Previous editions

2019

The edition of 2019 has taken place on the following days:

  • Thursday April 4th
  • Thursday April 25th
  • Friday April 26th

General description

Over the past few years, numerous scholars and university personnel have raised their concerns about research deontology, increasing publication pressure and the changing professional environment in which academics have to work. Cases of scientific fraud such as that of Diederik Stapel in the Netherlands, suspended in 2011 by Tilburg University, caused quite a stir within the academic community. Stapel was exposed for fabricating and manipulating data for research publications, a malpractice that was apparently going on for years. The scope of Stapel’s case may have been an exception. However, in March 2013, the Belgian scientific magazine EOS revealed in a study that 1 out of 12 researchers admitted to manipulating data sometimes in order to cope with the increasing pressure to publish. Even where publication pressures don’t necessarily lead to malpractice, they play a decisive role in determining what topics are addressed and what kinds of questions are asked. This situation obviously raises serious questions about ethics, deontology, norms, the conduct of research itself, and the relationship between science and society/democracy in general. 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.

Yet, while pertinent, raising awareness among young scholars cannot be reduced to a condemnation of individual practices alone. It is important to situate and contextualize these cases of individual malpractice within a broader context of academic internationalization and the position of local research institutions and universities in an increasingly global and competitive environment. The seminars and debate organized in this course – titled “What does it mean to be a researcher in the 21st century?” – address these broader questions. The course sets out to raise awareness among researchers not only of their individual obligations and role within academic institutions, but also of the broader context of the research environment in which they try to build a career. This course answers the structural need for thorough deontological, ethical and socio-political self-reflection about the changing role of academic knowledge and academics in our current society.

Program Sessions

Session 1: Thursday 4 April 2019

1.30 pm – 4.30 pm: Introductory afternoon

(Universiteit Antwerpen, Stadscampus, Building A, 107)

Open space session

  • Round table discussion (panellists to be confirmed)

The aim of this first session is to introduce the students to the problematic nature of current-day academic life. Participants will reflect on their own position in academia during an open space session, and a roundtable discussion with the invited speakers and the organizers of the course.

A broad range of topics related to academic work will be addressed: mental health and wellbeing, publication strategies, challenges of particular research environments, visions on the relationship between research, education and society, etc… Participants are encouraged to reflect on ways in which academia could be organized and developed differently to the benefit of all. At the end of the session, they will be provided with relevant reading materials in order to prepare for the next sessions.

Session 2: Thursday 25 April

10 am – 1 pm: Publish and/or perish and financing higher education

(KU Leuven, campus Brussels, Hermes 3, 6303)

  • Jon Tennant
  • Reine Meylaerts 

Over the last decade, the Flemish government has urged Flemish universities to use bibliometric data as objective, quantifiable and repeatable measures to review the quality of research activities. Advocates of this strategy are convinced that publications in international journals with high impact factors are good indicators of the quality of academic research. Yet, others are afraid that the tendency to publish in English and in academic journals will hamper the role of science in the society at large. In this session, we ask the students to reflect upon their publication strategies and the research climate in which they are developed. Topics that will be discussed include the politics of indexing and ranking, the politics of internationalization and the politics of performance measurement.

2.30 pm – 5.30 pm: Gender and diversity

(KU Leuven, campus Brussels, Hermes 3, 6303)

  • Nellie Konijnendijk 

Diversity has been a part of policy jargon for years. However, too often ‘classical’ policy practices have yielded limited results when it comes to ameliorating the position of specific groups –women, ethnic minorities, disadvantaged economic classes– in university, failing to address existing intricate intersecting power relationships and inequalities. This session aims to dissect the basic assumptions underlying the term ‘diversity’ and the ways in which it neglects to address structural causes of subordination by veiling interpersonal and institutional mechanisms which (re)produce power imbalances. Concentrating on how the relations between social identities and their associated competences inform power relations between actors, we aim to formulate ways of countering inequality in its multi-layered forms. We will discuss reflections and tactics that have come out of feminist intersectional and interference thinking, as well as out of recent struggles against the Eurocentric foundations of global academia.

Nellie Konijnendijk will discuss the following:

“Implicit bias and the consequences for academic careers

By now, there is fast body of knowledge on how to detect implicit bias and what the consequences can be if we do not account for it. To understand the effects of bias we need to understand the concepts that affect the way we interact in universities and how we deal with issues like diversity, inclusions, resistance and intersectionality. In this workshop, we will address these topics and the key studies that explain the effects of implicit bias and where it can hurt academic careers. The main goal is to discuss where and how we can do better and exclude the effect implicit bias can have on important decisions so that the university can move towards a true meritocracy.”

7.00 pm – 9.00 pm: Debate ‘University, Sustainability and Transition’

(VUB, Muntpunt, Literair Salon S1, Munt 6, 1000 Brussel)

In order to broaden the discussion and allow stakeholders and others from outside academia to participate in the conversation, we will have a public debate . In line with last year’s debate (https://www.deburen.eu/magazine/2269/een-oefening-in-opstand), we co-organise the debate with a Brussels-based organisation and focus on a timely topic which links the concerns discussed in the doctoral course with broader societal issues.

The weekly actions of the so-called ‘klimaatspijbelaars’ have put the issue of climate change and the lack policy measures proportionate to the problems at hand firmly on the table again. In this year’s debate, we will look at the role that the universities can and should play in addressing the challenges posed by climate change.

More info can be found here. A longer description of the issues that will be discussed, can be found here.

Friday 26 April

9.30 am – 12.30: Academia and society

(Universiteit Gent, Campus Mercator, A 1.04)

  • Omar Jabary Salamanca
  • Sigrid Vertommen
  • Shiri Shalmy

Is the production of knowledge a political act? Can political action be an integral part of the academic act? When one thinks about ‘science’, one often associates it with hard evidence, objectivity (the preclusion of subjective observations and interpretations) and the formulation of falsifiable hypotheses and theories. However, facts are made, knowledge is produced. This act of production cannot be decoupled from power. Few people will of course deny that knowledge is produced and that “knowledge is power”. However, the crucial questions at hand are: power for whom?; power exercised by whom?; and finally, to what end? How do we deal with the relationship between knowledge and the existing power hierarchies that structure society? Is it our duty to question that relationship? To decouple knowledge from hegemonic power? Does this imply that we take sides and try to see the world through the eyes of the oppressed and the dispossessed? Does this imply that we consciously act against the ideological and institutional practices and structures that reproduce these power hierarchies? And how do we accomplish this? Critical scholars and scholar-activists emphasize that a critical process of knowledge production is shaped by a critical engagement with society. This does not simply mean that critical theorists have preferences and opinions about society, but rather that they seek to achieve a unity of theory and practice.

1.30 pm – 4.30 pm: Action training ‘Another university is possible’

(Universiteit Gent, Campus Mercator, A 1.04)

  • VredesActie

In this closing session we connect all the main questions raised in the previous sessions and in the debate, and integrate them into a crucial discussion on ‘how another science/university is possible’. First, students will be asked to form groups and think of an action or campaign, which will be presented to the other participants. The participants can draw upon Vredesactie’s experience in teaching and mediating workshops on organization in order to develop and further concretize their idea.

2018

The 2018 edition has taken place on 19, 20, 23 & 24 April.

 

Program Sessions

Session 1: Publish and/or perish? – Thursday 19 April 2018, 10:00-13:00Venue: Justus Lipsiuszaal, Faculteit Letteren, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21, KU Leuven

Over the last decade, the Flemish government has urged Flemish universities to use bibliometric data as objective, quantifiable and repeatable measures to review the quality of research activities. Advocates of this strategy are convinced that publications in international journals with high impact factors are good indicators of the quality of academic research. Yet, others are afraid that the tendency to publish in English and in academic journals will hamper the role of science in the society at large.

In this session, we ask the students to reflect upon their publication strategies and the research climate in which they are developed. Topics that will be discussed include the politics of indexing and ranking, the politics of internationalization and the politics of performance measurement.

  • Nick Schuermans: On the topic of publish or perish

Bio: Nick Schuermans is a postdoctoral researcher and teaching associate at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is the day-to-day coordinator of the interdisciplinary research program on Cities and Newcomers and a lecturer in the Erasmus Mundus MSc 4CITIES and the Msc Geography master’s degree programs. His current research builds upon his interest in the geographies of encounter and solidarity, and focuses on the role of diverse groups of professionals in the accommodation of newcomers in the city of Brussels.

  • Freek Van Deynze: On the topic of publish or perish in the particular Flemish context

Bio: Freek Van Deynze is a PhD. Student at the Center of Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG). In his research he investigates the changing place of the university in society, and what this means for those working inside 21st century academia, more specifically with regards to doctoral education in Flanders. He will address these issues in his presentation, pointing out the linkages between personal experiences and broader sociological trends.

Session 2: Financing higher education in Belgium: the allocation model – Thursday 19 April 2018, 14:15-17:15Venue: Justus Lipsiuszaal, Faculteit Letteren, Blijde-Inkomststraat 21, KU Leuven
  • Koenraad Debackere: On the topic of the allocation model

Bio: Koenraad Debackere  is a professor of Technology and Innovation Management & Policy at KU Leuven since 1995. He has degrees in engineering and business. He was a visiting doctoral student and Fulbright post-doctoral fellow at MIT Sloan School and obtained best paper awards from the TIM Division of the American Academy of Management, the Decision Sciences Institute and the International Association for the Management of Technology. In 2006 he was awarded the Prize for Scientific Excellence of the Belgian Entreprise Foundation (VBO). In 2007 he received an honorary professorship from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex. He is the managing director of KU Leuven Research & Development and chairman of the KU Leuven seed fund, Gemma Frisius. He is cofounder and chairman of Leuven.Inc, the innovation network of Leuven high-tech entrepreneurs. Since 2005, he is the general manager of KU Leuven. In 2015, he was appointed chairman of EIT Health e.V. — a KIC of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology.

  • Ignace Lemahieu: On the topic of the university policies related to the allocation model

Bio: Professor doctor Ignace Lemahieu currently acts as Director of the Research Department (Vice-Rector Research) at Ghent University. He holds a Doctoral degin Physics and was Professor of Medical Image Processing and head of the MEDISIP research group at Ghent University until he became Director of the Research Department in 2003. As Vice-Rector Research, his responsibilities extend across the Technology Transfer Office, the University Library and the Research Coordination Office. He contributed to setting up Ghent University’s Doctoral Schools, is a steady supporter of Open Science. Professor Lemahieu is a member of the Executive Committee of the Flemish Council for Science and Innovation (VRWI), Board member of the Flemish Research Funding Organisation for investment in RI (Hercules Foundation), member of the Board of Directors of the RTO iMinds, member of the General Assembly of the RTO VIB, member of the Board of Trustees of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) and member of the Research Commission of the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR).

Session 3. Mental Health, Hypermobility and Precarity – Friday 20 April 2018, 10:00-13:00 – Venue: Lokaal A1.04 (Mercator A-gebouw), Abdisstraat 1, Gent

Increasingly, universities in Europe have been alarmed about rising levels of mental illness amongst academics amid the pressure of job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketed higher education system. More and more studies document how demands for increased productivity, stress over student satisfaction surveys and research output causes symptoms of psychological distress, anxiety and depression. Yet, because of the persistent vision of ‘if you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t be here’, there is a continuing stigma amongst academia over seeking help to counter reduced well-being. In this session we debate on the personal costs of academic success and on the general ‘culture of acceptance’ around well-being in higher education. The discussion includes experiences of not only lectures but also students, administrative and other university staff and also aims to approach these issues in a broader context of the impact of current tendencies in academia. Furthermore we expand on this topic by highlighting the effect of hypermobility requirements for research and job precarity.

  • Ingeborg Meijer: On the topic of mental health

Bio: Ingeborg Meijer is a part-time researcher and leader of the working group SURe (Society Using Research) at the Centre for Science and Technology Studies (CWTS) of Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her research focuses on the societal use of research, especially the development of proxies, tools and indicators, to help in research assessment purposes. Together with i.e. her colleague Inge Van der Weijden, she recently published about mental health issues in doctoral students in the Netherlands (for more information, see Van der Weijden I., Van Gelder E., Meijer I., Van der Ven I., Beukman J.J. & Farzand Ali R. (2017), Continu in de stress: Mentale problemen bij promovendi, (4): 80-84).).

  • Yannis Tzaninis: On the topic of hypermobility and precarity in academia

Bio: Yannis Tzaninis is a social geographer and activist. He has been involved in several political movements, including the assemblies that sprang from the UvA Maagdenhuis occupation in 2015. The occupation formed part of a movement for a more democratic university and contested the increasing marketization of higher education and the increasing reliance on managerialism to run (public) universities.

Session 4: Gender and Diversity at University – Friday 20 April 2018, 14:15-17:15 – Venue: Lokaal A1.04 (Mercator A-gebouw), Abdisstraat 1, Gent

Diversity has been a part of policy jargon for years. However, too often ‘classical’ policy practices have yielded limited results when it comes to ameliorating the position of specific groups –women, ethnic minorities, disadvantaged economic classes– in university, failing to address existing intricate intersecting power relationships and inequalities. This panel aims to dissect the basic assumptions underlying the term ‘diversity’ and the ways in which it neglects to address structural causes of subordination by veiling interpersonal and institutional mechanisms which (re)produce power imbalances.

Concentrating on how the relations between social identities and their associated competences inform power relations between actors, we aim to formulate ways of countering inequality in its multi-layered forms. We will discuss reflections and tactics that have come out of feminist intersectional and interference thinking, as well as out of recent struggles against the Eurocentric foundations of global academia.

  • Evelien Geerts: On the topic of intersectionality, situated knowledges and feminist philosophy

Bio: Evelien Geerts is a Ph.D. candidate in Feminist Studies with a DE in History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an affiliated researcher at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University. She previously studied at Antwerp University (MA Philosophy), Utrecht University (research MA Gender & Ethnicity Studies) and AMS (MSC Global Management), and works on the crossroads of Continental philosophy and contemporary feminist theory. Her research interests include new feminist materialisms, difference philosophies, epistemology and political philosophy, and critical and diffractive pedagogies.

  • Omar Jabary Salamanca: On Slow Science, Guerrilla Intellectuals and the Undercommons

Bio: Omar Jabary Salamanca is FWO research fellow and lecturer in the Department of Conflict and Development at Ghent University. He is also research associate at the Observatoire des Mondes Arabe et Musulman at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He was previously Marie Curie Fellow at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. His research lies at the intersection of urban studies, settler colonialism, political economy and Middle East studies, with a focus on the histories and geographies of infrastructure in Palestine. He is also engaged in a variety of research, cultural and community projects, including Eye On Palestine Arts and Film Festival and the Slow Science collective.

Session 5: Activism and scholarship – Monday 23 April 2018, 10:00-13:00 – VUB Campus  Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, lokaal G.6.308

In this session, we focus on the interaction (and possible tensions) between scholarship and activism. The latter term is used here in a broad sense to refer to any active engagement towards changing things within academia, or towards enabling a more fruitful interaction between society and academia. In the first presentation, we discuss the transition initiative at Ghent University, as an example of making academia more sustainable from within. In the second presentation, we discuss ‘Slam the city’ as an example of societal engagement, aimed at building bridges between academia and society.

  • David van der Ha: On the topic of “Sustainability Policy of Ghent University”

Bio: David van der Ha is a bioscience engineer and has obtained his PhD on microbial treatment methods for greenhouse gasses at Ghent University. He is currently sustainability coordinator at this same university. Together with staff members and a team of dedicated students, he integrates sustainability concepts in the management, research and educational programs of UGent. He is member of the core group of the ‘Transition UGent’ think tank, which engages over 250 academics, students and people from the university management in suggesting objectives and actions for the Sustainability Policy of Ghent University (Belgium).

  • Iman Lechkar: On the topic of “How academia tries to meet society: ‘Slam the city’ as an example”

Bio: Iman Lechkar has a Phd in Social and Cultural Anthropology (2012, University of Leuven). Her doctoral research focussed on conversion to and within Islam. Since 2017 she is holder of the Fatima Mernissi Chair at VUB. Her current research centers on Islam, gender and violence among muslims in Brussels. One of the explicit objectives of the Fatima Mernissi Chair is to build bridges between academia and society as a whole. The Fatima Mernissi Chair carries out the ideas and engagements of Fatima Mernissi and therefore cooperates closely with civil society organizations and Muslim youth and women in order to promote exchange and social cohesion. As part of this engagement, Iman Lechkar has organised several ‘Slam the City’ events in Brussels.

Session 6: Reflective afternoon – Monday 23 April 2018, 14:15-17:15 – VUB Campus  Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, lokaal G.6.308
  • Part 1: Session with union representatives on the rights of doctoral studentsJo Coulier (ABVV), Tim Van de Voorde (ACLVB), Tania Stadsbader (ACV)
  • Part 2: Reflection

In this session we aim to work with some of the insights gained from the first five sessions and let students reflect on their own position in academia in the form of a debate and discussion. A broad range of topics related to academic work will be addressed. Students will be encouraged to actively discuss and debate publication strategies, challenges of particular research environments, visions on the relationship between research, education and society, views on how research relates to social/political engagements, and finally also about the students’ perspectives on their own mental health (i.e. the impact of stress, output-related pressure, competition and job insecurity). The discussion will be moderated by a member of the organizing committee.
The aim of the session is threefold and builds further on the students’ preparatory essays:
1. Link back to the preparatory essay the students wrote in the light of the insights gained during the doctoral school. How did the students interpret the situation at their university, department, research group, etc. in relation to the required reading list before the doctoral school and after the five sessions.
2. Prepare the follow-up day more concretely by trying to answer the question as to how academia could be organized and developed differently and in better ways (both collectively and individually). Time will be provided to think of concrete actions@academia, which will form the starting point for session 8.
3. Make use of this discussion to formulate questions (based on the topics discussed in the sessions and the required readings) to be raised during the public debate.

Session 7: Debate: The future of the University – Monday 23 April 2018, 20:00-22:30 – Campus pleinlaan, VUB

This debate is a public event where we try to connect some of the issues that were raised in our doctoral school sessions with a wider academic and professional audience. It is our explicit aim to start from the questions, concerns and suggestions themselves raised within the different sessions instead of starting from a prepared talk from each individual panel member. As such, we wish to incite our panel to answer directly to the issues that have been raised in the different sessions. The debate will be organized in cooperation with DeBuren, up-to-date information on the debate and the panel can be found via this link: https://www.deburen.eu/programma/4603/de-democratische-erfenis-van-68-waar-staat-de-universiteit-vandaag. (The debate will be free of cost for participants in de DS)

Session 8: Another university is possible: Towards a slow science ethics and politics – Tuesday 24 April 2018, 10:00-17:15 – D015, Grote Kauwenberg 18, Stadscampus UAntwerpen

In this closing session we connect all the main questions raised in the previous sessions and in the debate, and integrate them into a crucial discussion on ‘how another science/university is possible’. First, students will be asked to think of a hypothetical group action/campaign concerning one of the issues raised in the previous seminars, meetings, debates during session 6. The students will be asked to present their action@academia, which will be discussed with members of the organizing committee and mediated by the organisation VredesActie who have extensive experience in offering action-trainings to groups.

VredesActie
Vredesactie is a pluralistic organisation that is part of the peace movement, making a radical plea for a society in which conflicts are resolved without violence or the threat of violence. Vredesactie is an engine for the development of non-violent action and
the realization of a pacifist peace policy. Social action, peace economy and peace education are the organisation’s foundation stones. Through these, Vredesactie aims at actively engaging citizens in society, amongst others by organizing campaigns and trainings on non-violent action.

2017

Inter-University Doctoral Schools Course (Universiteit Gent, Universiteit Antwerpen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Organizing committee/Course coordinators

Dr. Sigrid Vertommen, Ghent University

Dr. Omar Jabary Salamanca, Ghent University

Dr. Esther De Loof, Ghent University

Dr. Marlene Schäfers, Ghent University

Drs. Freek Van Deynze, Ghent University

Drs. Tessa Boeykens, Ghent University

Drs. Eva Willems, Ghent University

Drs. Charlotte Bollaert, Ghent University

Drs. Wim De Winter, Ghent University

Prof. Dr. Wim Fias, Ghent University

Prof. Dr. Christopher Parker, Ghent University

Prof. Dr. Pieter Maeseele, University of Antwerp

Prof. Dr. Koenraad Bogaert, Ghent University

Prof. Dr. Nick Schuermans, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Session 1: Publish and/or perish? 

Thursday 4 May 2017, 10:00-13:00, Room E207, Grote Kauwenberg 2, Antwerp.

Over the last decade, the Flemish government has urged Flemish universities to use bibliometric data as objective, quantifiable and repeatable measures to review the quality of research activities. Advocates of this strategy are convinced that publications in international journals with high impact factors are good indicators of the quality of academic research. Yet, others are afraid that the tendency to publish in English and in academic journals will hamper the role of science in the society at large.

In this session, we ask the students to reflect upon their publication strategies and the research climate in which they are developed. Topics that will be discussed include the politics of indexing and ranking, the politics of internationalization and the politics of performance measurement.

  • Nick Schuermans on the topic of “publish or perish”

Bio: Nick Schuermans is a postdoctoral researcher and teaching associate at Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He is the day-to-day coordinator of the interdisciplinary research program on Cities and Newcomers and a lecturer in the Erasmus Mundus MSc 4CITIES and the Msc Geography master’s degree programs. His current research builds upon his interest in the geographies of encounter and solidarity, and focuses on the role of diverse groups of professionals in the accommodation of newcomers in the city of Brussels.

Freek Van Deynze on the topic of “publish or perish” in the particular Flemish context

Bio: Freek is a PhD. Student at the Center of Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG). In his research he investigates the changing place of the university in society, and what this means for those working inside 21st century academia, more specifically with regards to doctoral education in Flanders. He will address these issues in his presentation, pointing out the linkages between personal experiences and broader sociological trends.

Session 2: Mental Health, Hypermobility and Precarity

Thursday 4 May 2017, 14:30-17:30, Room E207, Grote Kauwenberg 2, Antwerp.

Increasingly, universities in Europe have been alarmed about rising levels of mental illness amongst academics amid the pressure of job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketised higher education system. More and more studies document how demands for increased productivity, stress over student satisfaction surveys and research output causes symptoms of psychological distress, anxiety and depression. Yet, because of the persistent vision of ‘if you can’t stand the heat, you shouldn’t be here’, there is a continuing stigma amongst academia over seeking help to counter reduced well being. In this session we debate on the personal costs of academic success and on the general ‘culture of acceptance’ around well being in higher education. The discussion includes experiences of not only lectures but also students, administrative and other university staff and also aims to approach these issues in a broader context of the impact of current tendencies in academia. Furthermore we expand on this topic by highlighting the effect of hypermobility requirements for research and job precarity.

  • Katia Levecque on the topic of mental health

Bio: Katia Levecque is a professor of Industrial Relations and manager at the Centre for Research & Development Monitoring (ECOOM) of Ghent University, active in the field of occupational and public health/well-being. She will present data on the well-being of academic personnel in Flanders, highlighting stressors and buffers as well as delving into their structural causes.

  • Mariya Ivancheva on the topic of hypermobility and job precarity

Bio: Mariya Ivancheva is a postdoctoral research fellow on the IRC funded project Equality of opportunity in practice: studies in working, learning, and caring at the UCD Dublin. Her work has been dedicated to the ways in which intellectuals as a social group, and universities, as institutions, impact broader processes of social change.

Session 3:  Decolonizing and Transforming the University

Friday 5 May 2017, 10:00-13:00, Vergaderzaal decaan John Vincke, Gent.

Building on and connecting to contemporary struggles around race, gender and class, recent student and faculty led campaigns—such as Rhodes Must Fall, Why is My Curriculum White, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Campaign, Black Lives Matter Syllabus or Standing Rock Syllabus Project—are unsettling the colonial foundations of Universities across the Globe. Historicizing and unveiling power relations embedded in Eurocentric forms of knowledge and higher education institutions, this anti-and-decolonial movement embraces and seeks to accommodate non-Western thought, ways of knowing and world views. As such, it questions from what texts are read, to who is admitted, employed, and promoted, to the relation between the university and the community, to what knowledge is valued and what is dismissed or ignored. This panel considers initiatives and conceptual articulations to decolonise learning and the University in ways that trace the historical precedents and  impulses moving these struggles forward. In doing so, it hopes to come up with practical and workable suggestions for strategies on how to achieve transformations aimed at dismantling systemic injustices, not merely at reproducing social diversity.

  • Kerem Nisancioglu on British initiatives to Decolonize the University in theory and practice

Bio: Kerem Nisancioglu is a Lecturer in International Relations. Before this he was Visiting Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Westminster and Adjunct Lecturer at Richmond University. He received his PhD in International Relations from the University of Sussex in 2014. Kerem’s research focuses on Eurocentrism in international relations, and how this Eurocentrism can be subverted in both theory and history. In particular, his research has explored the ways in which non-European societies have been constitutive of European social relations in the early modern period. His current research seeks to uncover the international origins of whiteness as a form of social control. Kerem also blogs at The Disorder of Things.

  • Stien van Groendal on the topic of the Palestinian conflict

Bio: Stien van Groendal is a Belgian activist with Palestinian roots. She is one of the coordinators of the campaign to end the collaboration with the Israeli police within the EU funded LAW TRAIN project. She has been working for several years now on the issue of Palestinian child prisoners and political prisoners culminating in the photo exhibition ‘If I Were in Palestine’ and the short film ‘700 chances lost for peace’ on the detrimental effects of arrest on the development of children.

  • Chloé Deligne on the chart, experience and initiatives around the Désexcellence campaign

Bio: Chloé Deligne is a FNRS fellow at the ULB. Her research lies at the intersection of Medieval History, Environmental Management and Human Geography. Her PhD dissertation, Bruxelles et sa rivière, offered a political ecology approach to explore the socio-economic and environmental dynamics that tight together Brussels and its hinterland throw the close study of water. Deligne’s current work is focused on environmental history and cities and more specifically on contemporary histories of pollution and water management. She is a regular contributor to the campaign “Pour une désexcellence des universités”.

Session 4: Political Economy of Knowledge Production and Publishing

Friday 5 May 2017, 14:30-17:30, Vergaderzaal decaan John Vincke, Gent

In contemporary Academia scientific knowledge is increasingly commercialised and enclosed by a handful of private publishers and corporations. This commercialization of scientific knowledge is happening in a context of increasing governmental cuts and educational policies that encourage competition between and within universities and its workers. This situation raises important questions: What actually happens to our articles once we submit them to academic publishers? According to what kind of property regimes do these academic journals operate? Why do universities continue to pay astronomical prices to academic publishers to access the very knowledge that is produced within their own establishments? In this context, what are our rights and responsibilities as researchers? What can we do to ensure open access to scientific knowledge? This workshop aims to address these and other questions and also set an agenda for collective action steered towards a University of the commons.

  • Gwen Franck on the topic of open access science

Bio: Gwen Franck is Open Access Project Officer for LIBER, the Association of European Research Libraries. She brings to the role extensive experience related to Open Science. As a freelance consultant, Gwen has worked for several organisations dedicated to Open Science and has been involved with the OpenAIRE project since 2010, when she was working at Ghent University Library. Gwen is currently the Open Access Programme Coordinator for EIFL, coordinating the Region East activities within OpenAIRE. Within the scope of the OpenAIRE project, Gwen co-started Open Access Belgium, aiming to spread the word about Open Access for scientific research in the Belgian research community. From 2013 to 2016, Gwen was also the regional coordinator for Creative Commons, overseeing the activities of the Creative Commons affiliate teams in Europe. In addition, she is a board member for Open Belgium, a network of people who want to see all kinds of knowledge open, used and useful in Belgium.

  • David Berliner on the topic of the political economy of academic publishing

Bio: David Berliner is a former editor of Social Anthropology, currently Professor of Anthropology at the ULB in Brussels. Before that he was appointed at the Central European University (Hungary). Berliner holds a PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from ULB (2002), was a visiting PhD student at Manchester and Oxford and a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University (2001-2003). His main area of geographic experience and expertise is West Africa and Southeast Asia. As the former editor of a peer reviewed journal, he is familiar with the procedures, actors and stakes at play in academic publishing, as well as the debates surrounding open access.

  • Sigrid Sterckx on the topic of patenting, spin offs, start-ups, technology transfer, and other commercialisation tools

Bio: Sigrid Sterckx is Professor of Ethics and Political and Social Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy and Moral Sciences of Ghent University. She is a founding member of the Bioethics Institute Ghent and a founding member of the Ghent Centre for Global Studies. She lectures courses in theoretical and applied ethics as well as social and political philosophy. Her current research projects focus on: human tissue research and biobanking; patenting in biomedicine and genomics; organ transplantation; neurosciences, criminal law and ethics; end-of-life decisions; and global justice. She has published more than 120 books, book chapters and articles in international academic journals on these issues, including the co-authored books Exclusions from Patentability: How far has the European Patent Office eroded boundaries? (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Climate Change and Individual Responsibility: Agency, Moral Disengagement and the Motivational Gap (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), and the co-edited book Continuous Sedation at the End of Life: Ethical, Clinical and legal perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Sigrid also serves on various advisory committees, including the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics and the Ethics Committee of Ghent University Hospital.

Bio: Sarven Capadisli is a researcher at the University of Bonn, working in the field of web development and the semantic web, with a particular focus on linked publishing, annotations, and notifications ( https://dokie.li/ ). As part of his research he has developed the Linked Research initiative/framework that aids in the freely accessible publication of research as well as open review systems. In this way, Capadisli offers a practical solution for a number of concerns in scholarly communication.

Debate: The Future of the University

Friday 5 May 2017, 20:00-22:30, Academieraadzaal, Gent.

This debate is a public event where we try to connect some of the issues that were raised in our doctoral school sessions with a wider academic and professional audience. It is our explicit aim to start from the questions, concerns and suggestions themselves raised within the different sessions instead of starting from a prepared talk from each individual panel member. As such, we wish to incite our panel to answer directly to the issues that have been raised in the different sessions. The debate will be open to the broader public.

Short list for the panel:

Newly elected rector of the UGent (candidates Prof. dr. ir. Rik Van de Walle and Prof. dr. ir. Guido Van Huylenbroeck have both confirmed)

Prof. dr. Herman Van Goethem (rector UA) 

Prof. dr. Jan Danckaert (vice-rector VUB) 

Prof. dr. Anya Topolski (academic faculty) 

Dr. Anton Froeyman (Actiegroep Hoger Onderwijs) 

Dr. Sigrid Vertommen (Women’s strike Ugent) 

Moderator: Julie Carlier

Bio: Julie Carlier is the research coordinator of the Ghent Centre for Global Studies, an interdisciplinary research network at Ghent University in Belgium, where she also teaches on gender and globalisation, and the transnational history of feminism. She is the representative of the UGent in the Flemish Stakeholder Group for Societal Challenge 6 (Social Sciences and Humanities) of the European research programme Horizon 2020, and co-organized the Footprint conference on the social impact of Social Sciences and Humanities (UGent, 13 December 2016). Between 2010 and 2015 she was a board member of the IFRWH (International Federation for Research in Women’s History). She has published on the topics of gender, feminism and transnational history.

Session 6: Another university is possible: Towards a slow science ethics and politics

Thursday 11 May 2017, 10:00-17:30, Meeting room at the Law Faculty, Gent

In this closing session we connect all the main questions raised in the previous sessions and in the debate, and integrate them into a crucial discussion on ‘how another science/university is possible’. First, students will be asked to form groups in the days following the initial four sessions and prepare a hypothetical group action/campaign concerning one of the issues raised in the previous seminars, meetings, debates. The students will be asked to present their action@academia, which will be discussed with representatives from the Actiegroep Hoger Onderwijs, the unions and researchers. This interaction will be mediated by member of the organisation VredesActie who have extensive experience in offering action-trainings to groups.

  • Anneleen Kenis on the topic of activist research and the case of the potato action

Bio: Anneleen Kenis is an FWO postdoctoral researcher at the Division of Geography and Tourism at KU Leuven. She wrote a dissertation on ecological Citizenship, Movement Building and Politicization, and is currently doing research on the politics of air pollution. In 2011, she was involved in the potatoes action in Wetteren, which led to the dismissal of Barbara Van Dyck. As an activist researcher, she studied the complex relation between academic research and social commitment.

  • Barbara van Dyck on the topic of activist research and the case of the potato action

Bio: Barbara van Dyck is a bioscience engineer and researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. In 2011, she was involved in the potato action in Wetteren, which led to her dismissal from university. Years later, she was admitted to university again to pursue research. Based on her experience on the severe implications of combining activism with her role as a researcher, Barbara will share her insights on activism@academia.

  • Jan Dumolyn, Representative of the ACOD union

Bio: Jan Dumolyn is professor at the Department of History of Ghent University, where he specializes in medieval history. In combination with his academic career, he is also a representative for the ACOD union, where his main area of expertise is education and academic personnel. He is also an alternate member of the Flemish Council for Science and Innovation. In addition to this, he was also one of the leading figures behind the 2011 petition ‘Onderzoekers in Actie’ through which researchers successfully urged the Flemish Government to increase the budget dedicated to research.

  • Loes Debuysere, Representative of the UGent women’s strike

Bio: Loes Debuysere holds degrees in Arab Studies and Political Science and is currently working on a PhD on the topic of gender politics during a democratization process in Tunisia. She is a convinced feminist and recently brought those feminist ideas into practice by co-organizing the UGent Women’s Strike on March 8th, 2017. She believes the parallels between theory (mainly her dissertation) and practice (a.o. the Women’s Strike) have been particularly enriching for her.

  • VredesActie 

VredesActie is een pluralistische vredesbeweging die radicaal pleit voor een maatschappij waarin conflicten worden opgelost zonder geweld of het dreigen ermee. VredesActie is een motor voor de ontwikkeling van geweldloze actie en de invulling van een pacifistisch vredesbeleid. De organisatie streeft naar een maatschappij waarin conflicten zonder geweld beslecht worden. Sociale actie, vredeseconomie en vredesopvoeding zijn de drie hoekstenen van VredesActies strategie. De organisatie probeert dan ook actief mensen in beweging te zetten, onder andere door middel van campagnes en trainingen rond geweldloos actie voeren.

2016

Inter-University Doctoral Schools Course (Universiteit Gent, KU Leuven, Universiteit Antwerpen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Organizing committee/Course coordinators

Dra. Esther De Loof, Ghent University

Dra. Valerie De Craene, KU Leuven

Dr. Koenraad Bogaert, Ghent University

Dr. Anton Froeyman, Ghent University

Dr. Anneleen Kenis, KU Leuven

Dr. Nick Schuermans, UA, VUB

Dra. Sigrid Vertommen, Ghent University

Prof. Dr. Christopher Parker, Ghent University

Session 1: Introduction: what does it mean to be a researcher in the 21st century?

Thursday 18 February 2016, 10:00-13:00, Dijlezaal Bethlehem (BETH M00.A1), Schapenstraat 34, Leuven.

For many young researchers, the decision to start a career in academia is taken in an intuitive and (often) passionate way. It is a more or less self-evident consequence of one’s talent for and interest in science, and is often seen as a natural extension of a master’s degree. Yet, the academic world of today is a complex system in an increasingly globalized social and economic context. This will almost inevitably confront the young researcher with questions and considerations that her interest in science did not prepare her for. Researchers are employees of the university, and through the way the universities are financed also sources of income for that same university. They are paid by tax payer’s money, and as such have a responsibility toward society to do ‘relevant’ (but what is ‘relevant’?) research. Finally, more and more academics do their research in collaboration with the private sector, and hence are partly bound by the laws of the market. These different responsibilities can come into conflict with one another, as well as with the scientific ideals that motivate young researchers.

The output-driven financing system of higher education can compel researchers to publish soon rather than later, to focus on small-scale highly specialized fields and lose sight of the larger context, and finally to take fewer risks in their research in order to avoid losing precious time to publish. All these aspects might have a negative influence on both the quality and the relevancy of scientific research. More specifically with regard to the private sector, researchers working in collaboration with the industry might produce research that primarily increases the profit margins of multinationals and other corporations without necessarily having a benefit to society.

These various aspects of academic research are of great importance to young researchers. Moreover, the context of job insecurity, fixed-term contracts and a fierce competition for post-doctoral positions, will be the basis of the criteria that determine whether a career in academia is possible, and if so, what that career will be like. It is often not easy to find one’s way between these conflicting interests and pressures, being in constant competition with one’s direct colleagues, and often struggling to combine the demands of an academic career with a private or family life.

The aim of this session is to introduce the students to the problematic nature of current-day academic life. In four sessions, the students will be informed about the structural causes of the challenges they face as young researchers.

Speakers:

  • Nick Schuermans on the topic of publish or perish

Bio: Nick Schuermans is a postdoctoral teaching associate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Antwerp. At the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, he teaches courses within the Erasmus Mundus MSc 4Cities and the Msc Geography. At the University of Antwerp, he is affiliated to the Centre on Inequalities, Poverty, Social Exclusion and the City (OASeS) and is responsible for the day to day coordination of the DieGem project on solidarity in diversity. He has published, amongst other things, on publication practices in academia.

  • Anya Topolski on the topic of gender relations and gender politics

Bio: Anya Topolski is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy of the KU Leuven where she teaches a course on Ethics and Society. Anya’s primary research interests are in continental political and ethical thought, with particular attention to theological-political constellation, contemporary Jewish thought, education and feminism. As an engaged scholar, Anya has initiated a number of feminist activities and actions at university, such as the Sassy platform (Sharing Academic Sexism Stories with You) and a work group Women at Academia at KU Leuven.

  • Anton Froeyman on the topic of Actie Hoger Onderwijs

Bio: Anton Froeyman (Ghent University) is one of the founders and main figures of the Actiegroep Hoger Onderwijs (AHO), which has organized academics into a public protest organization. Focusing on the situation of young researchers in Flanders, he will explain the local science policy and its effects on the careers of young researchers and the quality of science.

  • Katia Levecque on the topic of mental health

Bio: Katia Levecque is a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Research & Development Monitoring (ECOOM) of Ghent University, active in the field of occupational and public health/well-being. She will present data on the well-being of academic personnel in Flanders, highlighting stressors and buffers as well as delving into their structural causes.

Session 2: Debate: What does it mean to be a researcher in the 21st century?

Thursday 18 February 2016, 14:30-17:30, Dijlezaal Bethlehem (BETH M00.A1), Schapenstraat 34, Leuven.

In this session we aim to work with some of the insights gained from the first session and let students reflect on their own position in academia, their expectations for the future and their concerns or insecurities. The debate will be moderated by a member of the organizing committee and the speakers of the morning sessions will be active participants in the debate.

A broad range of topics related to academic work will be addressed. Students will be encouraged to actively discuss and debate publication strategies, challenges of particular  and research environments, visions on the relationship between research and education, views on how research relates to social/political engagements, views and experiences of gender discrimination, sexism and patriarchy at the university, and finally, also about their perspective on their own mental health (i.e. the impact of stress, output-related pressure, competition and job insecurity).

Session 3: Lunch meeting with the promotors: What does it mean to supervise the researchers of the 21st century?

Friday 19 February, 12:30 – 14:30, Dijlezaal Bethlehem (BETH M00.A1), Schapenstraat 34, Leuven.

This session aims to bring academic staff and PhD supervisors into a dialogue about the key issues/themes addressed in the first two sessions. We would encourage – where desirable – course participants to invite their own supervisors to attend. We want to encourage supervisors to reflect on their role in the career management of young researchers. We also seek to raise awareness of the particular challenges faced by young researchers in a changing academy and engage with their perspectives and insights. The task of the organizing committee will be to bundle those concerns and questions and moderate the debate. Key conclusions will be reported and addressed during the final debate in the evening.

Session 4: Workshop: Another university is possible: towards a slow science ethics and politics

Friday 19 February, 15:00 – 18:00, Dijlezaal Bethlehem (BETH M00.A1), Schapenstraat 34, Leuven.

In this workshop we aim to reflect on the interrelations between academia and society by focusing on two particular cases of activist scholarship. First of all, we discuss the controversial case of Barbara Van Dyck who was fired because of her role in a public action trying to raise awareness about the societal risks of GMOs. Secondly, we look into the case of the Maagdenhuis occupation at the University of Amsterdam a few months ago. Starting from these cases, we aim to initiate a debate on the social, political and economic role of academics and, retrospectively, how this particular case also informs us on our own capacities to eventually co-shape the (academic) social environment we work in.  

This workshop is divided into three parts. First, we start with a presentation and reflection on each case by a colleague who was closely involved. Secondly, the students will be divided into different break out groups to brainstorm on possible future actions they might be willing to engage or participate in. Each break out group has to come up with at least one possible action method. Finally, we discuss these proposals in group.  

Speakers:

  • Anneleen Kenis on the topic of activist research and the case of the potatoes action

Bio: Anneleen Kenis is an FWO post-doctoral researcher at the Division of Geography and Tourism at KU Leuven. She wrote a dissertation on ecological Citizenship, Movement Building and Politicization, and is currently doing research on the politics of air pollution. In 2011, she was involved in the potatoes action in Wetteren, which led to the dismissal of Barbara Van Dyck. As an activist researcher, she studied the complex relation between academic research and social commitment.

  • Michiel Smit (tbc) on the topic of the Maagdenhuis occupation

Bio: Michiel Smit is a student of the Nieuwe Universiteit (New University) and was involved in the recent occupation of the Maagdenhuis at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) which lasted for several months. The Nieuwe Universiteit is a grassroots student movement for a more democratic university contesting the increasing marketization of higher education and the increasing reliance on managerialism to run (public) universities.

Session 5: Public debate: What kind of University do we want in the 21st century?

Friday 19 February, 20:00-22:30, Verbeeckzaal STUK, Naamsestraat 96, Leuven.

This debate is the final event of our doctoral school session and, at the same time, a public debate where we try to connect some of the issues that were raised in our doctoral school workshops with a wider academic and professional audience.

The questions in this final debate will be prepared by the participants of the course during the different workshop. It is our explicit aim to start from the questions, concerns and suggestions themselves raised within the different sessions instead of starting from a prepared talk from each individual panel member. As such, we wish to incite our panel to answer directly to the issues that have been raised in the different sessions. The debate will be open to the broader public.     

List of participants:

Liliane Schoofs (vice rector KUL)

Jurgen Tack (Secretary general FWO)

Rossette S’jeghers (Secretary general VLIR)

Sarah Bracke (KUL)

Anton Froeyman (UGENT – Actie Hoger Onderwijs)

Tim Joosen (ACOD)

Michiel Smit (De Nieuwe Universiteit) (TBC)

2015

Inter-University Doctoral Schools Course (Universiteit Gent, Universiteit Antwerpen, KU Leuven)

2014

Doctoral Schools Course (Universiteit Gent)