#MeTooAcademia: The Learning Curve

#MeTooAcademia: The Learning Curve

Harassment in academia is of all times, but it has been made urgent by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement. Many of us think academia will provide a safe, sensible and intellectual environment in which #MeToo behaviour is absent. Fortunately, it often is but evidently it sometimes isn’t. Through the play, Het Acteursgenootschap seeks to create awareness of harassment in academia – which tends to impact young researchers or support staff in particular – while also exploring individual and institutional ways to address these issues and create a safe working environment.

The Learning Curve is a 40-minute theatre play about sexual intimidation and abuse of power in the university context. It’s both humorous and bleak, and is written to be followed by a discussion led by a moderator. Different academic stakeholders and the audience can discuss what you can do if you find yourself, your colleagues or members of your team in such situations.

Developed from scenarios originally performed as #MeTooAcademia for the Dutch Network of Women Professors (LNVH), it has been specially commissioned in an expanded version by the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities (EGSH). The play is fictitious but is based on interviews recently published in Science Guide, as well as confidential interviews conducted in the Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR).

Suzanne De Jong is a talented second-year graduate student. When her promotor returns from sabbatical she’s delighted. The internationally renowned Professor Loek Roden is amusing, approachable and inspirational. But during a conference in Berlin Suzanne encounters a darker side of the famous academic. And when the great man doesn’t get his way the consequences for her become catastrophic. Where can she turn for help?

Expert Panel during the performance on the 12th of October, 2018.

  • Ingeborg van der Ven (MODERATOR)
    Journalist and former editor at ScienceGuide.nl
    In November 2017, Ingeborg started an investigation into experiences of (sexual) intimidation in academia. She conducted interviews with dozens of women, conducted policy research and had discussions with administrators and interest groups, which resulted in three piece article series on ScienceGuide.
  • Prof.dr. Victor Bekkers
    Dean Erasmus School for Social and Behavioral Sciences (ESSB)
    Chair Supervisory Board, Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities (EGSH)
  • Prof.dr. Hanneke Takkenberg
    Professor of Clinical Decision Making, Erasmus Medical Centre
    Chief Diversity Officer, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Prof.dr. Antoinette de Bont
    Professor of Health Care Management, Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management
  • Martin Blok
    Confidential counsellor, Erasmus University Rotterdam
  • Laurie Slegtenhorst
    PhD candidate at the Department of History at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC)
    PhD officer at the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE)

Duration: play (40 minutes), discussion (30-60 minutes)
Writer and director: Tony Maples
Actors: Suzanne Spliethoff, Loek van den Wijngaard and Elske Rollema
Moderator: Ingeborg van der Ven

ScienceGuide wrote a retrospective on the event
(Dutch article)


  • November 14th 2019 – University of Groningen
  • October 2nd 2019 – European Gender Summit, Quality Research and Innovation through Equality – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • July 8th 2019 – Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Juni 17th 2019 – Delft Women in Science – TU Delft
  • May 10th 2019 – University of Groningen
  • April 2nd 2019 – Eurodoc, Brussels, Belgium
  • February 11th 2019 – The Role of Leadership – Diversity & Inclusion Office – Erasmus MC Rotterdam
  • October 12th 2018 – Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities (EGSH) – Erasmus MC Rotterdam