For the final episode of Research in Reach’s first season, Marco and Erik road-tripped all the way to Leuven, to talk with Liesbeth De Strooper. Liesbeth is an art historian and cultural economist. She likes her research topic so much that she is certain it’ll never tire. Despite this passion, it was not what enticed her to start a PhD—the teaching at university lured her into a career in academia and she feels her classes come closest to acting in front of an audience, without actually being an actor. She likes to make people laugh and make students enthusiastic about art history. We can attest to this, Liesbeth’s classes were a sunny break on tedious-classes days.
After a thorough recap on Impressionism, the three end up in a deep conversation about the essence of academia. Liesbeth admits to the slight ivory-tower-ness of her research, but the humanist side of her does not necessarily deem this to be a problem. Should universities prepare students for the job market, or should academia produce knowledge for knowledge’s sake? Listen to the final episode and shape your own opinion.