Desmond Tutu Chair

Youth, Sport and Reconciliation

The Desmond Tutu chair, ‘Youth, Sport and Reconciliation’, was founded in 2007 to commemorate the visit by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. The university wishes to honour Desmond Tutu’s lifelong and peaceful efforts for a fairer society, all over the world, through the establishment of the chair. Tutu is an international symbol for peace and reconciliation as a result of his unremitting battle against apartheid, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984, and his chairmanship of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa.


The chair has led to the development of the Desmond Tutu Programme (DTP), which is aimed at strengthening academic collaboration between VU Amsterdam and its six partner institutes in South Africa. The DTP-based collaboration consists of the following:

  • joint supervision of South African PhDs;
  • performing academic research;
  • encouraging student exchanges at Master’s and Bachelor’s level.

The programme is coordinated by SAVUSA (South Africa – VU Amsterdam – Strategic Alliances).


VU Amsterdam has maintained relations with South Africa for more than 125 years, and hopes to further strengthen scientific cooperation between the Netherlands and South Africa with the Desmond Tutu Programme and the five chairs.

The VU Amsterdam Desmond Tutu chair of Youth, Sport and Reconciliation will be occupied by five professors from different faculties for a period of five years. The SBE representative is:

WhoProfessorInaugural lecture
Elbers, ChrisChris Elbers will concentrate on the fight against poverty and development.14-10-2009 (in Dutch)

Teaching and research

Professor Chris Elbers studied econometrics and mathematical economics at the University of Amsterdam, and obtained his Master’s at VU Amsterdam. Since 1984, he has been a member of the Development Research Group in the economics department. His most important research activities are in the field of poverty measurements and effect evaluation.

Inaugural lecture

Chris Elbers’s research activities in the Desmond Tutu Programme will cover poverty and anti-poverty programmes at the micro level of individuals and households, paying particular attention to opportunities for young people. This could entail both contributions to poverty measurements and evaluations of possible inequalities of the effects of anti-poverty programmes.

In 'Op zoek naar de juiste maat' (Looking for the right measure) professor Elbers emphasises the need for sound empirical research in development economics and related policy recommendations. Too often, policy is made based on largely theoretical assumptions, whereas empirical research should not be omitted.