van Ginkel is a social scientist with special interest in the application of geographical knowledge in society. He was rector, UNU, Tokyo, Japan and Under Secretary-General of the UN 1997-2007; longest serving Dutch univ. rector, Utrecht Univ., 1986-97; and member, Social Sciences Council, KNAW, 1990-98. His interests include urban and regional planning, public housing, housing markets and public administration. He has prepared and led thematic debates on higher education and sustainable human development. He is a member of Academia Europea; KNAG and hon. fellow, Intl. Training Ctr. for Geo-Info. Sciences and Remote Sensing, ITC, Enschede. He received a Knighthood, Order of the Netherlands Lion, 1994; Order of the Rising Sun, Grand Cordon, Japan, 2007; and 5 hon. doctorates (Cluj, Rumania; Sacramento-Cal., USA; Accra, Ghana; Zvolen, Slovakia; Mc.Master, Canada). He is board chair, Inst. of Social Sciences, ISS, The Hague, and board chair, German Ctr. for Dev. Research, ZEF, Bonn.