VUB honorary doctorate for Yuval Noah Harari

VUB honorary doctorate for Yuval Noah Harari

With the presentation of a VUB honorary doctorate to Yuval Noah Harari on 27 January, VUB rector Caroline Pauwels explains the importance of Harari’s work for the university and its students. “He has a synthesising mind, he is interdisciplinary. This has awakened people all over the world.” Harari is in Belgium at the invitation of Newsweek magazine. Harari will be in Belgium at the invitation of Newsweek magazine. In the attachments you will find the laudation Caroline Pauwels gave during the presentation of the honorary doctorate in the Lotto Arena. You will also find pictures of the ceremony.

The author will receive the honorary doctorate for his years of work on the history and future of mankind and his critical thinking on technological evolutions. According to Caroline Pauwels, thinkers like Harari are of fundamental importance to the university, “because science begins with questions, the Socratic method. That is essential for education and therefore for the future of our young people”. The fact that Harari, as a historian, thinks about the future so deeply and from so many perspectives makes him an ideal guide for the youngest generation of students. After all, it is the 21-year-olds of today who will help shape the 21st century. That is why Pauwels is awarding the honorary doctorate alongside 21 VUB students and dedicates the title to everyone who is 21 in the 21st century.

“Harari has given people a consciousness. He is concerned about the danger of increasing inequality if we allow major technological players to take over all aspects of our daily lives,” she explains. “Only well-informed and critical citizens have the power to persuade policymakers to take such evolutions in the right direction. In that respect, Harari’s insights can be particularly inspiring to our students and relevant to just about any discipline.”

Harari will be in Belgium on 27 January at the invitation of Newsweek magazine. VUB will present him with the title Doctor Honoris Causa that day. After the presentation, Harari will give a presentation in the Lotto Arena in Antwerp in which he will discuss a number of important social topics:

o The mental future of mankind under the influence of artificial intelligence.

o The physical future of mankind under the influence of upcoming medical revolutions such as gene-editing.

o The common future of mankind.


More about Yuval Noah Harari

Harari was born in Israel in 1976 and today works at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He initially focused his research on world history, on topics such as the relationship between history and biology or the differences between homo sapiens and other animals.

Today, however, Harari focuses on the future of mankind in the 21st century and the role that technology will play in it. He predicts that technology and humans will merge more and more. Because of this, he believes the current interpretation of the concept of humanism – where man is regarded as an autonomous being with free will – needs to be redefined. Moreover, Harari points out that technology may lead to growing inequality, because wealthy citizens will have easier access to it. These themes have also been addressed in his bestselling books Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, which have sold 19 million copies worldwide.

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