Circle U.'s Academic chairs at UCLouvain

Awarded during the summer of 2021 for a period of three years, the Circle U. Academic Chairs programme is an important backbone of the Circle U. infrastructure, tying several activities together and will be an enabler for cooperation and dissemination across our universities. Being entirely funded by our member universities, the programme will also safeguard the sustainability of our cooperation beyond the pilot project phase, irrespective of external funding

What is the context for the chairs?

One of Circle U. ambitions is to establish new opportunities for cooperation and lay the foundation for stronger academic collaboration.

To do this, the seven universities member of the alliance are setting up a joint Circle U. education and research infrastructure. This will provide spaces for students and staff to, on the one hand, co-create knowledge and solutions with external stakeholders and, on the other hand, engage in policy development with external stakeholders.

What is the role of the chairs?

The Circle U. Academic Chair Programme will ensure strong and sustainable connections across our universities, between research and teaching, between students and staff, and between universities and society.

More precisely, the role of the chairs is to:

  • Develop and lead interdisciplinary projects within Circle U.
  • Link teaching and research, including in a trans- and interdisciplinary way.
  • Encourage students to play an active role in the creation of knowledge and to get involved in socially engaged research.
  • Represent and champion Circle U. both internally and nationally and internationally, as well as to external stakeholders.
  • Stimulate new models of academic collaboration and partnership and share them within the alliance.

The six 2021-2023 chairs at UCLouvain


Circle U. Challenge

Concerned platform: Student Led Sustainable Innovation.
Holder : Prof. Amélie Jacquemin (LSM)

Role of the chair : To contribute to a sustainable economy and a green transition, we will substantially increase our number of graduates with entrepreneurial and, more globally, innovation skills and experience. Circle U. Challenge will bring together the best of our active pedagogical practices to empower our students. We also want to contribute to a better gender balance amongst innovators and entrepreneurs by creating a Female Founder Network across universities, including both graduate and postgraduate students.

Short bio : Amélie Jacquemin is professor of entrepreneurship at the Louvain School of Management and academic head of the incubator for student entrepreneurial projects on the UCLouvain FUCaM Mons campus.

Personal goals : I have several objectives. First, I would like to develop extra-curricular activities (a “New Ways of Caring” Challenge) and a joint virtual programme (project courses) to make students discover systemic approaches inducing sustainable changes at the individual and collective levels. Second, I would like to take initiatives to attract more women to entrepreneurship courses and to deconstruct classic myths surrounding female entrepreneurship. Third, I would like to share with my colleagues in this alliance a research project on entrepreneurship education that focuses on sustainable entrepreneurship skills.

Water and Food Nexus

Concerned platforms : Knowledge Hub "Climate", Open School of Public Governance
Holder: Prof Marnik Vanclooster (AGRO)

Role of the chair: The role of the chair is to explore how universities can contribute with knowledge and solutions to the pressing issues of climate change, and examine the implications of the European Green Deal.
Water and food are two basic issues for which specific goals are defined in the Sustainable Development Goals agenda of the United Nations (SDG-2 ‘No hunger’, SDG-6 ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’). Yet both SDG are strongly interlinked as agriculture uses 70 % of the available freshwater. Both themes are also intertwining with the many other SDGs and are essential pillars of the ‘One Health’ approach. Given the strong interlinkages between water and food, strategies that will increase the sustainability of the food production system will also increase the sustainability of the water system and vice-versa. Linking water and food is therefore pivotal to reach the SDG, in particularly in a changing climate environment. This linking is considered the key within a Water-Food Nexus (WFN) approach.
The objective of this chair is to set-up research and teaching activities supporting the implementation of WFN approaches in the sustainable development agenda.

Short bio : Dr. Marnik Vanclooster is full professor at UCLouvain. He has a basic training in agricultural engineering and made his Ph.D. in soil physics. He develops research projects in the area of water resources engineering, agricultural water management, vadose zone hydrology and integrated water resources management.

Personal goals : As examples, we are going to define how research can be structured and promoted in the Circle U. network related to climate change impact on water and food systems, or to institutional reforms for addressing global water and food security, or to improve global health, …). The Chair also aims to co-develop teaching and learning activities related to WFN at bachelor and master level; to organise scientific exchanges (seminars – workshop) on WFN; to organise summerschool activities on WFN; and to conceive a transdisciplinary applied research programme related to WFN.

Strengthen democracy and civic engagement

Concerned platforms: Knowledge Hub "Democraty", Open School of Public Governance.
Holder: Prof Olivier Standaert (ESPO)

Role of the chair. The objective of the chair is to examine the alarming trends in Europe and elsewhere where democratic values are undermined and discarded, and develop strategies to strengthen democracy and civic engagement.

Short bio: Olivier Standaert is Assistant Professor at the Louvain School of Communication. His main research focuses on Journalism studies and comparative studies between journalistic cultures and markets. He is now chairing the Louvain School of Journalism (EjL)..

Personal goals : Olivier aims at establishing a network of expertise in media systems/journalism & democracies within Circle U. for the purpose of research projects/scientific activities. He wishes to increase exchanges for the creation of innovative one-off educational activities and, in the long run, for a more integrated student mobility.
Olivier would like to gain a better understanding of the cultural specificities of the universities involved and their impact on the understanding of the issue of Democracy, as well as the teaching and research models developed within the partner universities in order to mutually reinforce their action.

Combat inequalities in access to health care

Concerned platform: Knowledge Hub "Global Health"
Holder: Prof. Sandy Tubeuf (FSP)

Role of the chair. The role of the chair is to address the pressing issue of global and local inequities in health and seek to develop strategies for providing better healthcare for all.
The main aim of the project is to develop a unique inter-university doctoral training where PhD students with a multidisciplinary profile in Health Sciences and Humanities or Social Sciences are provided with an opportunity to access a robust methodological baggage that allow them to solve ‘real-life’ societal challenges in global health.
The project responds to the objective of developing a thriving doctoral structure where PhD students and researchers within and outside academia co-create knowledge and are provided with a strong methodological training that will allow them to identify solutions in diverse settings: government, industries, or NGOs.

Short bio : Sandy Tubeuf has joined UCLouvain in 2018. She is an economist working on health outcomes. Her research mainly brings together applied econometrics and survey data to study the determinants of inequalities and evaluate health policies.

Personal goals : As an economist working mainly on health-related questions and based within the health sector, Sandy already has a great experience of interdisciplinary research and an ability to communicate within a multi-disciplinary context.
The project she would like to develop as part of the Circle U. Academic Chairs builds upon this interdisciplinary profile and her strong interest for methodological skills useful for policy-decision making. Sandy sees Circle U. as being an opportunity to equip post-graduate students with the best training to analyse global health issues, engage with policy-makers and co-design sustainable solutions. .

Building the Open School of Public Governance

Concerned platforms: Open School of Public Governance, Knowledge Hubs
Holder: Prof. Edoardo Traversa (DRT)

Role of the chair : The interdisciplinary Circle U. Open School of Public Governance is a long-term framework for coupling societal problem solving to academic research in multiple fields with the development of research-based educational offers in public governance. The Open School of Public Governance will connect to the Knowledge Hubs through the development of joint interdisciplinary educational courses and programmes.

Short bio: Edoardo Traversa teaches at UCLouvain's Law and Criminolgy Faculty. His research and teaching focuses on European (tax) integration, fiscal federalism, international and domestic taxation, and legal aspects of economic, social and environmental governance.

Personal goals : Edoardo would like to work on the creation of the Open School of Public Governance which embodies both in its programs and functioning the values of a European university. Some of his topics of interest are the relationship between citizens and public institutions in European democracies, the collective and individual representation of public policies and their actors (governments, experts, ...) in the public opinion and the democratic legitimation of economic and tax policies, especially in the supranational context.

Rethinking tomorrow's higher education

Concerned platform: Think and Do Tank
Holder: Prof Min Reuchamps (ESPO)

Role of the chair: The think and Do Tank on the Future of Higher Education will allow us to implement transformational changes in our teaching methods and programmes and to accompany these with critical reflection and evidence. We aim at becoming an active co-creator to the policy development within the European Education Area and linking it to the European Research Area.

Short bio: Min Reuchamps is professor of political science at UCLouvain. His teaching and research interests include federalism and multi-level governance, democratic innovations and transformations, participatory and deliberative methods, as well as relations between language(s) and politics.

Personal goals : Min wants to adopt a bottom-up and multi-stakeholders approach of tomorrow’s higher education teaching, learning and assessing. He wants to place a specific focus on rethinking the modalities of tomorrow’s exams, taking into account where t