( 28-09-2018 ) During the next few years, the faculties at Ghent University will closely collaborate with each other in the realisation of ten interdisciplinary projects of major social impact.
Ghent University is creating 21 new professorships which they will begin to fill as of this autumn.
The announcement in 2017 that Ghent University intended to invest in a project of interdisciplinary research generated a great deal of interest within the institution. Consortiums wherein at least two faculties are collaborating could submit their candidacy for maximum three new professorships (ZAP-mandates). In total, 92 proposals were submitted. Ghent University had these proposals evaluated by an independent international jury panel.
That an international jury should be asked to pass judgement on interdisciplinary projects is an innovative proposition. In their selection of the successful candidacies, the jury paid attention to the scientific excellence as well as to the likely social and/or economic impact of the submitted proposals. Other evaluation criteria included the degree of engagement between and amongst the faculties, the focus on the educational aspect, research or provision of services (or a combination of these factors), and on the additional benefits to be derived from the new mandates by the projects in question.
Twenty-one new professorships
In the end, the jury panel selected ten proposals on the basis of the afore-mentioned criteria. Each project offered cogent reasons on how and why in its realisation it would be able to use the expertise of either one, two, or three professors. This resulted in the total number of 21 ZAP-mandates for the ten projects.
"By creating these ten projects and 21 professorial mandates, Ghent University emphasises the value of interdisciplinary collaboration", thus declares Rector Rik Van de Walle. "Ghent University breaks through existing conventional barriers by embarking upon specific research questions that will provide solutions on how to resolve some very concrete needs that currently trouble our society. This offers both Ghent University and society at large true and concrete additional benefits. Unquestionably, mono-disciplinary research retains its importance, but to open up the boundaries existing between and amongst disciplines is, indeed, ground-breaking in its own distinctive way."
Ten projects to benefit society
The ten selected projects treat social issues such as immigration, palliative care and euthanasia, or circular economy. In a nutshell, the ten projects are :
- · Refugee studies examines the multiple, complex, and deeply interwoven social consequences of forced migration and refugee issues.
- · Metamedica stands for research into health privacy, health law, and bio-ethics. Studies are conducted in collaboration with, and on behalf of, clinicians, jurists, ethicists, and ICT practitioners.
- · Urban waste and circular economy deals with the issues of sustainable chemistry and circular economy and aims at instructing chemists, engineers, and other newly developed areas of expertise by introducing methods of socio-technical systems of thinking, multi-perspectivism, and sustainability policy.
- · Econo-physics (economics, networks and data) intends to study economic and social issues using a novel data-driven approach and network methodologies inspired by insights from physics.