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About Humanistic Studies

Humanistic studies is a multidisciplinary human science for which humanist values are a source of inspiration. It combines insights gained from philosophy, psychology, sociology, religious and cultural sciences, theory of science and methodology.

Humanistic Studies explores how people respond to existential issues. What makes life worth living? What is the meaning of happiness and prosperity? Which moral and ethical choices are open to us? How do we cope with suffering and sorrow?

Humanistic Studies furthermore explores important contemporary social, political and ethical issues. What does a pluralist society entail? How can we define quality of care and education? How can we pursue sustainable development? How can human rights be guaranteed?


Contemporary humanism continues to build on a rich tradition of ideas and values. Characteristics of a humanist view of life are a reliance on one’s own powers of observation and comprehension, an orientation on dialogue and an aversion to dogmatism. The concepts of human dignity, justice and freedom play a pivotal role. Attaching great value to self-development, education, aesthetics and culture is also typical of a humanist attitude towards life. It is especially since the Enlightenment that humanism is explicitly viewed as a philosophy of life in which the human perspective is a defining factor in understanding and giving meaning to life and the world.

Humanisation and meanings of life

The academic staff at the University consists of scholars in Humanistic Studies, in social, religious and cultural sciences, and philosophers and historians. Our curriculum is structured around two principal themes: humanisation and meanings of life. Our courses on the theme of meanings of life revolve around the individual person, with topics such as identity, ethics and the philosophy of life. Humanisation focuses on the social context, in particular on how organisations function and on social relationships. These themes are closely intertwined, both in the area of research and in our education programmes.

Humanism and Humanistic Studies

Humanism and Humanistic Studies are two different things. Humanistic Studies is an academic study that further elaborates the meaning and significance of humanism and worldviews within contemporary society. The study is based on the premise that the humanist philosophy and values form an independent body alongside – and sometimes opposed to – other worldviews, but that they are also found as part of other religious and non-religious worldviews. The University studies humanism in this broad, ‘inclusive’ sense.