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Scientia Fellows Interview: Elleke Landeweer

Elleke Landeweer is working in Norway on a two-year research project in medical ethics. The funding was sourced through Scientia Fellows.


Elleke Landeweer. Photo: UiO

Elleke Landeweer from the Netherlands is one of 72 postdoctoral fellows involved with the Faculty’s international postdoctoral programme, Scientia Fellows.

Professor Reidar Pedersen, who heads the project that Elleke is working for, chose to apply for funding through Scientia Fellows because he was looking for more international partners while also wanting to recruit new researchers and contribute to an important area which has been afforded relatively little attention in academia and clinical practice.

- We realised that this might enable us to reap rich rewards from modest means.

Elleke arrived in Norway only recently and we invited her for a chat about her ambitions and expectations.

Read more interviews with fellows and hosts at the Scientia Fellows programme!

– Why did you choose to apply for the position through Scientia Fellows?

- In 2013 I spent a month at the Centre for Medical Ethics (CME) as a visiting researcher. I was working on my PhD thesis at the time, about moral dynamics in psychiatry.

CME launched a major project in order to implement and evaluate the use of discussion as an intervention strategy in association with moral dilemmas in mental health services. One of Elleke’s supervisors, Bert Molewijk, was part of this project, and he suggested Scientia Fellows to her.

- The combination of my positive past experience of working at CME, and the opportunity to develop my own research programme, was crucial for my decision to apply.

– What is your current area of research?

Elleke’s PhD thesis focused on various factors within mental health and combined these with qualitative research on ethical analysis. She discovered that the role played by relatives is often found to be challenging.

- It is surrounded by a moral complexity which has been given insufficient attention within psychiatric ethics.

Elleke’s research project is also looking into the moral value of the family in psychiatry.

- We have insufficient knowledge of how to understand and validate the informal care provided by the psychiatric patients’ next of kin and other friends and relatives.

This care is different to that provided by professionals, but there is scope for cooperation and mutual benefit.

- I am also looking into what we know about how patients benefit from social networks, what value is added by family members who provide informal care, and the moral challenges and responsibilities involved.

– What are your expectations of your stay in Oslo?

- This is a great opportunity for me to acquaint myself with other experts in empirical ethics and philosophical analysis, and to discuss scientific theories.

– In addition to the academic benefits of working abroad, it is also a great opportunity to learn the Norwegian language and to familiarise myself with Norwegian culture.

Professor Reidar Pedersen says:

- We want to further develop our partnership with a talented researcher and her academic circles in the Netherlands, who are among the leading contributors to this field. We are currently co-writing articles as well as a major research application.

– How do you expect to utilise your Scientia Fellows experience in your further research career?

- I will be studying the latest research literature on my particular topic. I will also be drawing up theoretical and practical frameworks designed to improve cooperation between professional psychiatric carers and relatives who provide care for family members.

Her ambition is to develop a research programme in this area. She will be developing practical tools to assist families with handling moral dilemmas. She will also need to find additional funding for further research.

- In the longer term, I wish to be able to establish my own research team and to set up a training programme focusing on the family and the ethics of care.

– What is your advice to other potential Scientia Fellows applicants?

- The Scientia Fellows programme gives you an excellent opportunity to progress your own postdoctoral specialty in academia, to gain international experience and advance towards a senior position. Even if your application is rejected, the writing of the submission is in itself a useful experience.

– So far, what has surprised you in Norway?

Elleke tells us that many things in Norway are similar to the way things are in the Netherlands, even if there are some minor differences.  The working hours are a bit different. People start on time, have their lunch before dinner and leave the office earlier. Their eating habits are also a bit different.

- For example, my colleagues will often have fish out of a tin and spread this on their bread. This is something I’ve never encountered in the Netherlands. But what has surprised me the most in Norway, are the gorgeous surroundings. Oslo has a beautiful light during the day, particularly when it’s sunny, and spectacular views and fabulous countryside near to town.

Read more interviews with fellows and hosts at the Scientia Fellows programme!

By Thomas Olafsen
Published Mar. 11, 2016 12:01 PM - Last modified Feb. 9, 2022 12:07 PM