“Science is not for scientists, but for the world” - Belgium

“Science is not for scientists, but for the world” – Belgium

Books Rectors Caroline Pauwels (VUB) and Herman Van Goethem (In times of rapidly increasing polarization, it is especially important not to rely on ‘gut feelings’, but to base yourself as much as possible on high-quality research findings (UAntwerp) and Rick Van De Waly (UGent) and Luke Sells (KU Leuven). In this contribution they explain what the Hannah Arendt Institute stands for, after the N-VA and Vlaams Belang called on the Flemish Parliament to stop subsidies.

In the Committee on Internal Governance, Equal Opportunity and Civic Integration, the Hanna Arendt Institute received much praise from Flemish representatives Nadia Smennet (N-VA) and Sam Van Roy (Vlaams Belang) yesterday. During the presentation of the institute’s work, a press release was sent out in which Nadia Smennett (N-VA) called the institute “a glorified communications agency for the left-liberal vision of urbanization and citizenship” and called for subsidies to be made to be shut down. As presidents of the four universities participating in the Hannah Arendt Institute (VUB, UAntwerp, UGent and KU Leuven), we regret this disparaging description of the Hannah Arendt Institute and believe it is important to clarify what the institute stands for.

Academic Citizenship

Science is not for scientists, but for the world. That is why universities are actively trying to spread their knowledge and viewpoints. With the Hannah Arendt Institute, for example, we want to inspire professionals, policy makers, and citizens to begin to gain scholarly insights into diversity, urbanism, and citizenship. A solid scientific foundation also contributes to a comprehensive dialogue with these topics.

Science is not for scientists, but for the world.

New scientific insights can provide significant social added value. In the behavioral and social sciences, the path from science to policy development and concrete practice is often difficult and long. Knowledge in such disciplines often remains untapped, perhaps because its application sometimes collides with ideological walls, assumptions, or even prejudices. We consider it our job to draw attention to that knowledge. The Hannah Arendt Institute has this ambition to spread knowledge beyond the walls of the university, more specifically on topics such as diversity, urbanism and citizenship. Because that knowledge is important. Because it is important.

The need for progressive insight

It is only with “difficult” social topics that progressive insight is sorely needed. In conversations about complex topics such as immigration or freedom of expression, disinformation and ideological bias often prevent a workable solution. In this case, sound empirical results are a good basis and an opportunity to find each other. And the opposite is also true. A lack of scholarly diligence and in-depth knowledge is fertile ground for toxic polarization. Hannah Arendt has spent her whole life trying to make sense of the incomprehensible, because we “have our noses at it.” She asks us to think about what we are ‘doing’. She passionately advocated “reflection on one’s self,” sometimes against friends and prejudices. Advances in scientific understanding and enduring dialogue help us to do just that.

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The social need is there. The results of scientific research are also present. Together with the Hannah Arendt Institute, we work on valorization: making scientific insights valuable to society. At the Hanna Arendt Institute, we provide citizens with knowledge and research results through podcasts, videos, and events. We reach professionals with targeted training. We engage with policy makers through reports and round tables, always with an openness to dialogue and respectful debate. Because knowledge becomes particularly influential in the hands of those groups.

Through the Institute, we openly communicate with civil society and citizens “in practice” who wish to make a constructive contribution to the development of society. We can learn from their findings and thus answer their questions for further research.

The Hannah Arendt Institute is a link between the university and the community. The institute’s staff is studying how you can strengthen the social fabric in sports. They investigate how polarization, disinformation and hate speech affect our reference and framework and advise local authorities and other government services to respond appropriately. They bring together knowledge about how cities and municipalities deal with today’s complex challenges and help build communities of practice to inspire other cities and allow them to learn from each other.

Gut feeling or science

Is confrontation with a new vision painful sometimes? Yes, and changing your mind is not always easy. It grinds and sometimes pulls to adopt a new idea, change policy, or try a new method. In times of rapidly increasing polarization, it is extremely important not to rely on “gut feelings”, but to base yourself as much as possible on high-quality research results. Universities should not stand idly by, fend off misinformation and feed society with ever-evolving ideas from scientific research.

With an organization like the Hannah Arendt Institute, we take on this responsibility to present our knowledge to the world, to everyone who wants to use it. Of course, this knowledge cannot be taken or given away. It is the basis of dialogue, discussion and practical training. The institute, as it were, is an academic form of citizenship. We want to look beyond ideological boundaries and come up with solutions with other social actors. The world needs it more. not less.

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In the Committee on Internal Governance, Equal Opportunity and Civic Integration, the Hanna Arendt Institute received much praise from Flemish representatives Nadia Smennet (N-VA) and Sam Van Roy (Vlaams Belang) yesterday. During the presentation of the institute’s work, a press release was sent out in which Nadia Smennett (N-VA) called the institute “a glorified communications agency for the left-liberal vision of urbanization and citizenship” and called for subsidies to be made to be shut down. As presidents of the four universities participating in the Hannah Arendt Institute (VUB, UAntwerp, UGent and KU Leuven), we regret this disparaging description of the Hannah Arendt Institute and believe it is important to clarify what the institute stands for. Science is not for scientists, but for the world. That is why universities are actively trying to spread their knowledge and viewpoints. With the Hannah Arendt Institute, for example, we want to inspire professionals, policy makers, and citizens to begin to gain scholarly insights into diversity, urbanism, and citizenship. A solid scientific foundation also contributes to a comprehensive dialogue with these topics. New scientific insights can provide significant social added value. In the behavioral and social sciences, the path from science to policy development and concrete practice is often difficult and long. Knowledge in such disciplines often remains untapped, perhaps because its application sometimes collides with ideological walls, prejudices, or even prejudices. We consider it our job to draw attention to that knowledge. The Hannah Arendt Institute has this ambition to spread knowledge beyond the walls of the university, more specifically on topics such as diversity, urbanism and citizenship. Because that knowledge is important. Because it is important, with “difficult” social topics specifically, progressive insight is much needed. In conversations about complex topics such as immigration or freedom of expression, disinformation and ideological bias often prevent a workable solution. In this case, sound empirical results are a good basis and an opportunity to find each other. And the opposite is also true. A lack of scholarly diligence and in-depth knowledge is fertile ground for toxic polarization. Hannah Arendt has spent her whole life trying to make sense of the incomprehensible, because we “have our noses at it.” She asks us to think about what we are ‘doing’. She passionately advocated “reflection on one’s self,” sometimes against friends and prejudices. The development of scientific insight and constant dialogue helps us in this, the social need is there. The results of scientific research are also present. Together with the Hannah Arendt Institute, we work on valorization: making scientific insights valuable to society. At the Hanna Arendt Institute, we provide citizens with knowledge and research results through podcasts, videos, and events. We reach professionals with targeted training. We engage with policy makers through reports and round tables, always with an openness to dialogue and respectful debate. Because knowledge becomes particularly influential in the hands of those groups. Through the Institute, we openly communicate with civil society and citizens “in practice” who wish to make a constructive contribution to the development of society. We can learn from their findings and thus answer their questions for further research. The Hannah Arendt Institute is a link between the university and the community. The institute’s staff is studying how you can strengthen the social fabric in sports. They investigate how polarization, disinformation and hate speech affect our reference and framework and advise local authorities and other government services to respond appropriately. They bring together knowledge about how cities and municipalities deal with today’s complex challenges and help build communities of practice to inspire other cities and allow them to learn from each other. Does confrontation with a new vision hurt sometimes? Yes, and changing your mind is not always easy. It grinds and sometimes pulls to adopt a new idea, change policy, or try a new method. In times of rapidly increasing polarization, it is extremely important not to rely on “gut feelings”, but to base yourself as much as possible on high-quality research results. Universities should not sit back and confront misinformation and feed society with ever-evolving insights from scientific research. With an organization like the Hannah Arendt Institute, we take on this responsibility to present our knowledge to the world, to everyone who wants to use it. This knowledge cannot, of course, be taken or given up. It is the basis of dialogue, discussion and practical training. The institute, as it were, is an academic form of citizenship. We want to look beyond ideological boundaries and come up with solutions with other social actors. The world needs more of that. not less.

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