Hannah Arendt Institute focuses on diversity, urbanity and citizenship

On Wednesday 27 May 2020, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and the University of Antwerp have launched the Hannah Arendt Institute for Diversity, Urbanity and Citizenship. The institute is an initiative of the two universities and is supported by the city of Mechelen and Bart Somers, Flemish Minister for Home Affairs, Public Governance, Civic Integration and Equal Opportunities.

In December, the VUB and the UAntwerp jointly launched the knowledge platform Diversity, Urbanity and Citizenship, a unique partnership between the two universities. In addition to this scientific platform will now have an educational centre that focuses on translating academic insights to professional target groups and the general public. These two pillars form the Hannah Arendt Institute for Diversity, Urbanity and Citizenship.

The new Hannah Arendt Institute will address social challenges such as migration, diversity and socioeconomic and political deprivation, as they are most strongly expressed in an urban context, and the broad societal impact of globalisation, ecological disruption, digitisation and the pressure on human rights and democratic values. In that context, the centre wants to make a fundamental contribution to the social debate and living together in the city. Christophe Busch will take on the daily management of the institute. As its home base, the institute will have a side wing of the Mechelen city hall, which will also contain space for workshops.

All members of the Hannah Arendt Instituut with a banner in front of the Mechelen city hall

USI chair Stijn Oosterlynck (right) is one of the initiators of the Hannah Arendt Institute, here holding the banner with Pieter Ballon (director imec-SMIT, VUB).

Who was Hannah Arendt?

The German-Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was one of the most important political thinkers of the twentieth century. She emphasized the importance of connectedness, conversation and plurality for a democracy. Her studies on the nature of power, the public sphere and the political, direct democracy, freedom, civil disobedience, violence, authority, and totalitarianism still contain particularly relevant lessons for today's challenges.