10th edition of Difference Day at Bozar focuses on independent reporting in times of war, intimidation and polarisation

10th edition of Difference Day at Bozar focuses on independent reporting in times of war, intimidation and polarisation

VUB-ULB Honorary Title for Freedom of Expression awarded to Israeli-Palestinian news platform +972 Magazine and Polish film director Agnieszka Holland


European Gala Award Ceremony on Thursday 2 May (19.00-23.00), Students’ Speakers Corner (12.00-13.30) and Difference Day (13.30-19.00) on Friday 3 May, Bozar, Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussels



Dear journalist,


Each year on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and a number of partners organise Difference Day. This year is the 10th edition, and you are warmly invited to attend. By organising this annual major event, our intention is to draw continuing attention to the importance of press freedom and free speech. ​


Honorary titles – 2 May

On the eve of the event, on Thursday 2 May, we will present the VUB-ULB Honorary Title for Freedom of Expression. This year’s laureates are the independent Israeli-Palestinian news platform +972 Magazine and the acclaimed Polish film director Agnieszka Holland, whose recent film Green Border criticised the perilous situation of refugees on the border between Belarus and Poland. VRT journalist Annelies Beck will host the event. Among the speakers are rectors Jan Danckaert (VUB) and Annemie Schaus (ULB), VUB professor Ike Picone and philosopher and curator of the Pauwels Academy of Critical Thinking Alicja Gescinska. We will of course also hear from the laureates: Agnieszka Holland and Ghousoon Bisharat, editor-in-chief of +972 Magazine.


In Green Border, Holland portrayed the harrowing situation and inhumane treatment of refugees in the border region between Poland and Belarus. She garnered international praise, but was also the subject of a hate campaign.


+972 Magazine is an independent news platform – with journalists and other staff from both Israel and Palestine – that continues to seek out the facts in an exceptionally polarised, violent and tense context.


Difference Day – 3 May

Former VUB rector Caroline Pauwels (1964-2022) was the creator of Difference Day, a major event at Bozar with debates, lectures and other multimedia activities relating to press freedom and freedom of expression. The motto of the event is “speak freely, listen respectfully, different opinions matter”. ​ ​


Difference Day begins, appropriately, with the sixth edition of Students’ Speakers Corner between 12.00 and 13.30, where students from VUB, EhB and ULB are free to deliver inspiring speeches.


The main programme features four sessions: ​


Act 1: Freedom of expression and the climate crisis, 13.45-14.30

Act 2: Impunity towards crimes against journalists, 14.30-15.15

Act 3: AI and press freedom, 16.00-16.45

Act 4: An inside view, 16.45-17.30 (Alicja Gescinska interviews Honorary Title for Freedom of Expression 2024 laureates).


Difference Day 2024 is organised by the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Université libre de Bruxelles, Erasmushogeschool Brussel and Bozar, with the support of the European Parliament, Unesco and a number of other national and international partners. ​


Consult the complete programme


The presentation of the Difference Day Honorary Title takes place during the European Gala Award Ceremony for Freedom of Expression, on Thursday 2 May at 19.00 at Bozar, Ravensteinstraat 23, 1000 Brussels. To attend the ceremony as a journalist, please contact Peter Van Rompaey at peter.van.rompaey@vub.be or 0477 96 51 14.


The Students’ Speakers Corner and Difference Day on Friday 3 May are open to all, but we recommend registering[ST1] . ​


Peter Van Rompaey
Peter Van Rompaey Senior advisor corporate communications en rectorcommunicatie



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