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Lecture Series

Tuesday, 21 February, 2017 - 18:00 to Thursday, 18 May, 2017 - 19:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Building D
Room D0.08

The VUB Communication Studies Lecture Series

Brussels Talking: Europe, Media and Society

February - May 2017

The VUB Communication Studies Lecture Series is a prestigious series of compact two-hour conferences on media and communication in Europe with prominent guest speakers from the European media industry, journalism, academia, NGO’s, and European institutions. The Lecture Series enhances understanding of topical debates about economic, political, technical, legal and societal aspects of media and communication in Europe.

The lectures take place, unless mentioned otherwise, on the first and the third Tuesday of the month, from 18h to 20h, from late February to May. Lectures and roundtables of approximately 45-60 minutes are followed by 45-60 minutes of discussion. Confirmed speakers for 2017 so far are (full bios below):

  • February 21, 2017 – Siada El Ramly - Director General EdiMA, European association representing online platforms- The Digital Single Market: what is really going on? Industry insights into the rollout of the DSM strategy
  • March 7, 2017 – Ross Biggam –- Vice-President Government Relation EMEA, Discovery Communications -– Threats and Opportunities for Broadcasting in the Digital Era
  • March 28, 2017 - Anna Herold - Cabinet of Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society - EU copyright reforms: challenges and opportunities for the European Digital Market
  • April 18, 2017 – Aidan White – Director, Ethical Journalism Network – Ethical Journalism as an Inspiration for Free Expression
  • April 25, 2017 - Thierry Geert - Country Director, Google Belgium - Reinventing Media in the Digital Age
  • May 2, 2017 – Jean-Paul Marthoz – Foreign affairs columnist at Le Soir, EU representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Advisor to Human Rights Watch – Threats to Press Freedom in Europe
  • May 16, 2017 – Matthew Kaminski - Executive Director, Politico EU – The POLITICO Experiment
  • May 18, 2017 (17h-19h in room D0.02 !) – Prof. Dr. Andrea Renda – Senior Researcher CEPS (Center for European Policy Studies), Professor LUISS - Ex Machina: current challenges in the ethics and regulation of artificial intelligence

Registration and location:

The Lecture Series is open to all, and is particularly relevant for media and communication professionals, employees from the EU and other international institutions, NGO representatives, students, and academics.

The lectures are an integral part of the two English-language VUB Masters of Science in Communication Studies on ‘New Media and Society in Europe’ and ‘Journalism and Media in Europe’. They provide the students a full-portfolio insight into the evolving landscape of media and communication in Europe.

The Lecture Series will take place in Room D0.08, please make sure you arrive at least 10 minutes before the lectures start (18h). To find Room D0.08 you can consult the map of the VUB campus at: http://www.vub.ac.be/image/3brussel_large.jpg Room D0.08 is located in Building D.  

Attendance is free of charge but registration is compulsory. The registration link is provided below at the end of the page.


The Lecture Series is organised by the department of Communication Studies (VUB), in collaboration with the research groups SMIT, Cemeso, and DESIRE.


The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is a dynamic and modern university with two parkland campuses in the Brussels Capital Region: the main campus in Etterbeek is home to seven faculties. In Jette you can find the medical campus and the University Hospital.High quality education and research are central issues. The VUB research teams are internationally recognised in many disciplines of fundamental and applied research.The Vrije Universiteit Brussel is the largest Dutch-speaking employer in the Brussels Region. Centrally situated in the capital of Europe, the VUB takes up its role as an ambassador for Flanders and Brussels, in a spirit of active pluralism and open mindness.The VUB offers a quality education to more than 9000 students. To this it is important to add the almost 4500 students of the VUB partner, the Erasmus Hogeschool Brussels; the 400 students at the English-speaking Vesalius College; the 5000 students at the Centre for Adult Education that shares our campus, and the more than 150 research teams working on both our campuses, and the VUB becomes one of the biggest centres of knowledge in the capital of Europe.

VUB Communication Studies

The department of communication studies of the VUB has a longstanding tradition of combining research and education in order to form reflective media professional. It has a fully fledged Dutch program, and has two English-language masters focused on Europe. One master is centred around new media and society in Europe, the other on journalism and media in Europe. Internationalisation and links to the professional sector and political arena are core to the pedagogical philosophy of the department.




SMIT stands for Studies on Media, Information and Telecommunication. The research centre, founded in 1990 at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, is part of iMinds, the Flanders’ digital research and incubation center. SMIT specializes in social scientific research on media and ICT. Currently, the research centre consists of over 70 researchers. SMIT research combines user, policy and business analysis with both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. In order to develop new methodological tools, a continuing dialectic between theory and empirical research is one of the centre’s high-level objectives. Three methodologies have become the core of SMIT’s research agenda:user research, policy analysis and business modelling. 


Research at CEMESO examines the role of media and culture in social life. The production, distribution and appropriation of symbolic resources, whether it be in a technological, artistic, material, bodily, didactical or discursive way, make up CEMESO’s research field. From these perspectives, CEMESO investigates how media and culture contribute to the construction, reproduction, negotiation and contestation of meanings in social life. CEMESO is involved in both academic and action research projects that contribute to human emancipation and to sustainable forms of empowerment, fairness, diversity and democracy. Through its research and engagement, CEMESO articulates a social commentary on media and culture in contemporary society.


DESIRE, the Centre for the study of Democracy, Signification and Resistance, brings together an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium), Univerza v Ljubljani (Slovenia), and Uppsala Universitet (Sweden), and affiliate members from other institutions, to support their joint research activities. DESIRE performs critical research into the role of discourse and signification in power dynamics in the many societal fields where meaning is produced and circulated, including the media sphere, the sphere of cultural institutions and heritage sites, and the sphere of politics. DESIRE. Its culturalist analyses are focused on four main areas of interest: production and use in communication, the politics of life, ideologies, and empowerment and activism.


Ross Biggam is currently Vice-President Government Relation EMEA, Discovery Communications. After studying at Exeter and Saarbrücken, Ross worked as Legal Adviser to the House of Lords EU Select Committee before joining ITV, the leading commercial broadcaster in the UK, where he ended up as Head of European Affairs. In April 2000, he moved to Brussels to become Director General of the Association of Commercial Television in Europe (ACT) before moving to Discovery in November 2015. Ross is also Visiting Professor in Creative Industries at the University of Glasgow.

Siada El Ramly is the Director General of EDiMA – the European association representing online platforms. In 2016 Politico named her one of the 20 women who shape Brussels; she has extensive experience in European public affairs and in particular experience in the European Digital sectors- having worked for the hardware and software industries in the past. Before joining EDiMA Siada was Secretary General of the European Software Association, Director of the AHIMA global services office, Director General of the European Federation of Independent Producers as well as Senior EU Affairs Manager at Digital Europe. Siada has furthermore worked for the content sector and the healthcare sectors. She also set up her own consultancy company that provides public affairs, association management and strategic advice to interest groups. Siada holds an MA in International Studies and Diplomacy from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) - University of London and a BA in Political Science – specialising in International Relations from the American University in Cairo. 

Thierry Geert graduated as Solvay Business Engineer at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1989. During his studies, he already founded a student enterprise, within the framework of the Entrepreneurial Talent Corporation. After his studies, he started working as auditor for Coopers & Lybrand (now PWC), but quite soon his passion for media, online marketing and innovation led him to management and board positions at, among others, Corelio Publishing, Nostalgie, VAR, Clickx and Passe-Partout. In 2008, he became CEO of Corelio Business Development and of Arkafund. Since 2011, he is Country Director of Google Belgium and as such he is positioned in the heart of online marketing and innovative entrepreneurship, two of the fields in which our faculty aims to excel on an international level. 

Anna Herold is currently Member of Cabinet of Günther H. Oettinger, European Commissioner responsible for Digital Economy and Society. She has been previously Assistant to Deputy Director-General of DG Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) of the European Commission and before that she was in charge of electronic communications policy design in the Unit of this DG responsible for Regulatory Coordination & Business, where she led a policy outreach team on the Telecoms Single Market initiative. She has worked for the European Commission since 2003, previously dealing with media and audiovisual policy as well as competition policy. Anna holds a PhD in Law from the European University Institute in Florence and has written widely on media law and policy, international trade and competition law.

Matthew Kaminski is the Executive Editor of POLITICO’s European edition, which launched in April 2015. Prior to joining POLITICO in January 2015, Matt was a member of The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board in New York. He wrote editorials, opinion columns and features, mainly on international affairs. For the previous 15 years, Matt worked as journalist throughout Europe, starting as a “stringer” in Kiev for the Financial Times and the Economist in 1994, writing stories from throughout the former Soviet Union. He joined the Journal in 1997 in its Brussels bureau. He covered Central Europe, the EU and trans-Atlantic security issues, and in 2002 moved to Paris to edit the editorial pages of the Journal’s European edition. He was awarded an Overseas Press Club prize in 2015 for his coverage of the Ukraine crisis. He was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Commentary that year. The German Marshall Fund in 2004 awarded him its Peter Weitz Junior prize for excellence in reporting on European affairs for a series of columns about the EU. Born in 1971 in Poland, Matthew Kaminski emigrated to the United States in 1980 and grew up in Washington, DC. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Yale College and a master’s in international politics from the Centre Européen de Recherches Internationales et Stratégiques at the Free University of Brussels.

Jean-Paul Marthoz Jean-Paul Marthoz is a Belgian journalist, writer and teacher. He is member of the Europe advisory board of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ,New York), of the Advisory Board of the Ethical Journalism Network (EJN, London), of the Editorial advisory committee of Index of Censorship, and vice-chair of the Advisory Committee of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asiadivision. A foreign affairs columnist at Le Soir he teaches international journalism at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL, Belgium). Jean-Paul Marthoz has been foreign editor and chief of the editorial page of Le Soir (1980-1991), director of the Media for democracy Program at the International Federation of Journalists (1992-95), European press director of Human Rights Watch (1996-2006), editorial director of the foreign affairs quarterly Enjeux internationaux, and EU representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He is the author or coauthor of some 20 books on journalism, human rights and international relations. His latest book is Objectif Bastogne, the history of US war correspondents in the 1944 Battle of the Bulge.

Andrea Renda is a Senior Research Fellow and Head of Regulatory Policy at the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS) and a co-manager of the CEPS Digital Forum (www.digitalforum.eu). He is a Senior Fellow at Duke University's Kenan Institute for Ethics, and an Adjunct Professor a Duke Law School as well as at the College of Europe in Bruges. He provides academic advice to several institutions, including the European Commission, the European Parliament, the OECD, the ITU and the World Bank and many national governments. In the past years he was Part-time Professor at the European University Institute in Florence (Italy), Director of International Economics at the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI, 2011-2015) and Senior Lecturer of Law and Economics at Luiss Guido Carli University, in Rome. He also holds courses every year in Shanghai, Bruges, Stockholm. Andrea is member of the Editorial Board of the international peer-reviewed journals “Telecommunication Policy” (Elsevier) and of the European Journal of Risk Regulation (Lexxion); he is a member of the Scientific Board of the International Telecommunications Society (ITS) and is the Scientific Chair of the Scientific Board of EuroCPR since March 2014. Andrea Renda earned a BA cum laude in Economics from LUISS Guido Carli University, Rome, in 1995 and is European Master of Law and Economics (LL.M., with distinction, University of Hamburg, 1996). He holds a Ph.D. degree in Law and Economics awarded by the Erasmus University of Rotterdam.

Aidan White is the Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, a global campaign for media ethics, good governance and self-regulation which is currently carrying out work in the Western Balkans, Turkey, Pakistan, Africa and East Asia. Up to 2011, White worked in Brussels as General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists for 23 years. He is Irish and educated in Ireland and the United Kingdom where he learned his trade as a journalist. Before joining the IFJ he w orked with The Guardian, having served earlier as a reporter and senior editorial manager for leading regional and national newspapers in Britain. He is a former member of the British Press Council and helped appoint the Board of the new British media self-regulator IMPRESS. He is an authority on ethical journalism and media regulation and the author of the book To Tell You the TRUTH, published in 2008. In 2003 he founded the International News Safety Institute, a coalition of media, journalism support groups and media unions, which provides practical support for journalists and media in area of high risk. He is also a founder and board member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (1993), a network of international press freedom groups. He has also been Chairman of Internews Europe, a major media development agency and an adviser for the Media Diversity Institute in London. He   has produced reports on media and journalism policy for UNESCO, the ILO, UNICEF, the UN Human Rights Commission, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Union. 

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