Researching Global Social Change

The Ghent Centre for Global Studies is an interdisciplinary platform that unites scholars from Social Sciences and Humanities at Ghent University around the critical study of globalisation and the interaction of local and global processes. Our research and education focuses on migration, borders and mobilities; political ecology of extractivism, commodification and environmental struggles; economic (de- & re-)regulations and urban-rural transformations; global governance and social movements fighting for a more just world. The Centre wishes to create knowledge as a tool for social change and contribute to the public debate on post-development and degrowth. To this end, the GCGS also collaborates with activists, NGO’s, policy-makers and artists.

In view of a just and sustainable future, the Ghent Centre for Global Studies proposes three interconnected ambitions in its study of global social change:

Critical – We subscribe to the longstanding tradition of critical social theory, and focus on analysing power relations and contestations, not just for the sake of academic research, but in view of contributing to social justice. We analyse intersecting inequalities as they are articulated in diverse global processes and local settings. This research into power and difference, rule and resistance, takes as its starting point the productivity of social struggles, as the drivers of global social change.

Relational – In keeping with this focus on the productivity of social struggles, we adopt a relational approach. Instead of seeing contemporary neoliberal forms of globalisation as abstract forces above and beyond the reach of local communities, we study global conditions as processes that are locally situated and (re)produced, in the past and in the present. We see the global in relation to the local, the urban in relation to the rural, the centre in relation to the margins, the human in relation to the non-human, academia in relation to society. We aim to bring in a multitude of perspectives and alternatives, in dialogue with social actors on the ground, in view of equitable solutions that allow for sustainable life on earth.

Decolonial – This relational approach ties in with our focus on interdisciplinary collaboration, as part of a broader ambition to contribute to the decolonisation of the knowledge we produce and the society we live in. Conscious of the fact that the university itself with its disciplinary organisation, inherited from its colonial roots, is part of the problem, we strive towards a decolonial approach. Aware that privilege creates blind-spots and biased knowledge, we aim to study how the periphery creates the centre. From and through the margins, we wish to co-create socially relevant knowledge, grounded in real-life social struggles, together with engaged social actors.

Steering committee


Julie Carlier


Ghent University
Department of Conflict and Development Studies
Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 41
9000 Ghent
tel: +32 (0)9 264 97 82