GIMA 20 years: a celebration of collaboration

On 1 February 2024, the 20th anniversary of the GIMA’s master programme was celebrated with a festive symposium at Utrecht University. The attendees consisted of GIMA alumni, students, (former) staff, and other interested parties. The programme was a mix of more and less serious topics. The chairman of the day was Ron van Lammeren, who had just celebrated his farewell at WUR the week before.

Firstly, Ron announced Kirsten de Beurs’ keynote on the future of geo-information education. Kirsten has now been back at WUR for about 1,5 years, after working in the US for twenty years. Based on this experience, she shared her insights for the future and related them to GIMA. Then it was time for the GIMA Facts Quiz by Lukasz Grus (WUR) and Carlijn Ligterink, where the visitors could remain standing and answer the questions correctly, with two answer options, until there was a winner, who received a nice prize. The fact that facts are not that simple was also evident in the third part of the programme: the presentation by Menno-Jan Kraak (UT) with appealing graphs and maps that illustrated twenty years of GIMA history.

After the break it was time to look at the future of GIMA in the panel discussion. Panel members Justine Blanford (UT), Kirsten de Beurs (WUR) and Niels van der Vaart (Esri) discussed among themselves and with the audience about possible future developments such as geo data science and AI, the added value of a joint MSc degree from the universities involved, the advantage for students of being taught by teachers from multiple universities, and about the statement that there should be a BSc in Geo-information in the Netherlands. Algan Yasar and Lara Gillham then indicated on behalf of the GIMA students the importance of the study association NODE for contacts with professional practice (internships) but also for activities such as a joint trip abroad. In the last formal programme part, Arnold Bregt (WUR) and Judith Verstegen (UU) worked together to make it clear why a joint degree is so important: a table on four legs is sturdy and does not fall over. The day ended with a pleasant ‘borrel’ with drinks and snacks, during which many memories were brought back.

Written by Peter van Oosterom (TUD), Chair GIMA Board (translated from Dutch)

Photography: Mother of Pearl Media

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