A highlight of the European Values Conference 2022 was the farewell to Loek Halman. Loek, who has been part of the EVS community for decades, retired from Tilburg University in September 2021. Because public life in the Netherlands, alike most countries of the Western hemisphere, were hampered with COVID-19 restrictions, his close colleagues were unable to organize an appropriate farewell party to Loek at that time. The local organizing team (consisting of Ruud Luijkx, Quita Muis, Tim Reeskens and Inge Sieben) decided that the European Values Conference 2022 was the most suitable moment to celebrate Loek Halman and his contribution to European Values Study.
Preceding Loek’s farewell, the Dutch EVS team has secretly been working to bring together a so-called ‘Liber Amicorum’, a book of friends. For this book, they invited several EVS national program directors, Loek’s colleagues at Tilburg University, and his ‘compagnons de route’ to submit a chapter of approx. 3,000 words; the only request was to rely on EVS data or inspire the study of European values. In the end, 32 chapters and a preface by Wim van de Donk (Rector Magnificus at Tilburg University) were written around five main themes that reflect Loek Halman’s scholarly interest. First of all, several chapters discuss theoretical and methodological challenges in the study of values. A second line of research revolves around the sociology of religion. A third stream of papers presented comparative studies. Studies on the Netherlands composed the fourth part of the book. And last but not least, the final section presented additional country case studies.
Before the official presentation of the book, Inge Sieben opened the session by reflecting on the work and life of Loek Halman. Ruud Luijkx then continued to discuss the importance of Loek to the European Values Study. David Voas was invited to give a keynote lecture on the parental transmission of religiosity. David gave an inspiring lecture with an overview of decades of research into the socialization of religiosity, combining several of his recent insights and also bridging to the EVS and Loek’s research interests. Part of David’s presentation can also be retrieved in his chapter (coauthored with Ingrid Storm) in the Liber Amicorum. With a speech reflecting on Loek’s academic life, Wim van de Donk, Rector Magnificus at Tilburg University, presented the first copy of the Liber Amicorum, titled Reflections on European Values: Honouring Loek Halmans’ Contribution to the European Values Study, to Loek. Tim Reeskens then briefly gave an overview of the content of this book. Last but not least, Loek gave a speech in which he reflected on his academic life, with not only memories to the decades he was committed to the EVS, but also how the EVS inspired his teaching activities.
The farewell to Loek Halman then continued with informal drinks followed by a dinner at Tilburg University’s Faculty Club. All his colleagues, several dressed in checked shirt (to many this was Loek’s dress code), were eager to share fond memories with Loek. It was a great and inspiring day!
Both the Liber Amicorum Reflections on European Values: Honouring Loek Halman, dedicated to Loek Halman, and the Atlas of European Values: Change and Continuity in Turbulent Times, Loek’s final publication, are published in an Open Access format by Open Press TiU. The books can be downloaded and/or ordered from the website www.evseries.eu. Pictures of the conference can be retrieved from this link.