Portal for

Science Beyond Boundaries

The extra-curricular Honours Programme of VUB connects a group of motivated Honours students, selected from all faculties, with world-renowned experts. Together they debate and reflect on important scientific developments and their relation to society.

Design and goals

Searching for universality at the university. Looking beyond boundaries of the scientific disciplines. Reflecting on important scientific (r)evolutions and their impact on society. Interacting with internationally renowned experts in a truly transdisciplinary environment. These are the ingredients of the VUB Honours Programme – Science Beyond Boundaries.

Transdisciplinary character

The 19th century separation of science into different, isolated disciplines is counterproductive for important breakthroughs in the fundamental problems that our society faces today. Some of the most interesting scientific and societal questions that remain in this century must be solved with an interdisciplinary approach. Therefore, modern universities should not be composed of islands of different disciplines. In contrast, the interaction between students should mirror the interconnectedness between the disciplines and reflect the way that science is evolving in the 21st century.

The unique feature of Science Beyond Boundaries is its transdisciplinary character; key concepts from various scientific fields will meet, thus offering an encyclopedic tour of different scientific fields of knowledge. Following a flipped classroom strategy, the Honours students will take the lead in the debates with the experts.

All activities take place in Muntpunt in the city centre of Brussels under the overarching theme Big Data (see programme for the dates and the topics of the activities).

Honours Programme 2018-2019

Please find hereunder our coming events.

What is big data? (Introduction + Workshop)

Wednesday 14 November 2018, 18:30-21:00

What is the value of personal data?

Wednesday 5 December 2018, 18:30-21:00 

Can we avoid bias in data-driven decision making?

Wednesday 19 December 2018, 18:30-21:00

Educational tracking systems: what happens when algorithms start teaching?

Wednesday 20 February 2019, 18:30-21:00

The distraction economy: is technology eating away our attention?

Wednesday 6 March 2019, 18:30-21:00

Is big data fueling a new kind of science?

Wednesday 20 March 2019, 18:30-21:00

Data activism: How can we use big data for social goods?

Wednesday 3 April 2019, 18:30-21:00

Information, entropy and meaning: what is noise and what is data?

Wednesday 24 April 2019, 18:30-21:00

Provisions and certificate

Successful attendance in the VUB Honours Programme implies the participation in at least seven of the activities offered and taking a leading role in at least two of them.

Taking a leading role means preparing the debate and writing a popularizing or opinionative piece after the debate. Participation therefore requires clear effort and commitment.

You can submit your online application when you have acquired at least 60 credits and have achieved good study results (at least the equivalent of 'distinction').

An Honours Certificate, signed by the Rector, will endorse your successful participation in the Programme.

How to apply?

If you are interested in participating in the VUB honours programme you can apply by filling out the application form before 21 October 2018.

VUB Honours Programme

Application form

For more information about the VUB Honours Programme, send us a mail at honoursprogramme@vub.ac.be


This is what your fellow students say about their participation in the VUB honours programme.

Constantin Blaschke

Stimulating, enriching and thought-provoking - the Honours Programme!

Over the course of the year, like-minded, bright and curious students from different academic backgrounds and cultures come together to debate topics and themes outside of their intellectual and professional comfort zones. Though challenged at first - desperately trying to comprehend the technical and theoretical - you are quickly enabled to fully participate. Captivating discussions, at once practical and philosophical, draw on the insight of inspiring expert speakers from the worlds of academia and business - ideas and debates which stay with you long after the session is over.

A great place to learn, grow and network, the Honours programme is a fantastic opportunity for any motivated student with a lively curiosity looking to embrace new challenges.

Constantin Blaschke, Master in Communication Studies, 2018/19

Ibrahim Sunkanmi Saliu

An opportunity to access multidisciplinary perceptions about certain global issues

The dynamic nature of the world makes it very important to keep up with trends and make contextual decisions to guide and shape the future. Path dependence and established epistemologies across all fields in our society no longer seem to be enough for making such decisions, endangering paradigm shifts across multiple disciplines. It is an important endeavour for data to be collected, organized, understood and used to make inferences that will enable evident-based decision-making. This was my motivation for application to the VUB Honours programme (Science beyond boundaries: Big data and our society).

My experience as an honour student was most pleasing and informative as it was an opportunity to access multidisciplinary perceptions about certain global issues. Some of the issues discussed include artificial intelligence and its various applications, the value of personal data, data-driven decision-making, ethical concerns to the use of advanced technology, distraction economy and social interaction, etc. The opportunities I had with some of my colleagues to anchor different sessions of the programme served as avenues for me to learn about specific concerns during preparations for the sessions by reading several informative materials. This also improved certain skills such as presentation skills, teamwork spirit, sense of responsibility and writing skills.

It was amazing to experience different experts specialized in similar areas of interest argue about the same topics. Further, they helped initiate critical thinking during round-table discussions and gave views that we as honour students might have overlooked or neglected during our preparation and presentation.

Conclusively, the honours programme presented an opportunity for networking with different scholars from different disciplines, enhancement of both personal and professional skills, facilitating learning in a conducive environment, reflecting on global issues and proffering sustainable solutions.

Ibrahim Sunkanmi Saliu, 2nd year Master of Science in Tropical Biodiversity and Ecosystems (TROPIMUNDO), 2018/19