elective course for students

Reason and Engage is an elective course for students from 3rd bachelor onwards. Students from different study programs are stimulated to reflect on urgent social challenges. Throughout one academic year they work in  multidisciplinary teams on a project submitted by a Brussels organization, for which they develop a well substantiated proposal that the organization can use in its further operations. For more info and registration, see TAKE THIS COURSE.

lectures and activities open to all

Reason and Engage invites experts from different disciplines to share findings and opinions with students and the broader public. With our lectures, debates, workshops, guided tours... we want to facilitate dialogue and reflection among students, researchers, professionals and active citizens on some of the most urgent challenges of our times. All events take place at various locations in Brussels. They are free and open to all. For more info and registrations, see ATTEND AN ACTIVITY.

projects with Brussels-based organizations

Students who register for the course Reason and Engage work in multidisciplinary teams on a project submitted by a Brussels-based organization. The projects refers to a concrete challenge or need the organizations face with. The students are monitored to work out an innovative idea or proposal. For more info and submitting a proposal, see SUBMIT A PROPOSAL.

one central topic each year

Each year, Reason and Engage focuses on one central topic. The fifth edition (2019-2020) explores issues related to CLIMATE ACTION. What are the ingredients for efficient climate protest and just climate transition? In a series of four public lectures, Reason and Engage examines the climate challenge through different perspectives. For more info, see  ATTEND AN ACTIVITY. Curious about our previous editions? Take a look in OUR ARCHIVE.

with the support of

Reason & Engage exists thanks to the support and contributions of many people. Structural partners are: deMens.nu, Humanistisch Verbond - afdeling Brussel, Wtnschp, Crosstalks & Citizenne.


Who can register?

Reason and Engage is open for students from 3rd bachelor onwards and can also be taken by students following a bridging or preparational program. For registration, 120 ECTS need to be obtained within a bachelor's degree. VUB-students who want to take the course Reason and Engage can register via Student Self ServiceOther students should contact us via redelijk.eigenzinnig@vub.ac.be

Why register?

Reason & Engage explores contemporary social issues. Students are challenged to consider their own frame of reference and forms of individual and collective responsibility. Throughout one academic year students work on a specific project, submitted by a Brussels organisation. The course aims to give students the opportunity to gain practical experience, to get to know the research and professional field in Brussels, and to engage in society. Critical scientific reflection and active involvement are central pilars of the course.

How is the course organized?

Reason and Engage is a one-year program and exists in two variants: 3 or 6 credits. All contact hours take place on Tuesday evening, starting at 6 pm. For more information, take a look at the course information sheets: 3SP variant & 6SP variant.

The educational team?

Course titulars: Prof. dr. Karl Verstrynge; Prof. dr. Joke Bauwens

Student supervision: Linde Moriau (mail: Linde.Moriau@vub.be)

Public lectures and activities: Goedele Nuyttens (mail: Goedele.Nuyttens@vub.be)

Project proposals: Catherine Morel (mail: Catherine.Morel@vub.be)


Are you interested in taking the course Reason and Engage or any further questions? Come to the information session on Tuesday 2 October (Etterbeek campus, 11 am, room D3.14) and Thursday 4 October (Jette campus, 11 am, J. Auditorium 4 room).

This is what students thought about the previous editions:


Youth for Climate, Teachers for Climate, Students For Climate... and then it all set off. As early as 2014, Klimaatzaak (a non-profit organisation) criticised the Belgian authorities. Five years later, the citizens' protest has sparked the largest climate mobilisation ever. Young and old march the streets to reinforce their demand for effective measure to help tackle further global warming. But what type of protest is the most efficient to press politicians, companies, consumers... to act on climate change?  How far may civil disobedience go, and which elements are indispensable for a sustainable and just transition?

JOKE HERMSEN - Het tij keren (Lecture - DUTCH)




Swamp walk in the Zenne Garden (DUTCH)


SANDER VAN DER LINDEN - Empathy and Climate Change (Lecture - ENG)


Plannen voor plaats (film screening and talk - DUTCH)


ANNELEEN KENIS - Climate change in times of the Gilets Jaunes (Lecture - ENG)


Visit Atelier Groot Eiland (DUTCH)


Workshops @ Muntpunt (DUTCH)

11 FEB. 2020

Would you like to work with a multidisciplinary student team?

Reason and Engage students work in multidisciplinary teams on a project of by a Brussels-based (non-profit) organization. The projects are based on a challenge or a need the organizations are faced with. The students are guided to develop an innovative idea or proposal.

Taking into account the broad background of the students, the projects can be very diverse in nature. Students can, for example, contribute to the design of a prototype, a try-out, research inspiration or support for a certain idea, help in mapping good practices, the organization or evaluation of an event, and so on.

Submit your projectproposal!

Does your organization need fresh ideas, new perspectives, young people who can look at challenges and future plans along with you, from their experiences and expertise? Would you like to work with a multidisciplinary team of VUB-students? Submit a project proposal!

It is important that the proposal can be handled from various disciplines, and invites students to develop a well-founded point-of view on issues that can be related to the annual theme.

The project call for the '19-'20 edition was closed on 20 June 2019. For project proposals after this date, contact catherine.morel@vub.be



Find an overview of the project results from previous editions below.

Contact details

Need more information about Reason & Engage?

Contact redelijk.eigenzinnig@vub.ac.be

Reason and Engage team?

Course titulars: Prof. dr. Karl Verstrynge; Prof. dr. Joke Bauwens

Student supervision: Linde Moriau (mail: Linde.Moriau@vub.be)

Public lectures and activities: Goedele Nuyttens (mail: Goedele.Nuyttens@vub.be)

Project proposals: Catherine Morel (mail: Catherine.Morel@vub.be)

Where to find us?

Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus of the VUB

Pleinlaan 2 – 1050 Brussels (building C, 5th floor, room 451)

Tel: +32 (0)26292415

Program ’18-‘19

The fourth edition of Reason & Engage, we explored topics related to War, Conflict, Peace & Resistance, under the title Just Peace. For four evenings, Reason & Engage looked at the source and impact of war and conflicts. During the lectures, debate and workshops, researchers and students, along with the broader public and the professionals, looked for new foundations and visionary images for peace and justice, and investigated which role science, politics, education, art and media could play in constructing them.


Oct. 16, ’18 – Gertrudis Van de Vijver: ‘Immanuel Kant: To perpetual peace’

Oct. 30, ’18 – Joes Segal: ‘Art and Crisis’

Nov. 27, ’18 – Sophie de Schaepedrijver: ‘Remembering the war in public space’

Dec. 02, ’18 – Nils Duquet: ‘Guns for sale: Legal and illegal arms trade in Belgium’

Feb. 12, ’18 – Soirée with workshops on digital storytelling, interview techniques and socratic dialogues


Film heritage from the war past, in cooperation with Royal Belgian Film Archive (CINEMATEK)

Traces of War and Peace in Brussels, in cooperation with Royal Belgian Film Archive (CINEMATEK)

Conflict and Sexual Violence, in cooperation with University Center for Development Cooperation (UCOS)

Living Library for a peaceful, inclusive society, in cooperation with vzw Humanistic Youth

Sense and nonsense of military operations, in cooperation with vzw Vredesactie

Mind Over Media: contemporary propaganda under the microscope, in cooperation with Mediawijs – imec vzw

Signal Kanal: urbanism and conflict, in cooperation with Globe Aroma

Program ’17-‘18

The third edition of ‘Reason & Engage’ explored the impact of New Technologies. Will (bio)technology lead to a new human species? Who will guarantee our privacy? What is the impact of the increasing robotization on healthcare, jobs and aging? Will smart machines emancipate us from inhumane working conditions or will they make the social inequality increase? Will they pave a way for more sustainable production methods? Our Brave New World: Technocalypse or Technotopia?


Oct. 12, ’17 – Peter-Paul Verbeek: ‘Smart cities and citizens, a question of technology?’

Oct. 17, '17 - Mireille Hildebrandt & Bernard Manderick: 'Democracy (as a successful misunderstanding) in an algorithmic world'
Nov. 07, '17 - Sophie Wennerscheid & Bram Vanderborght: 'The science & fiction of human/robot relationships'
Nov. 21, '17 - Soirée with workshops, documentary, walks and debate
Feb. 13, '18 - Mitch Altman: 'Hacking, rethinking technology in collaboration'
Feb. 27, '18 - Soirée met workshops en debat
Mar. 20, '18 - Robert Riener: 'Human-centered technologies for movement assistance and rehabilitation'


DIY-BIOTECH, gene technology for everybody, in cooperation with Open BioLab Brussels (EhB)

Philosophy with the youth about Man and Technology, in cooperation with vzm Humanistic Youth

Bad behavior in cyberspace, in cooperation with CAW Brussel & VUB Meldpunt

Gender stereotypes 2.0, in cooperation with vzw Zijn

Refugee use of social media,  in cooperation with A Kind of Space

Culture policy in the digital age, in cooperation with Flemish Government, CJSM department

Arming undereducated people for the digital revolution, in cooperation with JES Brussels

Circular economy in Brussels, in cooperation with GoodPlanet

Program ’16-‘17

The theme of the academic year 2016-2017 was migration. Through lectures, workshops, debates, tours, testimonies,… a number of important questions, developments and challenges concerning migration were illuminated from different disciplines. The first semester, we focussed on the causes and the impact of migration. During the second semester, we examined questions in relation to participation and citizenship.

Oct. 10, '16 - Saskia Sassen: 'Migration and Expulsions'
Oct. 18, '16 - Bram Cleys: ‘Migration and development’
Nov. 08, '16 - Fred Mednick: 'Emergency Education'
Nov. 22, '16 - Soirée with workshops, documentary, walks and debate
Feb. 14, '17 - Mary Bosworth: 'Is immigration detention a form of punishment?'
Mar. 07, '17 - Nadia Fadil: 'On radicalisation. Critical perspectives on a contested paradigm'
Mar. 21, '17 - Soirée with workshops, documentary, walks and debate

Program ’15-‘16

In the first edition (2015-2016), the central topic was sustainability.

We explored 4 themes: sustainable science, sustainability and climate, approaching work in a sustainable way, sutainable mobility.

Oct. 13, '15 - Eric Corijn: Inaugural speech: 'A world in transition, a mission for this generation’
Oct. 20, '15 - Jean-Claude Burgelman: ‘Sustainable science’
Nov. 10, '15 - Philippe Huybrechts: ‘Climate and sustainability’
Feb. 16, '16 - Marc Elchardus: ‘Approaching work in a sustainable way’
Apr. 12, '16 - Paul De Knop: ‘Lifelong and sustainable mobility’

Zou je liever in het Nederlands verder lezen?

Onze Nederlandstalige webpagina vind je via deze link.