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The Scientific revolution of 21st century

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20 May 2019



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Goudsbloemstraat 50, Leuven






Scientific advances and societal evolution have always gone hand by hand in History, so how can science help to solve the challenges of the 21st century? The experts in this session will help us to deal with climate change, social inequalities, industrial production or politics from a scientific perspective.

Why we cannot ask shopkeepers to solve the climate crisis

Gerard Govers

Professor, Vice Rector and Head of the Sustainability Office

Imagine you run a shop and you must decide when to start your sales. Early sales will increase your volume and profit, at least if you are the only shopkeeper doing so. But what if all other shops would also start early? Would you still profit from your decision? You may wonder what this problem has to do with environmental sustainability and the mitigation of climate change. In fact, quite a lot. In this talk, we will explore these parallels and their implications in combatting climate change effectively. It may change your vision on where your priorities should be with respect to climate change.

Spaceship Landing on Earth

KU Leuven

No stars in their eyes? Political parties and the EU

Gilles Pittoors

PhD Fellow in Political Science, GASPAR

Democratic politics in Western Europe depend on two fundamental concepts: the nation-state and political parties. A hot topic nowadays is how European integration affects, or even challenges, the traditional nation-state. But how do political parties respond to this (not entirely) new, supranational level? Parties barely (if at all) discuss European policies, nor do they adapt their internal organisation accordingly. Yet parties remain fundamental to our democracies. During this talk, we will discuss the role of parties in the democratic nature of the EU and how to reconcile these two.

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Ghent University

How to spot unconscious bias and how to fight it

Nellie Konijnendijk

Policy officer equality and diversity

We are all witnessing prejudices (or bias) on a daily basis by politicians, world leaders and/or in the media. Yet, we do not always realize how often we are exposed to bias in our day-to-day interactions or how it affects us and the people around us. How can we detect if prejudice is at play in our own environment? How can we know if we unintentionally take part in it? And what can we do about it? In this talk, we will discuss how scientists detect prejudices in academia, what this research teaches us and how we can use it to reduce prejudice and inequality around us.

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KU Leuven

Writing enzyme’s symphonies

Matthieu Da Costa

PhD Fellow, Center of Synthetic Biology

The living world is made of well-composed arrangements of chemical reactions. Without the help of molecular machines, called enzymes, many of these reactions would be too slow to sustain life. Therefore, nature has designed powerful catalysts to speed up and facilitate life processes. Humankind quickly understood their value and began to exploit them for commercial purposes. However, outside of their natural environment, enzymes are not as efficient as they could be. In this talk, we will see how, thanks to progress in biotechnology, we are now able to fine-tune them to unravel all their industrial capacities.

Spaceship Landing on Earth
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Ghent University

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