VUB’s House of Sustainable Transitions takes interdisciplinary approach to sustainability challenges

VUB’s House of Sustainable Transitions takes interdisciplinary approach to sustainability challenges

More than 200 VUB researchers join forces for fundamental approach to sustainability

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) has today launched the interdisciplinary platform House of Sustainable Transitions. The global sustainability challenges we face transcend multiple areas of expertise and no single discipline can solve all the planet’s issues by itself. HOST, made up of more than 200 VUB scientists, aims to tackle issues relating to climate, biodiversity, quality of life and well-being in a systemic way, taking into account the many underlying connections. It will also work with other universities, business and politics to thoroughly and rapidly address the transition to a more sustainable world. This puts the VUB at the forefront of a large-scale and ambitious approach that will only grow in importance in the coming years.

The House of Sustainable Transitions (HOST) brings together more than 200 scientists from diverse disciplines, including climate science, politics, social and economic sciences, law, biology and the humanities. They will translate research into practical actions that offer a solution to the sustainability challenges faced by businesses, cities and citizens. HOST takes a systemic approach, investigating not only the symptoms of sustainability issues but also the underlying structures and patterns, as well as the underlying worldview. This will determine how a particular issue should be approached. Academics and partner stakeholders can thus get to the heart of an issue and develop solutions that have a wider impact.

“Science today must not remain in its ivory tower. It has to come out and address crucial challenges such as the sustainability transition. Science and research are needed to bring about change based on transdisciplinary collaboration. The HOST initiative plays an important role in achieving this breakthrough. Science contributes to transdisciplinary solutions that unite people, and we need cooperation across disciplines to break down silos, share knowledge and valorise innovative solutions for a green and just future,” says VUB rector Jan Danckaert.

Cooperation as a solution for sustainability

Sustainability spans many sectors, including mobility, logistics, energy, food and buildings, and relates to our economy, environment and society. To put this into practice, HOST will implement bootcamps and sustainability analysis and will mobilise a broad range of social actors. The bootcamps involve intensive knowledge and skills training, resulting in a transformative learning experience that enables participants to create a community committed to bringing about change. This can also be the starting point for common projects.

When analysing sustainability, HOST will objectively evaluate practices, products and business measures. Finally, mobilising people involves researchers developing a variety of approaches that engage stakeholders and citizens, enabling them to come up with joint solutions.

“Science is a binding catalyst for mobilising social actors such as business, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders based on evidence-based research. It bridges the gap between stakeholders, promotes dialogue and progress, and ensures compliance with sustainability regulations. HOST is an open house where scientists, businesses, organisations, policymakers and NGOs are welcome to meet. Out of this constructive dialogue and systemic perspective, together we will shape the much-needed sustainability transition faster,” says Prof Dr Cathy Macharis, HOST coordinator.


Keep up to date with all HOST news and developments via the newsletter ​ and the LinkedIn page. Collaborations are possible via [email protected].

© Thierry Geenen

More information

Prof. Dr. Cathy Macharis
​Coordinator House of Sustainable Transitions
[email protected]

Sam Jaspers
Sam Jaspers Perscontact wetenschap & onderzoek





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The Vrije Universiteit Brussel assumes its scientific and social responsibility with love and decisiveness. That’s why VUB launched the platform De Wereld Heeft Je Nodig – The World Needs You, which brings together ideas, actions and projects based on six Ps. The first P stands for People, because that’s what it’s all about: giving people equal opportunities, prosperity, welfare, respect. Peace is about fighting injustice, big and small, in the world. Prosperity combats poverty and inequality. Planet stands for actions on biodiversity, climate, air quality, animal rights... With Partnership, VUB is looking for joint actions to make the world a better place. The sixth and last P is for Poincaré, the French philosopher Henri Poincaré, from whom VUB derives its motto that thinking should submit to nothing except the facts themselves. VUB is an ‘urban engaged university’, strongly anchored in Brussels and Europe and working according to the principles of free research.


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