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Humanisation in relation to education

Chair group


You can also have a look on the Dutch website.


Prof Doret de Ruyter

Short introduction into the research field

The chair group Education consists of educational theorists, philosophers and empirical researchers, and conducts research on humanisation in relation to education. We examine education in various contexts, ranging from primary schools to adult education in the army. 


The chair group works on several themes for which it invites prospective PhD students. Please note that the questions below are illustrations; PhD research may also address other questions.

  1. The relationship between worldview, moral and citizenship education, and the way in which these contribute to the (future) flourishing of  pupils and students. 
    How can education encourage people to bring out the best in themselves and flourish? Which factors promote or hinder meaningful education; what is the role of worldview education in meaningful and valuable education? 
  2. The education of  pupils and students to become adults who wish to contribute to a humane society. 
    Which attitude, knowledge and skills do citizens need in a caring and learning democracy and how can these be cultivated in pupils and students?
  3. The flourishing of professionals and their professional wisdom.
    When do we say that teachers are wise and how can schools/institutes contribute to their flourishing? What role do teacher training programmes have in developing the wisdom of their students? 

The research of the chair group begins with pedagogical, educational and societal questions, which we aim to answer by means of pedagogical and philosophical reflection and through qualitative and quantitative empirical research. In collaboration with professionals, students and other parties involved (like parents) we seek well-founded ways to improve education.

Various examples of PhD research

Citizenship education in Dutch primary schools

In the last decades there has been, in many Western countries, a renewed interest in citizenship education and the idea that this education could contribute to the ‘creation’ of democratic citizens. Within policy and practice there seems to be a trend in thinking about this educational task in terms of socialising children into predefined views about what it means to be a good democratic citizen. However, there are other ideas about the purpose of education and what it means to be a democratic citizen. 

Jeroen van Waveren, teacher educator at Ipabo, explores the potential of the notion of subjectification for the pedagogical dimension of citizenship education and the notion of agonistic democracy for the political dimension of citizenship education for Dutch primary school teachers. The study is divided in a theoretical and empirical component. The theoretical study aimed to explore both concepts of subjectification and agonistic democracy. The aim of the empirical study was to gain more insight into Dutch primary school teachers’ beliefs about and experiences with democratic citizenship education in general, and furthermore the potential of both notions for their thinking and practice.

Humanistic worldview education in primary public schools

The aspiration to provide good education has led to a tendency to focus on measurement and defining clear and specific educational outcomes. But how does this work for a discipline such as Humanist Worldview Education that focusses on the development of the worldviews in pupils’ identity?

The educational practice of humanist worldview education is diverse. The curriculum is manifold and predominantly defined by the teacher’s personal input. What does this curriculum look like? How do pupils experience the practice of humanistic worldview education and what have they learned? And to what extent can practices and results be related?

To be able to answer these questions, Eveline Oostdijk, specialist in education at the Dutch Centrum voor Humanistische Vorming, has based the research outline on Goodlad’s curriculum model, further developed in the Netherlands by Van den Akker. She has been using both quantitative and qualitative methods for collecting and analyzing the data.  This research will contribute to the theoretical foundation, upon which the Humanist Centre of Ethical and Worldview Education builds its work. It will help to gain insight into the relationship between educational goals and educational practices. And it will clarify to which goals the HVO contributes the most.

Students' moral development

Lieke van Stekelenburg, lecturer Fontys University of Applied Sciences -applied psychology, was informed that Dutch University of Applied Sciences (UAS) aim to educate students towards responsible professionals with an ‘ethical compass’ that will guide them in work and life in a complex society. However, while metaphors such as the ‘ethical compass’ can be helpful, they can also lead to confusion or misunderstanding. Her research consists of an analysis of theories about the ethical compass and an analysis of the way in which virtue ethics and the ethics of the art of life can contribute to the development of meaningful compasses and their cultivation in students. Next to the philosophical studies she has conducted an explorative empirical research into students’ individual stories and experiences, an analysis of course documents and focus groups interviews with lecturers at UAS. In the concluding chapter of the dissertation (consisting of articles) the two lines will be brought together. With this, her research aims not only to contribute to academic knowledge, but also to provide a starting point for a productive and educative dialogue about students’ moral development. 


'Conducting a PhD is a challenging but rich journey. It offers the opportunity to deepen personal concern and meaningful questions emerging from your own professional practice.' 

Supervised by professor Doret de Ruyter.