our new doctoral school course is open for registrations!

Each year we organize an interuniversity doctoral school course on what it means to be a researcher in 21st century academia. We are especially proud to present the 9th edition! This edition will take place on 5, 11 and 12 May 2023.

A detailed program and more information can be found on the course website and of course on the Slow Science website.  

PhD students can obtain credits from the doctoral training programs of UGent, UAntwerp, VUB, KU Leuven, UCLouvain, and UHasselt, but we also welcome postdoctoral researchers and other university and university colleges staff. Note that there is a maximum capacity of 30 people, so don’t wait to get involved!

Feel free to spread the message and hopefully see you soon!

21st Century Slow Science Academics Collective

General description

Over the past few years, numerous scholars and university personnel have expressed concerns about research deontology and ethics, increasing publication pressure, mental well-being and the changing professional environment in which academics have to work. The urgency of these concerns was recently recognized by the Flemish government in its coalition agreement: “Research shows that the mental well-being of students in higher education, including PhD students, is under pressure. Special attention is paid to this.” In response, Belgian universities have expressed an interest in raising awareness among the academic population and pointed to the Doctoral Schools as a way of accomplishing this.

This course is an initiative of the ‘21st century slow science academics’ collective that aims to raise awareness and understanding of the structural causes of the challenges facing young researchers, and help them think about ways in which they can contribute themselves to improving the state of academia. In addition to considering the mental well-being of PhD students, the course also addresses the conditions in which researchers work today, which not only affect mental health, but also raise questions about quality, ethics, deontology, norms, conducting research itself and the relationship between science and society/democracy in general. 

The introductory morning aims to encourage participants to discuss and reflect on their own experiences as young researchers, and on the broader social, political and economic context of research. The first thematic session focuses on raising awareness for mental health. The following session focuses on knowledge production. The third session centres on a hands-on approach to tackling issues related to labour at the university, and what specific actions are undertaken within universities to improve people’s working conditions. During the afternoon of that day, participants are encouraged to use the critical insights from the previous sessions to arrive at concrete actions. The last session provides the opportunity to reflect on the entire course.

March “End Harassment at UGent”

Tonight, there will be a march to demand measures against harassment at UGent. The organizers have shared the following text:

“in 2020, a student was harassed by a PhD student at the Faculty of Science at UGent. she reported her case to trustpunt and was told by the ombudsdienst and tuchtcommissie that the perpetrator was sanctioned. a few months later, under pressure, rector Rik Van de Walle had to admit there was not given a sanction at all. the PhD student continues his work at UGent.

Ghent University claims to disapprove of sexual harassment and intimidating behaviour. yet, they don’t bother to protect their students.

we called for testimonies on harassment at UGent. in one week, we have gathered reports on 15 different people working at UGent.

all victims want to remain anonymous, fearing that speaking out will ruin their careers.


we demand:

📓. an external tuchtcommissie, so colleagues can’t protect each other

📓. a safe environment for whistle blowers

📓 transparency concerning the procedures and actions taken

📓. accountability for perpetrators

📓 zero tolerance for sexual intimidation and power abuse at UGent

📓 a university that protects our human integrity

15/2 18h30 STADSHAL

we will march to AULA to take back our university”

The Facebook-page of the event can be found here.

Slow Science & Sustainability: More than an amazing alliteration

Over the past year, our ‘foreign correspondent’ Sofia Pagliarin has contributed to this website through a series of interviews on themes such as the impact factor and the cultural hegemony of English in academia.

In the context of the University of Bamberg’s Sustainability Week she presented the links between the idea of sustainability to practices in contemporary academia. Though there are obvious issues ahead of us still, it is heartwarming to see scholars in other countries organizing around these common questions.

You can find Sofia’s presentation here.

What does it mean to be a researcher… 2019 Doctoral Course – Day 1

Last week, we held the first session of this year’s Inter-University Doctoral Schools Course (UGent/VUB/UAntwerpen/KULeuven) regarding the question ‘What does it mean to be a researcher in 21st century academia?’

Rather than starting from a predetermined programme and set of topics, we used open space technology (under the skilful guidance of Elvira) to allow the participants to come up with topics which they felt were relevant. Among other topics, we talked in small  groups about the tension between teaching and research, the “ivory tower”, decolonization, scientific method and objectivity, and mental health. Patricia Schor, who had kindly agreed to provide her own reflections based on the input provided by the participants, went from group to group to collect impressions. After the individual group sessions, we ended with a collective forum where the  groups informed each other about the points that had been discussed. Patricia Schor shared her impressions and thoughts.

We were very glad to see that the course had attracted a heterogeneous group of people, coming from different disciplines (both from the humanities and natural sciences) and from different backgrounds (both Belgian and international Phd-students). Because the format was based on the active participation of the attendants and because it allowed them to share their own experiences, we were able to get to know each other and create a positive group dynamic.

We are looking forward to the next sessions on april 25 and 26. We will keep you posted!

In the context of the course, we are also organizing a public debate. Those interested are more than welcome!

Ethics Week 2018 (VUB)

The first week of December, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel organizes an ‘Ethics Week‘ with a focus on research ethics. They explicitly invite people from the Slow Science Network to participate and/or share their critical questions. The topics discussed are:

Research Without Borders? Ethics of international research co-operation (4/12)

Soldiers in the laboratory? Military and civilian research (4/12)

Medical Ethics (5/12) 

Ethics, Human and Social Sciences (6/12) 

Ethics & Animal Testing (6/12)

Ethics and Valorisation of Research (7/12)




Action at arms lobby event (conference of the EDA)

In June this year, the Slow Science Network published an op-ed on the problematic nature of the influence of the military industry and the arms lobby on European policy, especially with regard to scientific research.

On November 29, Vredesactie will organise a non-violent action at the conference of the European Defence Agency. Vredesactie gives the following description of the action:

On 29 November, we will take nonviolent action at the conference of the European Defense Agency in Brussels. Arms dealers and policy makers meet behind closed doors and decide what the world of tomorrow will look like. Critical voices are not welcome.
We invite ourselves and enter the conference to make our voice heard.

Our politicians are outsourcing the security and migration policy to the arms industry. The results are appalling: the conference theme speaks for itself: ‘From unmanned to autonomous systems: trends, challenges and opportunities’. In other words: how can we make killer robots and deploy them in wars?

We will not let that happen overnight. Our future is at stake. We are going to the conference to make the case for a safe and peaceful Europe on a human scale, for sustainable solutions and good governance.

** Want to join or know more? **
Send a PM or an email to ikstopwapenhandel@vredesactie.be and we’ll send you more info soon.

More info about the arms lobby event: https://eda.europa.eu/info-hub/events/annual-conference-2018
More info about our campaign and actions to stop the arms trade: http://www.istopthearmstrade.eu/


25/2: Slow Science meetup & museum visit


To reinforce the ties that bind as well an enjoy an educational Sunday morning, the Slow Science network would like to invite you to join us in visiting to the ‘200 years Ughent: City and University’ at het STAM in Gent.


Texts, moving images and antique pieces from the university archive combine to tell a story about the interwoven fates of university and city. Though dedicated to Ghent University, you may find that many themes resonate with the history and experience of universities around the globe. Ever more, issues you may think of as uniquely contemporary may turn out to have a much longer historical legacy than expected…


After the visit, we will meet up again at the neighbouring STAM café for drinks. Lunch, good conversation and pleasant company guaranteed. You are most definitely welcome, as are your family and friends! 


Practical details

Date: 25th of februari from 10u to 14u

Location: STAM Gent (Godshuizenlaan 2, 9000 Gent, Belgium )

Entrance: Max 8 euro’s, 2 euro for those under 25, free of charge to Gent citizens



Universities, what are they good for? Find out on these December events!

The holiday period; time for rampant consumerism, with a sprinkling of gezelligheid* on top. Those unsatisfied with these merry times of blind happiness may be able to find more satisfaction in some hardcore reflection about the societal role of universities. There are no less than two (2!) events on this topic during the end of December.

The first event takes place on the 20th of December in Brussels, and is organized by the Flemish Interuniversity Council. Results of an impact study of Flemish universities will be presented to the public, and will be followed by a discussion and a reception. More information, such as the programme, can be found here. Signing up can be done here.

The second event is organized by the Ghent University and takes place all day on the 21st of December. The event is called ‘University for You’ and the programme and signup can be found here. Not happy with the definition of impact on the day before? This is the place to launch your own conceptualization!

*We may sometimes complain about how unwelcoming Flemish universities can be for people not fluent in Dutch, but some words you just have to learn. Very ongezellig of us, we know.

Debate 20/11: What might Belgian mutant plants mean for South-American communities?


Under the banner of promoting the ‘bio-economy’, scientists of the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (VIB) and Ghent University take part in a worldwide contest to genetically engineer trees in order to ease the conversion of wood into ‘biofuels’ or other products like plastics. Developers of genetically engineered (GE) trees claim these projects to contribute to a sustainable society.
Scientists are still very far from succeeding in making it happen; but if ever developed commercially, where are these trees going to be grown, to whose benefit, and what are the social and environmental impacts?

The everyday experience over the last decades of rural communities in South-America confronted with the expansion of tree plantations is very alarming. Already now, large scale tree plantations are resulting in land grabbing and land conflicts, soil depletion, disappearing biodiversity, large water uptake, enhanced use of pesticides, and forest fires. Apart from biosafety concerns, if GE trees are grown in the same way, this would only add to the social and environmental problems currently experienced. Another concern is that (broad) patent applications on GE trees, also by VIB, contribute to the privatisation of nature.

Promoting technology development to make tree-based commodities available for ever more expanding consumer markets, create moral dilemmas for the European and Belgian society, and for researchers in particular. What does it mean to live amongst monoculture tree plantations in South-America? What are the social and environmental impacts? How should these impacts be taken into account when public funding is allocated to new technology development? Are they taken into account in the GM poplar case? How do researchers engage with the dynamics of expanded commodity production and the concomitant challenges of sustainability and societal resilience? And, how can scientists work in solidarity with people around the globe?

A discussion with:

Hanne Cottyn, researcher Commodity Frontier Initiative at Ghent University
Ruben Vanholme, researcher at VIB Flemish Institute Biotechnology

Intro & Panel:

Nina Holland, Corporate Europe Observatory / Field Liberation Movement
Barbara Van Dyck, University of Sussex / Field Liberation Movement

Organizers: Field Liberation Movement, Commodity Frontiers Initiative, Research Group Economies, Comparisons, Connections Ghent University


(Source of this information, and more, can be found here.)

[NL]Meer weten over Wetenschappelijke Integriteit en/of Open Access?

Deze maand vinden twee evenementen plaats rond onderwerpen die in het verleden binnen onze Doctoral Schools Course aan bod kwamen.

Fraude en receptiehapjes

Het eerste evenement gaat over wetenschappelijke integriteit en vind plaats op 18 oktober in Brussel. Het geheel wordt georganiseerd door de Koninlijke Vlaamse Academie van België voor Wetenschappen en Kunsten. Oftewel, de KVAB. Deze stelt hiervoor zijn plechtstatige Paleis der Academiën voor open.

Wetenschapsfraude kwam de voorbije jaren behoorlijk wat in het nieuws, en werd als thema vaak gelinked aan een toegenomen competitie en publicatiedruk. Het is een gevoelig thema dat graag binnenskamers wordt gehouden. Intussen is daar enige verandering in gekomen, met officiële structuren zowel op het niveau van de universiteit als op Vlaams niveau.

Merk op dat de klemtoon hier ligt op wetenschapsfraude; is het onderzoek wel op een wetenschappelijke correcte manier uitgevoerd? De liefhebber van een breder debat over ethiek in de wetenschap zal hier wat op z’n honger moeten blijven zitten. De liefhebber van de betere receptiehapjes echter niet.

Meer info vind je op:


Open debat over open access


Het tweede evenement heeft betrekking op Open Access. Wie wil weten waar en wanneer het plaatsvindt legt best bovenstaande prent eens onder de microscoop. Het evenement is zowel geschikt voor mensen die de Green Road niet van de Gold Road naar Open Access kunnen onderscheiden, als voor mensen voor wie Open Access de bestaansreden geworden is. Je kan er zowel terecht voor heel wat praktische informatie, als inzicht in de meer structurele politieke, economische en juridische obstakels die dit ideaal in de weg staan. Bovendien vat men OA breder op louter het publiekelijk beschikbaar maken van afgewerkte papers. Ook andere thema’s komen aan bod, zoals Open Science (transparantie tijdens het proces, niet enkel bij het afgewerkte product) en Citizen Science (waarbij die rare mensen die normaal niet in onze ivoren toren komen ook betrokken worden). Of de receptiehapjes zo goed zijn als bij de KVAB is nog niet geweten, maar het programma ziet er alvast smakelijk uit. Allen daarheen!

Meer info vind je op: