Departments and research groups

Our Faculty has 6 departments that focus on a specific field of economic and social sciences. Each department has one or more research groups. Discover them all below.

Applied Economics

On the department

The teaching and research of the Department of Applied Economics (APEC) focus primarily on the application of micro and macro-economic theories to a variety of phenomena in society. We are currently conducting research on e-commerce, payment transactions, financial literacy, European competition policy and the economics of competition, economic growth, the economics of politics, social capital, international trade, and the behaviour of businesses, non-profit organisations, and governments.

APEC is headed by Prof. dr. Leo Van Hove.

Affiliated research groups and institutes
  • Brussels Center for Competition Policy (BCCP)

The APEC department also houses the Brussels Center for Competition Policy, the knowledge centre for interdisciplinary research on European competition policy.

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Department of Business

On the department

The Department of Business (BUSI) is responsible for teaching and research activities in the fields of management, marketing, finance, and accounting. The department is responsible for the courses offered in these areas within the programmes in Applied Economics, Commercial Engineering, Management, and Business & Technology.

BUSI is headed by Prof. dr. Bert Schreurs.

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Affiliated research groups and institutes
  • Management and strategy (MAST) 

The MAST cluster conducts research in the field of strategic management for sustainable business development and offers policy advice in 3 areas: stakeholder management, sustainable mobility and infrastructure management, and international strategic management.

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  • Marketing and consumer behaviour (MARK)

Research into consumer behaviour is carried out within the MARK cluster. The research focuses on retail marketing and shopping behaviour, both offline and online. We study issues related to shopper typologies, shopping motivations, customer emotions and experiences, satisfaction, and loyalty.

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  • Finance and insurance (FINS) 

The research group Finance and Insurance (FINS) conducts research in the areas of corporate finance, financial engineering, econometrics, and insurance mathematics. The research unit regularly receives international visitors and has excellent research partnerships with the financial sector.

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  • Accounting and auditing (ACCO) 

The subgroup Accounting & Auditing (ACCO) mainly conducts research on issues of financial reporting and audit quality. The group studies a wide range of topics, such as the comparability of the consolidated financial statements of European listed companies, and the determinants and consequences of voluntary financial disclosure by SMEs and micro-entities.

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Business Technology & Operations

On the department

The research and teaching of the Business Technology & Operations (BUTO) department focus on the application of mathematical models and innovation strategies in various fields: logistics, workforce planning, business informatics, data analysis, technology, location analysis, and geomarketing. Interdisciplinary research is a must in these fields.

BUTO is headed by Prof. dr. Thomas Crispeels.

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Affiliated research groups and institutes
  • Data Analytics Lab

The Data Analytics Lab is a multidisciplinary group of enthusiastic researchers. They use the link between data analysis and the properties of complex systems to analyse interdisciplinary issues. They develop data analysis tools based on information theory, non-linear dynamics, and statistical physics. The lab has strong links with the MOBI research group, the Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Applied Physics research group, and collaborates with various academic and industrial partners.

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  • Mobilise

35 professors and researchers in the fields of urban mobility and sustainable logistics founded the Mobilise Research Group in September 2022. The urban mobility team analyses the behaviour of transport users and the barriers to the adoption of sustainable transport modes while the sustainable logistics team researches pathways to reduce externalities by avoiding transport operations, creating awareness amongst stakeholders, anticipating new technologies, and shifting demand to more sustainable modes.

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Political Science

On the department

The Political Science Department (POLI) brings together a broad spectrum of leading researchers. Their research activity focuses on topics that are important in political science and in real-world politics. There is a distribution per research topic: Migration and Diversity, Political Representation, Political Socialisation, Democratic Innovations, Federalism, Nations and Nationalism, European Integration and Europeanisation, Political Parties and Elections, Climate and Energy Policy, Gender, Ethnicity and Religion, Brussels Politics and Policy, International Relations.

POLI is headed by Prof. dr. Karen Celis.

Affiliated research groups and institutes
  • Brussels School of Governance (BSoG)

The Brussels School of Governance (BSoG) is a partnership between the Institute of European Studies (IES), which has a long-standing reputation for postgraduate teaching and research, and Vesalius College, which has a solid range of bachelor’s and master’s courses. The BSoG conducts interdisciplinary research, organises fully accredited higher education programmes, and provides a wide range of academic services in various policy-relevant fields, including energy and environment, security and diplomacy, migration and diversity, and digitisation and democracy. 

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  • Expertise Centre Gender, Diversity, and Intersectionality (RHEA) 

RHEA, the Centre of Expertise Gender, Diversity, and Intersectionality, is a multidisciplinary and interfaculty research group that aims to contribute to the generation of knowledge on gender, diversity and intersectionality, through scientific and interdisciplinary research and education. RHEA provides a platform for researchers from all over the university. It plays a significant role in advising policymakers at the university and in the political world and provides expertise on equal opportunities and diversity policy.

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  • Brussels Information, Documentation, and Research Centre (BRIO) 

BRIO is a centre for information, documentation, and research on Brussels, with the main objective of increasing knowledge about Brussels and the surrounding municipalities. This is done through scientific, interdisciplinary, and policy-supporting research. BRIO initiates, develops, and disseminates scientific research and promotes research cooperation and information exchange.

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  • Brussels Interdisciplinary Research Centre on Migration & Minorities (BIRMM) 

The interdisciplinary research group Brussels Interdisciplinary Research Centre on Migration and Minorities (BIRMM) brings together over 100 VUB researchers from 11 disciplines, including political sciences, law, sociology, criminology, geography, medical sciences, communication sciences, linguistics, psychology and pedagogical sciences, philosophy, and history. The research centres on subjects related to migration, minorities, and diversity.

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Communication Sciences

On the department

The Department of Communication Sciences (SCOM) is responsible for education and research in communication studies. The department's research activities coincide with the work of the DESIRE, ECHO, and SMIT research groups. The members of the Department of Communication Studies therefore work closely with these 3 research centres.

SCOM is headed by Prof. dr. Ike Picone.

Affiliated research groups and institutes
  • Center for the Study of Democracy, Signification and Resistance (DESIRE)

DESIRE is an international research group that critically examines the political-democratic nature of social processes. Crucial to DESIRE's mission is the study of the logic of power. The focus of DESIRE is thus indeed political, but then broadly defined as the ontological dimension of struggle and conflict in society, and not limited to specific institutionalised forms of politics. To this end, it addresses many social fields in which meaning is created, such as the media, cultural institutions and heritage sites, and politics.

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  • ECHO

ECHO devotes itself to the study of 'meaning' as this manifests in the media, culture, and politics and the interfaces between them. ECHO is home to a group of international scientists. The aim of ECHO is to develop a critical and nuanced understanding of how the reproduction and contestation of meanings contribute to social, cultural, and political change and continuity.

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  • SMIT

The imec-SMIT-VUB research group carries out fundamental, applied, and contractual research on IT, media, and policy. The focus is on research related to innovation, policy, and socio-economic challenges. To this end, imec-SMIT-VUB conducts user research, policy research, and business analysis, using qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The research group consists of 2 research programmes: Media & Society and Data & Society.

In addition, SMIT runs 3 knowledge centres (Knowledge Centre Data & Society, Mediawijs, Hannah Arendt Institute) and holds 4 academic chairs (Data Protection On the Ground, Smart Cities Chair, Personalisation Chair, Trust & Sustainable Media, and the Media in a Society in Transition Chair).

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Sociology

On the department

The Department of Sociology (SOCI) is responsible for teaching in the bachelor's and master's programmes in Sociology and the bachelor's in Social Sciences. In practice, the research activities of the department coincide with the work of the research group BRISPO, the Brussels Institute for Social and Population Studies. 

SOCI is headed by Prof. dr. Dieter Vandebroeck.

Affiliated research groups and institutes
  • Brussels Institute for Social and Population Studies (BRISPO)

As of January 1, 2024, three research groups at VUBβ€”Interface Demography (ID), Tempus Omnia Revelat (TOR), and Qualitative Research in Action (QRIA)β€”have merged to establish the new research group, BRISPO - Brussels Institute for Social and Population Studies. BRISPO is an interdisciplinary research centre composed of sociologists, demographers, economists, psychologists, statisticians, and human geographers. Its members conduct research on the socioeconomic, cultural, and demographic dimensions of patterns of social inequality within Belgium, Europe, and beyond.

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What's the difference between a department and a research group?

A Faculty consists of several departments. Each department within a Faculty is responsible for the educational and research activities within their specialisation.

Within each of these departments one or more research groups are active. These groups consist of an international team of researchers who are fully committed to socially relevant research within their specialisation. In this way, the educational offer can be permanently adapted to the latest scientific evolutions.

More on our faculty activities