Caroline Pauwels – Honorary Director SMIT & Honorary Rector VUB (*2022)
Caroline Pauwels studied Philosophy (UFSIA) and Communication Sciences (VUB). She was the Rector of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel from 2016 till 2022. Prior to that, she was Director at SMIT, a position which she started in 2000. In 2014, she received the Francqui Chair at Ghent University, and between 2012 and 2016 she held the Jean Monnet Chair. She was part of many boards and councils, for example, as government commissioner at the VRT and as member of the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and Arts.
In 2015, she organized the first World Difference Day, that focuses attention on freedom of speech and media. It is something she held close to her heart and she was happy to initiate an event on this topic. That year, 800 people came to the Bozar to discuss this fundamental freedom. The enthusiasm and interest inspired two more Difference Days to follow. In addition to having a debate, World Difference Day also honours people or institutes that express or promote freedom of speech.