The Vandeputte Chair, the first privately funded chair in Antwerp, has given a solid boost to scientific research into the science of safety.
In the business world, safety has long been high on the agenda. The academic world always showed less interest, but last year a change was brought about by the University of Antwerp. The previous academic year was the first time a master's in safety sciences was included in the academic programme. It has been a huge success: for the current academic year, 27 students have already enrolled for this two-year course.
With the establishment of the Vandeputte Chair – PhD in Safety Sciences, scientific research in this area has been given a boost. Over a period of four years, Karolien van Nunen will be carrying out research for a doctorate with regards to the evaluation and improvement of the quality of the various domains that make up the safety culture in an organization. Van Nunen will be the first to acquire a PhD in safety sciences.
For a period of four years, the Vandeputte Chair guarantees funds to pay the PhD students' staff expenses together with the associated budget, all funded entirely by Gilbert Vandeputte, former CEO of Vandeputte.
About the reason for the donation, Gilbert Vandeputte has the following to say: "My entire life has been dedicated to safety. During my career, I provided a lot of safety training courses to people across many different sectors. But there was always something missing. Safety was not dealt with academically, there was no such thing as 'safety sciences'."
"The degree in safety sciences at the University of Antwerp is a huge opportunity for me. Most likely this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Scientific research into safety needs to ensure that over time people's behaviour will change."