The research undertaken at the Faculty of Social Sciences covers a wide variety of topics, ranging from international relations and peace research over the effect of the media on society to the impact of intercultural contact and migration. It addresses both fundamental social processes and policy-oriented issues. Research findings are published in a variety of outlets, ranging from policy reports for the government to articles in leading national and international journals.
Thanks to its wide-ranging research activities, the Faculty of Social Sciences has established itself as an essential part of the current academic landscape and is able to achieve the University's threefold mission of teaching, research and community engagement. Researchers at the Faculty of Social Sciences conduct innovative research in four disciplines: anthropology, communication studies, political science and sociology.
The Faculty is divided into several research units, each with its own research focus. Research units plays a coordinating role and encourage the development of joint research projects, while safeguarding academic freedom.
- The Institute for Anthropology in Africa (IARA) investigates the political and social challenges facing the African continent through fieldwork, participant observation, case studies and historiographic research from an anthropological perspective.
- At the Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre (IMMRC), anthropologists study the reciprocal influences of intercultural contact and migration as well as the potential risks to ethno-cultural minorities.
- Communication studies are represented by the Institute for Media Studies (IMS), which conducts research into the application and impact of various new media. Other research projects focus on film studies or developments in popular culture.
- Research at the School for Mass Communication Research (SMC) focuses on the effects of the media - in the broadest sense - on society. SMC also undertakes research on strategic internal and external communication.
- Research at the Centre for Political Research (CP) covers issues such as election research, citizenship and the functioning and history of institutions.
- The Leuven International and European Studies (LINES) is dedicated to the study of international relations, European integration, peace research, and the political and social constellation in post-Wall Eastern Europe.
- The purpose of the Public Management Institute (IO) is to study the efficiency and effectiveness of public administration, from a national and an international perspective. The government frequently relies on its expertise.
- The Centre for Sociological Research (CeSO) takes both a qualitative and a quantitative approach to social phenomena. Researchers at CeSO have a broad range of research interests, such as population sociology, social policy, (political) opinion research, theoretical sociology, sociology of labour, etc. Much of the research undertaken at the Centre has a strong social relevance, allowing the Faculty of Social Sciences to contribute authoritatively to public debate.
In 2011, the first Faculty-wide research centre was set up: the Centre for Research on Peace and Development (CRPD) is a multidisciplinary research centre which conducts conceptual,empirical and applied research into the causes of violent conflicts and the challenges of sustainable peace building.