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Hans van Ginkel has a strong interest in the application of geographical knowledge in society, in particular in urban and regional planning, public housing and housing markets, and public administration. From 1988 to 1993, he was independent Chairman of the Regional Council of Utrecht. He became a Board member of the Utrecht Network for Innovation and Economy (UNIE) in 1994. Prof. van Ginkel was appointed Chair of the Coordinating Committee of Advisory Councils on Science Policy (COS) in 1991 and a member of the National Foresight Committee on Science Policy (1993). From 1994 to 1998, he has been a member of the European Science and Technology Assembly (Bruxelles) and in 1997-1998 member of the National Council for Science and Technology Policy (AWT).
Having a strong interest in internationalization, Hans van Ginkel has contributed to numerous international organizations, for example, the governing board of the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation at Enschedé (President 1990-1998), the Board of the European Association of Universities (CRE, Vice-president 1994-1998), and the Board of the International Association of Universities (IAU, Vice-president, 1995-2000, President, 2000-2004). He was the Treasurer of the Netherlands Foundation for International Cooperation in Higher Education (NUFFIC) from 1986-1997. He also extended the cooperative links of Utrecht University towards Latin America (in particular, Costa Rica and Bolivia), Southern Africa and South-East Asia. In 1992, he became a member of the Governing Council of the United Nations University; in 1994 also of Unesco's Advisory Group for Higher Education and in 1996, member of the Steering Committee for Unesco's World Conference on Higher Education (Paris, 1998). In this last capacity he prepared and led among others the thematic debate on "Higher Education and Sustainable Human Development". He was appointed Rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo in 1997. Hans van Ginkel is an active author in his fields of interest. Since November 1997 he is a member and Vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the Asian Institute of Technology, AIT, Bangkok. Since July 2003, he is a member of the Governing Board of UNESCO-IHE in Delft and of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Social Sciences (ISS), The Hague.
In 1992, he was appointed to the Social Sciences Council of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In 1994, he received a Knighthood in the Order of the Netherlands' Lion from Queen Beatrix. He also holds the highest medals of distinction of the City of Utrecht, the Chamber of Commerce and Utrecht University. In 1997, he received an honorary doctorate from the Universitatea Babes-Bolyai of Cluj in Romania for his work in geography as well as internationalism. In May 2003 he received an honorary doctorate from State University of California (Sacramento). He has also received honorary doctorates from the University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana in 2005, the Technical University of Zvolen (Zvolen/Slovakia) in June 2006, and McMaster University, Ontario, Canada, in June 2007. In 2001 he was appointed a member of Academia Europaea. He is also a honorary fellow of ITC.
Hans van Ginkel is married to Bep Teepen. They have two children: son Auke and daughter Mapje.