Interdisciplinary research consortia aimed at realising societal impact

We are currently rolling out six new IDC consortia! Check out this extensive news item.

Increasing interdisciplinarity, career possibilities, and real world impact

In 2018 Ghent University reinforced its investment in interdisciplinary collaboration and societal impact of research by introducing specific research consortia or IDC as a sequel to a previous initiative called the SSH Consortia (2012-2017).

Stage one of this strategy has led to four IDC in social sciences and humanities (SSH). The IDC represent Ghent University's ambition to further strengthen the quality and impact of SSH research (cf. position papers to advocate this stance at EU level)

Stage two has been rolled out in 2019 with six new IDC, bringing the total to ten and allowing for university-wide application of the initiative.

Some characteristics

  • The IDC are funded through the university's own Special Research Fund. With their focus on societal impact they form an interesting counterpart to the Business Development Centres (funded by the Industrial Research Fund and focused on economic impact).
  • Interdisciplinarity is at the core of the IDC initiative, fostering cross-faculty collaboration both within and between SSH and STEMM. Also transdisciplinarity and co-creation with non-academic stakeholders are encouraged.
  • All IDC are managed by a promotor-spokesperson and a dedicated research co-ordinator.
  • The IDC co-ordinator acts as a knowledge broker and works in close collaboration with the central Research Department, especially on societal impact policy and European Public Affairs.
  • A specific career model has been developed for these IDC co-ordinators, following the principles of Ghent University's vision on research assessment.

Stage One: 4 IDC in continuation of SSH consortia


Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies (HPIMS)

Henri Pirenne Institute (2018)HPIMS is a cross-disciplinary research & impact consortium that brings together all medievalists at Ghent University. It draws its 100+ members from 4 faculties and 10 departments. The Institute facilitates cross-disciplinary research into the medieval period and advances knowledge exchange both between the different fields of study. Research on original medieval heritage (texts, images, maps, artefacts and sites) is the core business, including the development and integration of Digital Humanities methods. However, HPIMS also houses expertise in collaboration with archives, libraries, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions, as well as with several societal sectors such as education, policy and tourism.

IDC co-ordinator: Stefan Meysman

Twitter: @MedievalUGent

Ghent Centre for Global Studies

Logo Global StudiesThis interdisciplinary research platform unites scholars from Social and Economic Geography; International, EU and Conflict & Development Studies; Economics, Sociology, Global History and Ethics; Human Rights Law and Intercultural Pedagogy – a total of 11 research groups from 6 different faculties – around the critical study of globalisation, with special attention to the interaction of global and local processes. With its interdisciplinary research (on inter alia urbanization, rural transformations, economic governance and migration) and education, the Centre wishes to contribute to the societal debate on, and evidence-based policy-making and development cooperation for, sustainable development.

IDC co-ordinator: Julie Carlier

Crime, Criminology and Criminal Policy (CCCP)

Logo CCCPThe IDC ‘Crime, Criminology & Criminal Policy’ brings together 16 scholars from different disciplines in six departments working inter-disciplinary on security, crime and deviance related topics in local, national, European and international contexts. Research topics cover among others complex cross-border crimes such as cybercrime, terrorism and organized crime but also privacy, information exchange, big data, law enforcement responses, policies and laws. The consortium fosters knowledge translation and exchange, strengthening societal value creation leading to societal impact and stimulates synergies and cooperation with external academic, policy and practice partners from different SSH and STEMM disciplines.

IDC co-ordinator: Noel Klima

Twitter: @Crime_UGent

PSYNC: working together for mental health

Logo PSYNCPSYNC is a consortium dedicated to improving the mental health of all citizens, running research projects in close collaboration with diverse stakeholder groups, with a clear focus on generating real world impact and providing societal innovation. PSYNC’s main goals are reaching vulnerable groups, stressing the importance of lifecycle perspective on mental health, increasing mental health literacy and health promotion, safeguarding ethical perspectives, and developing innovations in the treatment of mental health disorders.

IDC co-ordinator: Alexis Dewaele

Twitter: @alexisdewaele

Stage Two: 6 additional IDC

In its meeting of 17 December 2019 the Research Council of Ghent University has established 6 additional IDC. 

Human Rights Research Network

The consortium brings together Ghent University researchers working on human rights. It furthers interdisciplinary collaboration in human rights research (goal 1). In this manner it aims to increase excellent human rights research at Ghent University (goal 2), and to advance the societal impact of this research (goal 3), in close collaboration with societal stakeholders.

  • IDC co-ordinator: Giselle Corradi
GRAY - Ghent University Research for Aging Young

GRAY is an impact-focused interdisciplinary consortium aimed at boosting healthy aging by excellent translational research, societal outreach and valorization of novel solutions, interventions, products and services. GRAY brings together expertise in health promotion, environment and urbanism, adaptive technology, valorization and fundamental research in the scope of aging and closes the gap between science and society.

  • IDC co-ordinator: Sanne Stegen

UGent @ Work wants to (i) make the UGent research on work and the labour market more accessible and communicate it better, (ii) get more structured input from society, (iii) achieve more social impact with it and make better use of the opportunities for inter-disciplinary (iv) research cooperation and (v) research funding. This should result in more and better interdis-ciplinary research and evidence-based policy on topics such as burnout, labour market discrimination and work and digitisation.

  • IDC co-ordinator: Brecht Neyt
Urban Academy: a collaboratorium for sustainability issues in Ghent

The Urban Academy focuses on socio-ecological problems in the city of Ghent and at Ghent University. Academic staff, students, policy makers, civil society actors, etc. work in inter- and transdisciplinary research processes on problem definitions and possible solutions, (living lab) experiments and upscaling initiatives, (policy) reports and scientific articles. Our theoretical and analytical framework integrates socio-spatial, political-governance, socio-technical and economic perspectives. 

  • IDC co-ordinator: Charlotte Prové
DELTA - Digital innovation for man and society

IDC DELTADelta wants to put digital innovation back at the service of people and society. After all, although technology can make people's lives healthier, safer, more prosperous and happier, we have to watch out for undesirable effects. That is why Delta is bringing researchers together with policymakers, entrepreneurs and civil society organisations. Delta explores the possibilities of the very latest technologies and steers digital innovation in the desired direction.

IDC co-ordinator: Jeroen Bourgonjon

Twitter: @DeltaUgent

Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR): Migration and Social Mobility: Creating Impact through Participation

The interdisciplinary Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR) puts Ghent University on the map as ‘Centre of Excellence’ on the social dimensions of migration and fleeing. Through an increasing focus on participation in its diverse dimensions, this excellence will be further strengthened and the entire university community will be supported in the effective realization of impact on society from research.

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