for education, research and information on and for families
The Higher Institute for Family Sciences was founded in 1960 by
the Belgian League of Families. Today our institute is a partner
in the 'Hogeschool-Universiteit
Brussel (HUBrussel)', a consortium of several colleges in Brussels
Our objectives are:
- to offer and develop interdisciplinary training courses which
investigate families and family related problems in all their aspects;
- to stimulate scientific research on family relations and social
problems related to families, and to disseminate its results;
- to provide an information service to the public and to decision
makers on family related topics.
The mission of the Higher Institute for Family Sciences is to
disseminate and strengthen the knowledge about family, education
and related problems in contemporary society.
We believe that long lasting and sustainable relationships are
important for men and women. Personally and socially men and women
can grow and feel comfortable in these relationships. For education
and giving trust and comfort to children and young people durable
relationships are even more important.
In order to reach these sustainable relations, they should be based
- the agreement of some values as honesty, responsibility, care
for each other and respect for personal integrity;
- real equal opportunities for men and women in society so that
they both can participate in family life on an equal basis;
- an equally shared responsibility for the children by men and women.
- The education of and relationship with children should be based
on the principles agreed in the Convention on the Rights of the
We know many people face many obstacles and difficulties in trying
to reach this ideal situation. Although we believe in sustainable
relations, we respect and support the variety of different family
structures. Concerned with the well-being of adults and children,
we try to make professionals aware of the importance of family life.
1. The Higher Institute for Family Sciences
as a center for education
On our campus we offer two formal courses,
organized by the HUB, accredited by the Flemish Government and added to the Flemish
Register for Higher Education:
1.1. Bachelor in Family Sciences
In our educational system the family, the basis of
all human relationships, hardly gets any attention. Still, modern
society puts a lot of pressure on family relationships. Citizens
as well as professionals in social work, in education and in other
areas, are confronted with problems related to disturbed family
relationships, and feel the need to better understand and respond
to these problems.
The training course ‘Bachelor in Family Sciences’ answers
this need by examining the relationships between spouses, children
and other family members, along with related issues in the social,
medical, juridical and economic fields.
The training course is particularly designed for:
- Professionals and volunteers in social work.
They will find here a thorough update of theory and skills, in
order to support people from the family-oriented viewpoint more
- Persons who feel that their vocational training
and occupation is too unilaterally oriented towards career making
and who feel the need to pay more attention to and care more for
emotional and relational problems.
- Persons who want, in general, to get a better
understanding of the complexity, diversity and depth of human
- Persons who want to achieve more satisfactory
relationships as a spouse or as a parent with their partner or
with their children.
- Parents working at home who want to situate
the problems they encounter inside or outside their family in
a broader context, or who have to overtake arrears caused by the
period of child care and housekeeping, or who want to find a new
The Higher Institute for Family Sciences considers it its task
to develop a continuing education, in which are offered, from different
scientific viewpoints, elements for a thorough and differentiated
understanding of family problems and relationships.
In the first disciplines which give us insight in
family and relationship problems are treated.
The second year studies the relation to oneself, to others and to
the wider community.
The third year deals with policy aspects, relational conflicts and
provision of assistance in this respect.
The students have the choice between two study areas: 'children
& adolescents' and 'adults and elder persons'. In both areas
attention is paid to the institutional and juridical framework of
the assistance dealt with.
The interdisciplinary approach in the years of study gets more
emphasis in project work groups (about 1/5 of the number of hours
With a view to the concrete social intercourse with others, daily
life practice, professional assistance and voluntary work, some
methodological subjects are inserted in the program each year. Moreover
in the first year a training is organized about ‘listening’,
in the second year about ‘speaking’. In the third year
is dealt with the interaction between both (interpersonal process
In the second year all students are assessed on their professional
skills and experience; those who lack the necessary professional
skills and experience, perform an extra practical training of 120
hours in a professional organization.
1.2. Postgraduate course on Psychosocial
This course focuses on how individuals, as they grow older, apply
all their different skills and possibilities to respond to the challenges
they are confronted with. We want to avoid senior citizens being
addressed in terms of their age or frailties.
Contents of the course
Senior citizens are approached in their daily life situations and
as citizens with economic and cultural rights and duties. The emphasis
lies on supporting the formal and informal integration of senior
citizens, both of those who need assistance, and of those who are
making a significant contribution to society. This support is not
limited to specific situations but is a continuous, dynamic and
lifelong process. The training seeks to translate supporting principles
flexibly in divergent situations.
Objectives and target groups
- Increasing the effectiveness of professionals
in welfare work, socio-cultural work, teaching (for example personal
care teachers, training institutions) and services (both public
administrations and private organizations).
- Increasing the effectiveness of senior citizens
(as consultants and assistants to younger and older persons) and
their ability to live independently, so that they can live as
long as possible in their familiar home surroundings and participate
in all social activities in the community.
- Strengthening social cohesion: younger and older
people together studying the process of aging in our society increases
mutual understanding and inter-generational solidarity.
- Providing a background vision to all important
players and in particular to general care providers and active
volunteers in organizations.
The Higher Institute for Family Sciences as a center for research
The Higher Institute for Family Sciences not only provides courses,
but is also active as a 'Knowledge Centre'. With our research activities,
publications, debates and other events, we provide decision makers
and professional organisations with actual knowledge on family matters,
and we stimulate the public debate on family related topics and
Research Projects & Debates
The Higher Institute for Family Sciences conducts and stimulates
scientific research on family relations and social problems related
to families. We disseminate the results in publications and by organizing
debates and colloquiums.
>> Learn all about the 'Higher
Institute for Family Sciences: Centre of Knowledge on and for Families',
its projects and team members
Exemples of earlier research projects:
- An Evaluation of the Flemish Policy
on Educational Support (2009-2010)
How and to what extent have local communities executed the Flemish
policy on educational support?
- Fair Play: The influence of trainers
and fathers on the fair play of young soccer players
(aged 8-16) (2007-2008)
How can fathers and trainers be made aware of their crucial educational
role on and around the sport field? How can they stimulate the
fair play of their children and pupils?
How can sports clubs support fathers and trainers in thei educational
- Ideology in the family
What is the meaning of ideology and religion in contemporary families
(in partner relationships, in parent-child relationships and in
intergenerational solidarity)? Three research groups (two in the
family sciences programme and one in the training programme for
Senior Citizens’ Consultants) have concluded a (research)
project on these topics in June 2007.
The results of this research will be reflected on by philosophers
and social scientists and presented in a book and colloquium in
the fall of 2008.
- The (Non)Sense of a Family / Does
a Family (still) Make Sense? (2003-2005)
Considering the high divorce figures the 'end of the (nuclear)
family' is often proclaimed. On the other hand, more and more
new types of families (living together with a 2nd or a 3rd partner
- with or without children from previous relationships - same-sex
relationships...) claim the rights previously preserved for 'real'
families (traditional nuclear families). In this project we explored
the motivation of contemporary men and women to engage in a family
(of any kind) and to raise children.
Students in family sciences participated in a research project
on the quality of attachment styles of children in different types
In 2005 the project resulted in a colloquium and a book.
In August 2006 part of the results of the research on attachment
styles was presented by dr. Danny Verstraeten during the ‘Second
International Congress for Psychoanalytic Family Therapy’
- Fathers of all kind
The aim of this project was to explore different types of fatherhood
and to validate the role of fathers as educators in contemporary
families. During 2000-2001 several student groups conducted research
on this topic.
In 2002 the project resulted in a colloquium and a book.
Forum days on the occasion of the International Day of
Families (15 May)
Since 1997, the HIG responds to the call of the United Nations on
the occasion of the International Day of Families (15 May) to put
families and family policy on the agenda, by organizing the annual
'forum day'. On this day we invite policymakers, scientific researchers
and other specialists, representatives of NGOs and the welfare sector,
to discuss a relevant topic.
Since 2008 we add to the forum an annual analysis and evaluation
of the regional and local family policy in Flanders.
The contributions to these forums and a report of the debates are
published in our series 'Forum days'.
Previous forum days focused on our proposal to introduce the 'upbringing
11 May 2006: The Upbringing Pledge as a Framework for the
Now that the civil marriage family in its traditional form enjoys
less recognition, the pedagogical concerns that it included must
be transposed in one way or another into an institution that is
recognized by society. People who live together and contemplate
to have and to raise children can and must be expected to explicitly
and publicly commit themselves to parenthood. To this end, one could
introduce the ‘upbringing pledge’...
Thus proposed educational scientist and teacher at the HIG Hans
Van Crombrugge. His proposal was vividly discussed; the pro's and
cons were published.
11 May 2007: Conference 'Shared Pedagogical Responsibility?'
The discussion on the upbringing pledge continues, with questions
raised from a human rights' and children’s rights' point of
Organized by the Higher Institute for Family Sciences (Dr. Hans
Van Crombrugge) and the Universities of Antwerp (Prof. Dr. Wouter
Vandenhole) and Maastricht (Prof. Dr. Jan C.M. Willems).
The contributions to this conference were published in English:
Conference book presenting the upbringing pledge
Author(s): Hans Van Crombrugge (ed.), Wouter Vandenhole (ed.), Jan
Human rights tend to focus on the relationship between individual
and state: the individual is rights-holder, the state is duty-holder.
Children’s rights bring a third player much more in the picture,
namely parents. Although legally speaking they are not duty-holders
under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, they do have
a number of responsibilities under the CRC and other human rights
instruments. States may have obligations to turn these parental
responsibilities into national legal duties if that is needed to
improve the legal and social position of children.
Child rearing may still be considered by many to be within the private
domain, i.e. a matter of concern only within the relationship between
children and their parents, with the exception of instances of child
abuse or neglect.
In this volume, child-rearing responsibilities are examined in the
light of children’s rights and (other) human rights. All contributions
focus in particular on the proposal to introduce an upbringing (or
parenting) pledge. The upbringing pledge contains not only a statement
of lasting commitment towards the child, but also an explicit declaration
of commitment to respect and promote the rights of the child both
as a person and as a human being who is utterly dependent upon his
or her parents for his or her well-being and the development of
his or her personality. By means of the upbringing pledge as a child
rights based social institution, the responsibilities of society
and the state towards both parents and children are re-affirmed
Contributions presented during the conference Shared Pedagogical
Responsibility?, organized by the Higher Institute for Family
Sciences, 11th May 2007.
>> Published by Intersentia,
July 2008 - ISBN 978-90-5095-813-4 - Price: 29 Euro
Table of contents
LIVELINE - Live ICT services Verified by EGNOS to find
Lost Individuals in Emergency situations
The objective of the Liveline project was to develop a
commercial, secure location sharing service based on EGNOS/EDAS
for vulnerable people. A vulnerable person is somebody whose unexpected
absence creates high level of concern and anxiety at the side of
his or her close relatives and caretakers, as they may not be able
to find their way back home and easily become victims of accidents
Liveline focuses on vulnerable people in a family context, e.g.
children and elderly people. Secure location sharing of a vulnerable
person’s position saves critical search time, takes away needless
worries and reduces unnecessary police interventions. The final
goal of the project is a product that combines the security expected
from a location sharing system with the joy expected from a social
Our role in this project was to explore and define the social,
legal and moral conditions for a good pedagogical and social use
of these technical devices.
The Liveline project is funded by the 7th Framework Programme
of the European Commission addressing call topic GALILEO.2008.1.1.1
(a) Use of EGNOS Services for Mass Market-Innovative Applications
targeted to SMEs. The project started on 4th January 2010 with a
duration of 18 months until July 2011.
LLP-Grundtvig Multilateral Cooperation Project:
Family Competences Portfolio
Developing an instrument for the assessment of family related
skills and competences (2007-2009)
The aim of this project was to develop an instrument to assess
and validate the knowledge, skills and competences men and women
have obtained in family life. We believe these skills will be in
great demand considering the growing need for physical, as well
as social and educational care in the near future. With a shrinking
labour market supply and the pressure for longer careers, it becomes
very important that the qualities of currently underappreciated
skills and competences men and women have obtained in family life,
in their roles as educators, homemakers and care workers, can be
Our goal is to use the Family Competences Portfolio in several
- to coach the intake for education and training
- to grant exemption from exams and facilitate
shorter schooling careers;
- to allow the validation of these skills and
competences on the labour market.
The HIG coordinated the project and received the input of six organizations.
Some of them have a very broad experience in working on international
projects and/or in the assessment of prior learning (APL):
The concluding conference & expert seminar were organized in
Brussels, 23rd & 24th October 2009.
Grundtvig 2-project 'Second Chance Working Winners' (2005-2007)
From August 2005 to July 2007 the HIG took part in this learning
partnership. The aim was to disseminate best practices in teaching
and learning and in increasing employability of learners who are
(at least) forty years of age.
The HIG developed an application portfolio for the graduates of
our ‘Senior Citizens' Consultancy Training’ and a general
application portfolio for elder citizens (50+).
- Third Age Foundation (London) (coördinator)
- Komvux/Municipal Adult Education (Eskilstuna,
- Föderverein Akademie 2.Lebenshälfte
- IQ-Akademie GmbH (Nagold, Germany)
- Initiative 40 (Salzburg, Austria)
- Agora (Lorient, France)
The final meeting was organized in Brussels, 29-31 May 2007.
Grundtvig 1-project 'ANT: Attracting New Target Groups in
Adult Education' (2000-2001)
This project resulted in an international conference and a handbook
of best practices and recommendations on how to attract new target
groups. Based on this the HIG launched a campaign to attract more
men to its Family Sciences Training Programme.
Our partners were:
- Turun suomenkielinen työväenopisto
(Centre for adult education in Turku, Finland)
- Department of Andragogy, Philosophical Faculty
of Comenius University (Slovakia)
- Câmara Municipal de Lisboa (City Council
of Lisbon, Portugal)
Previous European projects:
1996-1998: the project 'Empowerment of older people', coordinated
by the Community Development Center in Coventry (England).
1993-1996: third European network 'Solidarity between generations
through training and education'.
Short Training Programs
The Higher Institute for Family Sciences offers graduates in social
work, graduates in Family Sciences and other interested persons
the opportunity to take further training in family relationships,
education and related subjects. Various short-term courses provide
insight into theories and methodologies that can be useful in providing
support to families and primary relationships.
These courses take the form of practical training aimed at increasing
professional effectiveness by exercising communication techniques
and counseling and assistance methods. The format often is interactive
sessions in small groups.
Some examples of current and/or recent courses:
- Islamic views on family relations and education
Ideas and ideals from an Islamic point of view on family relations
and education: what are they; how are they different from other
ideological views on family relations; how do these views intervene
with cultural traditions of different migrant populations?
With this 3-days course we want to contradict prejudices and stimulate
dialogue between families of different cultural backgrounds and
to increase know how and skills of professionals working with migrating
- Day 1 focuses on cultural identity in migration, Islam as identity
marker and general Islamic ‘rules’ concerning family
relations and education.
- Day 2 deals with partner relationships, gender, sexuality.
- Day 3 discusses education in migrating families: experiences,
specific problems and how to deal with them.
Most lectures are given by professionals, scientists and social
workers, with migrant background.
- Self-confrontation method
In this 4-days training participants are introduced to diagnostic
and process-promoting forms of counseling and assistance for front
line workers in the welfare sector and in spiritual health care.
This method aims, in a discussion between the help requester and
the help provider, to:
• clearly delineate the problem,
• obtain insight,
• create more movement in the experiential process.
The autonomy of the subject is respected at all times. Maintaining
and encouraging this autonomy is an important secondary objective
of this method.
Participants receive training in discussion management using the
non-directive, exploratory, Rogerian model.
- Contextual help with an accent on reciprocal influence
This four-days training program examines Nagy’s contextual
ideas in greater depth. The basic attitude of reciprocal influence
and other important concepts within contextual counseling and assistance
Concrete cases presented by participants and material from the
trainer are used to translate these theoretical concepts into the
concrete lives of clients and the families being worked with. Depending
on the participants’ specific work experiences the course
handles problem areas such as counseling in cases of incest and
maltreatment, accompanying reconstituted families, victim support,
support in handling unprocessed grief, and other areas.
- The rights of patients and residents in hospitals
and homes for social care
Two-days course for employees of hospitals and homes providing care
for elder persons, disabled persons and persons facing psychological
The course focuses on legal and financial rights, especially of
persons incapable to defend their own interests in these areas.
Both professionals and family members of patients and residents
are welcome to attend the course. Based on their specific questions
and problems the teacher will explain the legal framework concerning
- Divorce and new families: chances and risks in the
development of children
Families have become more and more diverse, often following a divorce.
In a first 2-days course we focus on the elements in this process
that give way to new chances in the development of children, but
we also focus on possible risks of a divorce and the new family
structures may bring for the well-being of children.
In a second 2-days course we help professionals recognize and counter
possibly dangerous situations children might face during or after
the divorce process.
Higher Institute for Family Sciences
Huart Hamoirlaan 136
BE 1040 Brussels
tel: ++32(02) 240 68 40
email@example.com - firstname.lastname@example.org