The faculty of Political and Social Sciences is the result of the merger in October 2003 of the former faculty of Social Sciences at UFSIA and the faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the UIA.
Back in 1972, both universities were granted permission to offer degrees in Sociology. In line with other degrees offered by each university, there was a division between the first two years (candidate at UFSIA) and final two years (licentiate at UIA) of the course – a situation that lasted until the merger.
1980 saw the limited introduction of Political Sciences at UIA in the form of a teaching module named Political Decision Making. This was followed in 1988 by the introduction of a licentiate in International Politics (UIA) and a Special Licentiate in International Politics, a programme aimed at MA students. The first working students were admitted in 1984, and in 1990 an evening class module in Public Administration was added.
In 1993, UIA added a licentiate in Communication Studies, and this was followed by UFSIA's introducing a candidate in Communication Studies two years later. All this changed in 2004, when the Bachelor-Master structure was introduced.
At the moment, the faculty serves approximately 2000 students, spread across the various degree programmes. Despite the impressive growth in the number of programmes and students, the faculty has managed to maintain a relatively informal relationship between staff and students which is reminiscent of the early days.
Since the very beginning, research has lain at the heart of the faculty, as evidenced by the abundance of research reports, journal articles and monographs published over the decades.
For many years, the faculty was dominated in terms of staff numbers by the Sociology department, which allowed for the development of several large, productive research groups. Some of these were founded as early as the 1970s (CSB) and 1980s (OASeS). The main focus of these research groups lies on (social) policy research, with results typically being disseminated via research reports and monographs.
Once the range of degree programmes had been expanded, the faculty began to see an increase in staff from the disciplines of Political and Communication Sciences. This led to the establishment and growth of research groups in Political Sciences (in the 1990s) and Communication Sciences (in the 2000s).
These newer research groups mainly carry out fundamental rather than policy-enabling research, which results in the publication of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. With the generation switch almost complete, the faculty is now dominated by youngish staff who have already made their mark on research and certainly have the potential to do more. The emerging research model seems to be a combination of both fundamental and policy-enabling research and publications.
When the faculty moved to the Meerminne building in the spring of 2006, the staff were united in the heart of Antwerp for the first time. This generated a new drive, with colleagues from the same and different departments being able to meet each other in informal settings and forge new partnerships.