Charles Pence

LOUVAINTER

Originaire des Etas-Unis, Charles Pence a rejoint l'UCLouvain début 2018. Il est chargé de cours à l'Institut supérieur de philosophie (ISP), à la Faculté de philosophie, arts et lettres.

Originally from the United States, Charles Pence joined UCLouvain in 2018. He is an associate professor at the Graduate Institute of Philosophy, in the Faculty of Philosophy, Arts and Letters at UCLouvain.

What country are you from originally?

The United States; I’m the one new faculty member recruited from the US this year.

Why did you choose UCLouvain?

I work in the philosophy of science, and UCLouvain has a long history (and a dedicated research center) in my field, with multiple faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and students. It’s a natural fit for the kind of work that I do. I also have many European colleagues, and I’m excited to be able to network much better with them than I could from North America!

What were your first impressions upon arrival, e.g. reception, mentalities, culture, day-to-day organisation, etc.?

Belgian bureaucracy is of course famous, but I didn’t notice it at all at the university level. I and many of the other new faculty members have been wonderfully surprised by how conscientious the staff have been at getting things arranged for us and helping us navigate the new system. Of course, the structure of degrees, institutes and faculties is all very different from a US university, but I’ve enjoyed getting to know a new system.

What is the main obstacle or what were the main obstacles to overcome regarding your project, e.g. language, funding, etc.?

Language is the largest – I could only read French when I got the job, and my French is up to “okay,” though not good enough to do a video interview yet! There are all kinds of resources for learning here, however, and nothing beats daily immersion.

Can you mention three positive aspects of your experience at UCLouvain?

  • Connections and networks
   I’ve already given and been invited to give numerous talks right here at UCLouvain, across Belgium, in the Netherlands, Denmark, and France – our location is just perfect for these kinds of collaborations.

  • Interdisciplinarity
   UCLouvain doesn’t just treat this as a slogan, it’s actually possible to do interdisciplinary work here. Joint professor courses, interdisciplinary working groups, all these things are regular parts of life here. That’s a new experience for me.

  • Growth
   It’s clear that we’re not just content with the way things have always been; there seems to be a real drive to grow and improve the university, in tangible ways that actually affect students and researchers.

What advice do you have for those who are considering UCLouvain to pursue their project?

Do it! UCLouvain is a vital, growing, active campus, with fantastic students, faculty, and staff. More broadly, Belgium is an amazingly welcoming academic system for foreign academics, with eager students, quality grant funding, and a great location at the heart of Europe.

What advice do you have for university community members when it comes to fostering a sense of community and living together in harmony?

I’ve found everyone here to be exceptionally open, and excited about collaboration and communication. I think if we can preserve that kind of focus as a community, it will remain easy for international students and scholars to thrive here.

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