Alexis Dewaele

     Alexis Dewaele


What is your main driver for doing research?

I see research, especially within Social Sciences and Humanities, as a driver for social change: tackle the needs of diverse individuals and help them adapt to changing circumstances. For me, being able to do research (and teach) is a great gift that allows me to connect with people and co-creatively try to address pressing needs in continuously changing societies and environments.

Why do you believe that strengthening mental health is so important?

Although we are quite socialized in thinking that physical -and mental health are two separate constructs, I really believe this is not the case. Both influence each other and are inextricably intertwined. If we want people to optimally evolve towards fulfilling and opportunity-rich lives, we really need to dare to ask the question “what is it that really makes us happy?” and do all we possibly can to achieve this goal.

How could research change the world?

Research can, step-by-step, contribute to healthier societies and happier people. However, more research, more publications, and more funding does not necessarily equal improved human beings or living conditions. It requires constant guard to evaluate the contribution that science makes to society. Researchers have an important responsibility to at least try to foster positive change and co-creatively interact with relevant stakeholders (e.g., governments, citizens, companies,…). Tackling complex social problems is what we are here for.

With whom outside academia did you already collaborate and achieved important results?

Recently, I had very intense and productive relationships with the City of Ghent, Ministry of Makers, Apollo 18, and many stakeholders within the field of mental health (e.g., Mental Health Europe, the Flemish Association for Mental Health,…). Since my long-term research interest has been about sexual minorities, I also built up close relationships with LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) organizations and policy makers. My work at Ghent University allows me to meet new people every month and connect with networks all over the world: the greatest gift of all.



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