Dies Natalis Honorary Doctorates

On 23 March 2018, Dies Natalis, Ghent University will be honouring French-Senegalese writer Fatou Diome with an institutional honorary doctorate. Five faculty honorary doctorates will also be awarded.

The honorary titles will go to:

  • literary scientist Dame Gillian Beer (University of Cambridge), on the recommendation of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy (Professor Marysa Demoor);
  • economist Hernando de Soto (Institute for Liberty and Democracy, Lima), on the recommendation of the Faculty of Law and Criminology (Professor Annelies Wylleman);
  • bacteriologist Marcelo Gottschalk (University of Montreal), on the recommendation of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (Professor Freddy Haesebrouck);
  • sustainability researcher Johan Rockström (Stockholm University), on the recommendation of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering (Professor Kris Verheyen);
  • pharmacologist Patrick Couvreur (Paris-Sud University), on the recommendation of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Professor Stefaan De Smedt).

Institutional honorary doctorate

On Dies Natalis, Ghent University will also be awarding an institutional honorary doctorate to French-Senegalese writer Fatou Diome.  

Fatou Diome (b. 1968, Niodior, Senegal) has written, among others, Le ventre de l’Atlantique (2003), Kétala (2006), Inassouvies, nos vies (2008), Impossible de grandir (2013), and Marianne porte plainte! (2017). 

She embodies the world of the 21st century. Her work and passionate appearances in the media illustrate the theme of a global world that is searching for a multi-faceted ’identity’. 

Fatou Diome asks that France and Europe open up the democratic achievements and redefine these in a world in which inequality is causing international tensions.

The themes that the writer addresses in her work (post-Colonialism, refugees, women’s place in society, a search for a multi-faceted identity, racism and nationalism, Europe’s role in the world, migrant issues) tie in with the concerns and questions of a university that is tuned in to the 21st century.

Ghent University feels that awarding her with an honorary doctorate ties in perfectly with a Macron era in which France surpasses the boundaries of metropolitan France.

As a committed author, Fatou Diome embodies current societal-social themes in an exceptional manner. Therefore, the honorary doctorate that Ghent University will be honouring her with on 23 March 2018 also contains a strong social signal.


Many honorary doctorate recipients give a lecture during the week of Dies Natalis in the faculty:

  • 22 March, 4 p.m.: Patrick Couvreur: Lecture ’Nanomedicine(s): where do we come from, where do we go to?’
  • 22 March, 7 p.m.: Johan Rockström: Symposium: ’Planetary boundaries: from global challenges to local solutions’