News from the IES

On Thursday 14 November, IES PhD candidate Stephan Klose defended his doctoral thesis on role theory’s added value for International Relations and EU studies. In his dissertation, Stephan addresses two shortcomings in the role theory literature – role theory’s conceptual ambiguity and the lack of engagement of role theorists in relevant disciplinary debates – which together have obscured role theory’s value for the study of international affairs. 

On Thursday 14 November IES-VUB hosted the first discussion in academia of the ‘Scaling Fences. Voices of Irregular African Migrants’to Europe’ report by UNDP-Africa. The report was presented by Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP assistant secretary-general and Mohamed Yahja, research director of the Scaling fences project. Almost 2000 irregular migrants in Europe were surveyed, from 39 different countries. 

On 24 October, Ilke Adam gave a keynote speech at the landmark European Conference ‘From Tampere 20 to Tampere 2.0. Towards a new programme (2020-24) for EU migration and asylum policies 20 years after the Tampere conclusions’. This conference brought together high-level policy makers, experts, academics and civil society leaders reflecting on the 20 years of European immigration policies and the way forward.  

Marco Giuli spoke about the challenges and opportunities with the energy transition in Italy in light of the EU's climate objectives at the annual Vanvitelli Forum, organised in The Hague by the Clingendael Institute and the Istituto Affari Internazionali with the support of the Dutch and Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

On 28 October and 1 November 2019, Prof. Luis Simon and Linde Desmaele presented their research on balance of power theory and regional prioritisation in US grand strategy at the Saltzman Institute for War and Peace Studies (Columbia University) and the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (Harvard University). The presentations were hosted by Prof. Robert Jervis (Columbia) and Prof. Steven Miller (Harvard) respectively.

In the context of a thematic 'research' week, the Spanish high school Institut Vall de Llémena has invited experts from different research areas to explain to the students how to conduct scientific research. Davesa disentangled the rationale behind social sciences research based on his own experience at the Institute for European Studies (IES) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Three years into the Trump administration’s “America First” approach to foreign policy, the president’s repeated criticisms of alliances, muddled messaging, and policy confusion have placed the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific alliance systems under strain. On October 29, scholars from the Brookings Institution, Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and the Asan Institute discussed the impact of these policies on America’s allies and examine the shifting geopolitical dynamics. 

On October 18, the EDGE Programme organised a full day of presentations, discussions and conversations on long-term challenges to democracy. The agenda included many activities to foster research creativity and intellectual exchange, from an academic speed-dating to the launch of the first ‘EDGE Book’, i.e. the edited volume on ‘The Edges of Political Representation. Mapping, Critiquing and Pushing the Boundaries’. Researchers and Professors from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and the Institute for European Studies, joined a roundtable discussion on the future challenges of democracy and a closing speech on “What Future for Parliamentary Politics and Democratic Engagement?”, by Cristina Leston-Bandeira (University of Leeds).

On November 9th, 2019, the world will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and all eyes will be on the German capital. Around this historical event the city will host an international Summit from November 6th-10th, 2019. On the evening of November 9, world-renowned singers and bands will perform a peace concert, paying tribute to the past 30 years without the Wall. Former IES Academic Director Prof. Dr. Luk Van Langenhove has been invited to deliver a keynote Address to this Summit. He will speak about “The Psychology of Walls and the need for Windows of Dialogue”.


On 16 October 2019 the VUB International Relations office organised its first Europe Day. The theme of the day was the 15th anniversary of the EU’s biggest enlargement, when 10 countries joined the European Union: Cyprus, Malta, Czech Republic, Hungary, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Part of the EU day programme was an academic panel debate, organised in cooperation with the Institute for European Studies at VUB (IES), the Jean Monnet Chair and International Relations Office.