KU Leuven

Open Rank Professor Position in Digitalization and Society

2024-08-01 (Europe/Brussels)
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KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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The fulltime professor position (open rank) will be held at the Leuven School for Mass Communication Research, a research unit within the Department of Communication Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, KU Leuven (Belgium). KU Leuven represents a leading academic institution in Europe that is currently the largest university in Belgium in terms of research funding and expenditure. The university’s mission is to provide excellence in academic education and research and to offer a distinguished service to society. Owing to KU Leuven’s cutting-edge research, KU Leuven is a charter member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU) and is consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in Europe. Within KU Leuven, the Leuven School of Mass Communication Research (SMCR) represents a pioneering institution for media effects research. The research focus of SMCR lies on the use of information- and entertainment media (including social media, ICT, television, games, mobile devices), and on how these uses may harm or enhance various components of individuals’ wellbeing and social cohesion. We have a strong expertise in explaining the processes through which various forms of media use affect physical, psychological and social wellbeing in the long run, and the conditions under which these processes occur. Therefore, a series of advanced methods are applied, including longitudinal survey studies, daily diary studies and content analysis. Issues studied in recent years include, for example, alcohol and drug use, (positive) sexuality and sexism, risk taking, depression, self-harm, (positive) body image, and mental and physical wellbeing. The School adheres to the highest academic standards and strives towards publishing its research in top academic journals (e.g., Journal of Communication, Human Communication Research, New Media & Society, Media Psychology). SMCR staff is involved in various national and international multidisciplinary research projects, primarily of fundamental nature but also with societal relevance.
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You will be expected to develop an international research program, to aim at excellent scientific output of international level, and support and promote the School for Mass Communication Research in national and international research collaborations. These research efforts should be situated in the broad field of digitalization and society. Digital natives grow up in a world in which digital media technologies influence all spheres of individual development, social life and society. Relatedly, adults are increasingly governed by digital media platforms to which they seem endlessly connected. Accordingly, digitalization intersects with human challenges associated with staying healthy, developing advanced cognitive structures and building meaningful social ties. Digitalization brings along risks but can simultaneously also empower (young) individuals in their health, education, social and romantic relationships, political participation and managing their overall day-to-day lives. 
The role of digitalization in individual’s life and, more generally, society at large, is expected to be central in the research of the applicant. More precisely, your research focuses on the development of innovative theory and advanced research techniques in this field. You have a strong background in predominantly quantitative research methods and have demonstrated research excellence in various ways (e.g., top ranked ISI publications, awards, societal impact etc.).
With this vacancy we aim to further strengthen the research and complement the expertise at SMCR. We are looking for a candidate with a strong experience in the understanding of the mechanisms that underlie transformations in individuals and broader human culture as a result of digitalization. 
Specifically, with this position we aim to further strengthen and expand the research at SMCR. Consequently, your research is expected to relate to the aforementioned lines of research of SMCR and to complement this research in one or more ways.
We welcome excellent scholars who complement SMCR research lines on digitalization in terms of (1) themes (e.g., (but not limited to) education (e.g., digital skills, disinformation, misinformation, creativity, digital divide..), artificial intelligence (algorithmic awareness, chatbot interactions, …), civic engagement (e.g., political self-efficacy), social capital (e.g., parental and peer communication and ties, …), health (e.g., digital well-being, health communication…)  and/or (2) quantitative methods (e.g., (but not limited to) ESM research, the development and testing of mediated promotion and intervention campaigns, computational and digital social science methods, statistical modelling, data visualization, or psychophysiological research), and/or (3) audiences (e.g., (but not limited to) minorities, people with addictions). In close collaboration with SMCR staff, you contribute to the existing lines of research and set up your own program through the acquisition of research funding.


The Department of Communication Science, consisting of two research groups SMCR and IMS, organizes the Bachelor and Master of Communication Science, and the (English) Masters in Digital Media and Society and Journalism. Your teaching will contain several courses at the Bachelor’s and Master’s level and will include theoretical and methodological courses on communication science. You supervise students working on their master thesis and PhD students.
Your teaching is expected to meet the KU Leuven standards regarding academic program level and orientation and to be in keeping with the educational vision of KU Leuven. Commitment to the quality of education as a whole is naturally expected.


You provide scientific, societal and internal services. This is reflected, among other things, in a constructive contribution to education and research, as part of a team's collective projects (e.g. through participation in meetings, teacher days, information sessions, recruitment activities, exchange programs), and service to the academic community (e.g., service to academic associations such as ICA and journals (reviews)), education (e.g., participation in program committee meetings), and faculty (e.g., participation in faculty council etc.) You have an elaborate network of important stakeholders in the field, and have collaborated with these stakeholders to create societal impact and disseminate research.


Applicants hold a Ph.D. degree in communication sciences, social sciences, psychology, or an equivalent diploma. We seek a scholar with a broad theoretical- and interdisciplinary interest and a strong background in quantitative research methods, whose research both relates to and complements the current research lines at SMCR. The successful candidate has an excellent research record as evidenced by more than one dimension, e.g., the quality of their PhD research, high-level publications in the important journals of our field (i.e., ICA journals) and related fields, research impact (e.g., citations) and acquired research funding. We attach great importance to professional and value-driven behavior, an attitude of sharing, mentoring and inclusivity, and collegiality, and will encourage the candidate to collaborate with SMCR researchers as well as with interdisciplinary research groups and centers within KU Leuven. The candidate has a large international network and is eager to further develop this within the context of SMCR.
Applicants have demonstrated excellent teaching skills (including when teaching for large groups) and have a broad employability due to in-depth and detailed knowledge about the social sciences, media sociology and media psychology. In addition, the candidate has demonstrated excellent leadership skills (e.g., through the (current) supervision of PhD students), and is a strong team player.
The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch and there is a legal requirement to become proficient in Dutch up to a certain level. If you do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take part in administrative meetings and over time to teach in Dutch. A thorough knowledge of English is required.


We offer a full-time employment in an intellectually challenging and international environment. You will work in Leuven, a historic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, within 20 minutes from Brussels, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam.
Depending on your experience and qualification, the position will be at one of the levels of the senior academic staff (Tenure Track Professor, Associate Professor, Full Professor). Junior researchers are appointed as assistant professor on the tenure track for a period of five years; after this period and a positive evaluation, they are permanently appointed (or tenured) as  an associate professor. For professors without substantial other funding (e.g., ERC),  a starting grant of 110.000 euro is offered to facilitate scientific onboarding and accelerate research in the first phase. 
The expected starting date is 1 January 2025.
Immediately upon starting you will be able to independently develop your own line of research, serve as a supervisor of dissertations, and raise your own research funding.
KU Leuven welcomes international scholars and their family and provides practical support with regard to immigration and administration, housing, childcare, learning Dutch, partner career coaching,…


For more information please contact:

Prof. Dr. Laura Vandenbosch (Research director School for Mass Communication Research), mail: Laura.Vandenbosch@kuleuven.be. 

Prof. Dr. Stef Aupers (Program director Communication Sciences), mail: Stef.Aupers@kuleuven.be 

Prof. Dr. Steven Eggermont (Dean Faculty of Social Sciences), mail: Steven.Eggermont@kuleuven.be 

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

Job details

Open Rank Professor Position in Digitalization and Society
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-08-01 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-08-01 23:59 (CET)
Job type
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