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B2-HUM3: Promises and Pitfalls of Citizenship (19-20)

Dutch Title 

Beloften en bedreigingen van burgerschap




Bachelor 2


period I


7.5 credits


Menno Hurenkamp


Menno Hurenkamp, Evelien Tonkens

Learning goals

After completion of participation in B2-HUM3 Citizenship in a turbulent society, according to the requirements, the student is able to:

1. explain why and how citizenship is a humanistic concept

2. distinguish between different causal mechanisms thought to lead to “good citizenship” via the course literature

3. understand the differences between “political”, “cultural” and “social” citizenship in politics and policies

4. translate citizenship concepts in a professional environment, explain among for instance teachers, social workers or councilors what the promises and pitfalls are when one uses citizenship as a goal – via spoken or written word


content description

When you argue with your neighbor about his loud music; or when you express your disappointment in a conversation with friends because your favorite politician broke all her promises; or when you refuse to shop in a supermarket where they sell factory-farmed chickens; or if you organize a committee to oppose the board of the university; or if you claim the right to sing the national anthem before class starts – in all these instances, you are acting as a citizen. Of course, you also act as a citizen when you vote, pay taxes or volunteer for the elderly. But these are the obvious acts and in fact citizenship is much more ingrained in our daily lives than we tend to realize; it is in fact the structure we live by. At least that is what this course is about: citizenship at the heart of the humanistic project. To do what humanists aspire to and to articulate how relatively free individuals shape their lives in relation to other individuals as well as to communities, is unimaginable without a serious conception of citizenship. 

‘Theory and practice of citizenship’ is about the unavoidable, inspiring and disciplining language of political, cultural and social belonging; a language about being represented in parliament, about public protest, about holidays or religious practices, about protection against losing your job or falling ill. This language does not compete with political ideologies or other modernist inventions. It is old, as old as any religion, but only a bit more agile and lively.  

Teaching methods

The Tuesday lectures provide, where possible supported by audiovisual materials, an introduction to the themes and reading material. In the Friday workshops these themes and reading material is discussed more in-depth. Students have an active role in these workshops: student will be presenting on issues related to the central themes, discuss the literature, and provide each other with feedback on their writing in progress.

Assessment methods

Written exam + presentation


Required reading:

All literature can be found on ELO or the reading material shelf