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3512 HD Utrecht, the Netherlands

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University of Humanistic Studies Studying Summer school on Pluralism & Development

Summer School on Pluralism & Development

The Summer School on Pluralism & Development of 2016 involved a 4 week full time program of lectures, excursions, seminars, literature study, discussion, guided individual - and small group work and assignments. Participants were selected from four or five participants from our Pluralism Partners in India, Indonesia, Uganda, South Africa and the Netherlands. (See below for a list of our partners.) Selected participants were required to prepare a pre-summer school assignment.

The summer school program focused on

  • Critical analysis of (1) key concepts in development theories and their normative and empowering impact, (2) human rights, its basic values and justifications and a reflection on the claims of the universality of human rights versus human rights as a western invention and (3) key issues in social theory and cultural studies with regard to civil society building and democratic empowerment
  • Exploration of concrete civil society practices from perspectives of human and sustainable development
  • Theories and practices of pluralism in diverse societies
  • Reflection on methods and strategies which are used by civil society based organisations in the promotion of pluralism, such as educational practices, dialogue, personal and social empowerment and civil society based community action programs
  • Philosophical and ethical discussions on the basic values of cosmopolitan ethics, e.g. theories of global civil society building and democratic participation, sustainable development and global social justice.
The course was completed with a group presentation and paper as well as a design for a workshop that participants conducted after they returned home. Participants received a University of Humanistic Studies Certificate in Development and Pluralism.


The main aims of the Pluralism Knowledge Program

  • comprehend and map existing studies and practices and generate new knowledge on core contemporary issues pertaining pluralism and fundamentalisms
  • intensify links between development practitioners and academic researchers in ways that enrich both their knowledge bases with new perspectives, insights and skills
  • support and empower civil society organisations to effectively design and advance new strategies, policies and practices of pluralism
  • help create international networks of civil society initiatives around issues of pluralism translate acquired knowledge into strategies for promoting pluralism in practice.

    Find more information on the Pluralism program on the website of Kosmopolis.


    The summerschool was organised by the Kosmopolis Platform of the University of Humanistic Studies, in cooperation with HIVOS (Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries), Azim Premji University, (India), PUSAD-Paramadina and The Centre for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies of Gadjah Mada University (Indonesia) and the Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice of the University of the Free State (South Africa).

    Core Staff

    Dr. Caroline Suransky (Director of Kosmopolis Platform, University of Humanistic Studies, the Netherlands)

    Prof. Dr. Henk Manschot (Senior Fellow of Kosmopolis, University of Humanistic Studies, the Netherlands)

    Prof. Dr. Sitharam Kakarala (Senior Fellow of Kosmopolis, Centre for the Study of Culture & Society, India)

    Dr. Zainal Abidin Bagir (Executive Director, Center for Religious and Cross-Cultural Studies, Graduate School, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia)

    Mr. J.C. van der Merwe (Staff Member International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, University of the Free State, South Africa)

Frank Nieuwenhuizen

I became someone else through the contact with the other participants. I am having other thoughts now than a month ago. The scary thing is one can’t really control or overlook such a situation... After a while, I probably see the worth and the beauty, but for now it is just shaky and confronting.
I developed into a more plural being.



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