This article is the first paper in a series that describes the reform of the pharmacy curriculum at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). In this paper, we show the reasons (background and history) for the implementation of a new curriculum. Our goal is to educate pharmacists who are able to face the challenges of the twenty-first century. Due to the new role of the pharmacist in this contemporary society, pharmacy students must acquire new and other competences (communication skills, teamwork). These competences can only be learned using new educational methods. This paper describes innovations that were implemented in the educational system and the steps taken to create a framework for these innovations. The new curriculum conforms to the Bologna Declaration.