As the New Year dawns,
We would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for the confidence you have shown us during the past year.
All of us at the External relations Department join in wishing you a prosperous New year.
Director of External relations Department
Restructuring and stimulating regional studies at ULB
ULB has five multidisciplinary research centres that study specific regions of the world, and offering valuable pools of expertise that can improve the University's relationship with institutions in other areas of the globe. These are:
- Founded over 50 years ago, the Institute for European Studies (IES) is the oldest and the most renowned; it has gathered a pool of expertise on all countries in Europe, as well as on Europe's position and institutions throughout the world.
- Created in 2014, the Observatory of Arab and Muslim Worlds (OAMW) conducts teaching, research, and dissemination activities on countries in the Maghreb, Mashriq, Gulf, and Near East areas, as well as a in large part of sub-Saharan Africa.
- The EASt (East Asian Studies) institute was created in 2016 and acts as an incubator at ULB for high-level research on East Asia.
- AmericaS was created in 2017 and builds on ULB's long tradition for research on North and Latin America; its purpose is to reflect on the common ground that unites the various components of the American continent.
Also created in 2017, Afric@ULB is a multidisciplinary research network on Africa that gathers the hundred ULB researchers whose work is related to the African continent.
The purpose of these five centres for regional studies is to launch and promote interdisciplinary collaborations that can help understand the environments and dynamics at play in these regions of a rapidly-evolving and increasingly globalised world. They also help ULB better target and deploy its internationalisation strategies.
For more information, please visit:
- pour l'IEE: www.iee-ulb.eu/fr
- pour OMAM: msh.ulb.ac.be/equipes/omam
- pour EASt: msh.ulb.ac.be/equipes/east
- pour AmercicaS: msh.ulb.ac.be/equipes/americas
- pour Afric@ULB: africulb.ulb.be
ULB, a socially active university
For the past two years, the University has been offering support to students and researchers who are migrants, refugees, or whose freedom of speech, thought, and research has been restricted in their home countries.
In the Middle Ages, universities were places where intellectuals under threat could seek refuge. ULB is keeping this tradition alive during troubled times where academic freedom is in jeopardy in many countries across the world. The University believes that it has a moral duty to help researchers who are in danger, and this is why it has been mobilising considerable resources in order to support students and researchers who are migrants, refugees, or whose freedom of speech, thought, and research has been restricted in their home countries.
In twenty months, ULB has granted 14 post-doctoral fellowships to Syrian, Turkish, and Iraqi researchers. With its solidarity fund, ULB now has the means to provide long-term support for researchers who are threatened in their home countries and who can no longer work freely, whether because their freedom has been restricted or because they have been threatened for the content of their research or the opinions they have expressed.
In addition to this initiative, the University has created a structure in which researchers are given a proper reception and are well taken care of, both by their research centres and by the administrative staff. The International Welcome Desk is there to help fellows with all procedures: apply for a visa or a residence permit, obtain health insurance, open a bank account, find housing, apply for a family reunification visa, enrol their children in school, apply for a family allowance, contact a social worker, get psychological support, etc. Each of these could otherwise be an unsurmountable obstacle for a vulnerable person living in a state of constant uncertainty about their future and their family's.
In 2016, ULB opened a Welcome Desk for Refugees, helping each refugee student in their administrative procedures before, during, and after their enrolment at ULB. In the first year after the service was launched, 42 students have called upon this service in order to complete their enrolment. The Welcome Desk can help students find housing, apply for scholarships, and enrol in French or English classes. ULB's Translation and Interpreting Department also provides, with support from the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie, valuable classes in cultural integration and French as a foreign language.
In addition, thanks to funds offered by the King Baudouin Foundation, the Odysseus academic network offers 10 scholarships to refugee students, who can attend the summer course on EU immigration and asylum law and policy.
ULB students themselves have helped, too: starting in October, 2015, while many asylum seekers were waiting for a room in a refugee centre, students joined the refugee support movement and created an association, 'ULB Students with Refugees'. They arranged for rooms in volunteer participants' homes, and helped 300 refugees find shelter at the Centre d'action laïque. With the help of non-profits, attorneys, and academics, a group of law students also started offering legal counselling services for refugees, including outside the foreigners' office in Brussels. This initiative led to the creation of a law clinic, which was integrated into the Faculty of Law's curriculum and where students—under the supervision of professors—provide legal advice to refugees and asylum seekers.
Lastly, because a university can also contribute to integrating refugees in Brussels' social fabric, the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences has launched—at the initiative of dean Andréa Réa—a project intended to create tools to raise awareness of issues related to migration and the 'refugee crisis' (video clips, teaching resources for secondary schools, etc.).
On all inter-university platforms, such as ARES, ULB has been encouraging other institutions to develop similar initiatives: 'It is essential that other institutions follow in our footsteps,' says Rector Yvon Englert. 'Ours can only be a symbolic action, given the huge number of researchers in need. This is why we encourage others to also open their doors to refugee researchers.'
EOS programme: ULB involved in 22 projects
Belgium's FNRS has just published the list of projects that will be supported by the Excellence of Science (EOS) programme. ULB is involved in 22 of the 38 projects selected, including 5 projects that it coordinates.
Belgium's FNRS has just published the list of research projects that will receive support from the Excellence of Science (EOS) programme. This new four-year research programme is funded by F.R.S.-FNRS for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and by FWO for the Flemish community; its total budget is around 120 million euros.
With the EOS programme, research groups from the country's two linguistic communities can work together on joint projects dealing with fundamental research in all scientific disciplines.
For the 2017 campaign, 38 projects were selected from the 269 applications sent. ULB researchers contribute to 22 of these projects, including 5 which they are in charge of.
Remembering the Great War in Brussels
Some three years after commemorations began for the hundredth anniversary of World War I, the Brussels Studies Institute is publishing a retrospective analysis of the activities that were held in Brussels.
Several researchers from ULB's Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Psychology and Education have taken part in the study. They looked into the commemorative events in Brussels, what topics they tackled, who organised them, how they were funded, and what their effects were on the public.
One of the main takeaways of these events is that the Brussels-Capital region is emerging as having a major role in memorial celebrations. Other entities, whether at the federal, regional, or municipal level, as well as the civil society, have also held their own events around the capital, often jointly but sometimes concurrently.
Most events in Brussels dealt with one of two topics: everyday life in Brussels during the war, and Belgium's place within the global war. The study highlights the fact that the past has often been used as a tool to promote cohesion and integration, encourage debates and reflections on topical issues such as refugees, everyday life in an occupied country, perceptions of homosexuality, etc. This diverse commemoration reflects the diversity of Brussels.
Lastly, researchers have noted that the public reappropriates, to an extent, memorial events and therefore part of its own history. They call for a more direct and original dialogue between researchers and the public.
A record-breaking year, with over 28,000 students enrolled
For the 2017-2018 academic year, ULB has welcomed more students than ever before across all fields of study and recorded a 21% increase in first-generation student enrolment (students who had never been enrolled in a higher education programme). On November 16, ULB had 28,316 students in total, 7% more than the previous year; nearly one in every three students at ULB is from outside Belgium.
This means ULB's student population reflects Brussels' international identity as well as the University's attractiveness. In total, over 130 countries are represented across the University's various campuses.
"We realise that students seek out information before applying to university, especially from their peers",explains Rector Yvon Englert. "The fact that students have massively chosen ULB indicates that their predecessors have offered positive feedback, which in turn means our staff is performing well. This is the result of a university-wide process whose purpose is to provide the best support possible and to help students reach success. The study we have conducted recently on the future of our graduates has demonstrated that our programmes are very sought after on the job market, which is a definite plus."
While ULB is seeing record number of students, it also intends to offer them a high level of education and support: half of all classes are given to groups of 50 students or fewer, while 75% of classes have 75 students or fewer. Library and Learning Centres (LLC) are developing very quickly, and more and more classes are offered in multiple languages.
In addition, ULB responded to the increase in enrolment numbers by taking the necessary steps to develop its student support programmes by hiring additional staff.
A new MOOC at ULB: "Innovation Strategy: Challenging the Usual Suspects"
Manuel Hensmans, professor of strategy and innovation at the Solvay Brussels School, helps students develop their knowledge of innovation and its related challenges, with a new MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) entitled "Innovation Strategy: Challenging the Usual Suspects".
In this class, students will gain insight into the challenges of open innovation, management innovation, and emerging platforms and markets, and learn how to overcome these challenges in a long-term perspective. With quizzes, the latest scientific literature, case studies from groundbreaking companies, and lively debates with renowned experts, students can develop their knowledge of innovation.
> In practice:
4 weeks, 3 hours per week, free online classes in English.
Register before January 28, 2018
More information at: www.futurelearn.com/courses/innovation-strategy
University and society
ULB against sexism and harassment at university
Some months ago, ULB launched a reflection process on the problem of sexism and sexual harassment at university. It has now resulted in a project for action and awareness, along with a website. The project's goal is to fight all forms of sexism and harassment within ULB, whether the victims are men or women, straight or LGBTI+, students or academic, teaching, or research staff. It has 5 main components:
- Raise awareness of various forms of sexism and harassment—based on sexual orientation, social status, etc. - through a campaign on campus, featuring 15 posters that have already been displayed in a number of areas;
- Remove obstacles that could prevent victims from speaking out and finding help;
- Improve the support offered to victims and witnesses by designating contacts in each faculty;
- Reinforce the existing statutory and disciplinary framework. To this end, on November 13, ULB's Board of Governors approved proposed amendments to disciplinary regulations on discriminatory behaviour; this protects not only members of the university community, but also any person taking part in an activity organised by ULB as well as any visitor or external partner;
- Take stock of the perception and prevalence of sexism and sexual violence at ULB.