Bildung is all about gaining a better view of the bigger picture, both of yourself as an individual and of the society in which you live
Bildung is important because man and society can only function well when they are aware of the fundamental aspects of existence simultaneously: the physical and the spiritual, the individual and the collective. In contrast to the academic, reductionist science in which it is all about knowing more and more about less and less, Bildung is thus precisely about gaining more insight into the greater whole, both of yourself as an individual and of the society in which you live.
This orientation to the bigger picture also has moral significance. It is synonymous with human dignity and with "sustainability. Today's social problems are therefore solvable only when not only reductionist zooming in, but also zooming out to the coherence of the larger whole. The 21st century university does not only the former, but both.
Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability and bildung lecturer at the Semester Program
As (emeritus) professor of Environmental Studies and Sustainability, I am still active within Utrecht University, particularly in the field of the philosophical, cultural and financial-economic aspects of sustainability. In addition, I am affiliated with the Sustainable Finance Lab, which focuses on the reform of the financial system. I am also still involved in the Nature College.
Previously, I served as director of RIVM-environment and the (later) Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL). I was also a crown member of the Social and Economic Council (SER).
I was trained as a Wageningen Food Technologist (at a time when environmentalists did not yet exist)