SONYA was born in 2021 from the confluence of 3 researchers-teachers and their teams; Maria Mancilla Garcia joined ULB in 2021 to replace Edwin Zaccai who left for emeritus, Wouter Achten joined SONYA from a sister research unit - GESTe and Tom Bauler who moved from the Center for the Study of Sustainable Development - CEDD to our new working environment. SONYA is thus also an offshoot of the CEDD, which was developing human and social science perspectives on sustainability and environmental issues within the Institut de Gestion de l'Environnement et d'Aménagement du Territoire - IGEAT. In 2008, IGEAT became part of the Department of Geosciences, Environment and Society - DGES and we are now part of the Faculty of Sciences of the ULB, while developing our particularity of socio-environmental research within a faculty of natural sciences.

We participate in several socio-scientific dynamics within the University, and beyond. Wouter Achten and Tom Bauler are environmental advisors to the Vice-Rector for Sustainable Development - Charline Urbain, and participate in the orientation of the ULB's environmental policy, whether it be for the pedagogical and educational aspects, or for certain aspects of the institution's management. SONYA has also co-constructed the emergence of the Interfaculty Institute for Socio-Environmental Transition within the ULB, which will lead an intra-ULB network of research and joint activities on the issues of environmental justice. SONYA is also actively participating in the establishment of the Research Center "Urban Studies Sustainability Science and Socio-Environmental Transitions" shared by ULB and VUB and which should eventually be located on the Usquare campus. In addition, SONYA members - most recently Tom Bauler, then Romain Weikmans - have participated in the animation of the Federal Council for Sustainable Development, and Wouter Achten participates in the Environment Council of the Brussels Region.

We also co-animate several academic and societal research dynamics beyond Brussels. Several SONYA members are active in the European Society for Ecological Economics.
Updated on September 19, 2022