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Wed, 23 Mar



Why pandemic preparedness needs a society-wide approach

Session organizers: Prof. Anne-Mieke Vandamme, Koen Deforche. Moderator: Koen Deforche.

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Tijd en Locatie

23 Mar 2022, 16:45 – 17:45

KVS, Arduinkaai 7, 1000 Brussel, België

Info & agenda

In February 2020, before the pandemic hit Belgium, the Institute for the Future at KU Leuven gathered a learning team for pandemic preparedness, consisting of academic experts from various research institutes and disciplines (medicine, psychology, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, communication sciences, economy, engineering, law, pedagogy etc.), as well as crucial stakeholders and societal actors (Koning Boudewijn Stichting, WHO, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals, social media representatives, entrepreneurs, etc.) to monitor the course of the pandemic and to draw lessons for the future.

As with many societal challenges, such as poverty or climate change, pandemic preparedness is a wicked problem: it involves multiple problems that compete and conflict with each other. More than two years into the pandemic, society still struggles with issues that remain unresolved and thus re-emerge. As a pandemic is not only a medical crisis, but above all a societal crisis, a monodisciplinary or even interdisciplinary approach does not suffice. Instead, a transdisciplinary approach is required which not only transgresses the boundaries between academic disciplines but also engages in mutual learning with societal actors based on their knowledge and lived experiences.

"In an increasingly complex world, we can't avoid shocks — we can only build better shock absorbers."

Chris Anderson, Editor-in-chief of Wired

This session will introduce the concept of Pandemic Preparedness Goals, inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals, and discuss with panel members whether such goals could be a good framework for a broader discussion within the society to achieve better preparedness for a future pandemic.


  • Short talk by Anne-Mieke Vandamme. 
  • Panel discussion with Nawal Farih, Anne-Mieke Vandamme, Tim Pauwels.
  • Presenting the challenge "Future of Pandemic Preparedness" at the Institute for the Future, by Master students Tam Nguyen and Reven dela Peña.


Nawal Farih, Rapporteur of the special committee responsible for investigating Belgium's handling of the Covid19 epidemic.

Tim Pauwels, ombudsman VRT.

Prof. Anne-Mieke Vandamme, KU Leuven.

Tam Nguyen, Master student of Science in Business Administration, KU Leuven campus Antwerp.

Reven dela Peña, Master student of Cultural Anthropology and Development Studies, KU Leuven.


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