1978. The purpose of setting up the foundation was to promote the debate between students and the so-called ‘designers of society’. That idea of promoting interaction between different generations still forms the foundation of the now illustrious VeerStichting. This takes place through a symposium with national and international top speakers.
The bringing together of different generations is central. Not only do these meetings take place among top speakers from several disciplines and great thinkers from other branches of sport; it also revolves around connections between different generations, through which fresh new ideas can be created. From students of applied physics to legal scholars; from CEOs to artists, they spend two days bursting to share everything they have.
Since its inception, the VeerStichting has grown into an annual two-day symposium that takes place in Leiden. Participants include 250 students from all Dutch and Flemish universities and 250 ‘designers’ from the worlds of business, politics, science, interest groups, sports and the arts. It is a platform where ambitious young students have an opportunity to come into contact with those who have already made a substantial contribution to society, and vice versa. Through the high level of both speakers and participants, this gathering is a source of energy and inspiration that often results in innovative insights for everyone. This is a meeting of current leaders and the leaders of the future, and provides opportunities to build bridges between different generations.
With lectures and interludes that challenge the way the participants think about human behaviour and society as a whole. The symposium is all about exchanging visions and ideas. Philosophical themes, in which humanity, organisations and society overlap, are central. The themes reflect upcoming trends and stimulate participants into lively discussions, which ensures the very special atmosphere and sense of openness.
The symposium may be characterized by the open and relaxed atmosphere in which the emphasis lies on the participants’ own contribution. The board invites a set of national and international speakers who provide their insights and ideas on the theme during the plenary sessions. During the lectures, seminars, and intermezzi the exchange of ideas and personal experiences form a key element. Traditionally, the plenary sessions, drinks, and dinner are set at the Saint Peter’s Church in Leiden.
Subjects at the cutting edge of humanity, organisations and society are discussed at the symposium. Topics often cover subjects that the participants do not consider on a daily basis, but with which they are still regularly confronted.
Traditionally the participants are divided into two equal groups: 250 students and 250 non-students participate during the conference. In order to guarantee a high level of discussion and participation, non-students are invited by the board on a personal basis. Participants are drawn from a diverse set of backgrounds. Non-students are collectively referred to as ‘those who shape our society’: they include policy-makers, business men, scientists, politicians, journalists, and artists. Students are selected on the basis of their essay. The Board aims to gather a diverse body of students to guarantee a well-rounded discussion. The encounter between young and old and between many different points of view has proved to be a refreshing and inspiring experience. At the conference, subjects that are discussed lie at the intersection of organizations, society and the individual. The themes tend to deal with the kind of theoretical ideas that confront the participants from time to time rather than with problems of daily working life.