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Introduction

The chair group Research Methodology  and Theory of Sciences studies the foundations and methods of humanistic studies as a denominational-normative, multi-disciplinary and practice-oriented science.

The chair group has defined three important goals for the coming years.

Developing humanistic studies

The researchers seek the further emancipation of humanistic studies with a view to international acknowledgement as an independent academic field. By studying relevant conceptions of science, developing suitable research designs and the associated methods and tools, the chair contributes to the national and international prominence of humanistic studies.

It is important that researchers realise that the research performed at the University of Humanistic Studies is geared to moral goals. While this does not preclude studying the various topics and objects with a certain objective reserve, it does mean that researchers in the field of humanistic studies hold critical ideas and beliefs with regard to what makes a humane society. This normative approach does not distort reality, but instead contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of reality; comparable to how the robust views held by feminists on male-female relationships help determine the content of gender studies.

Developing research methodologies

Research methodologies and designs must do justice to the complex reality we inhabit. To do so, the University of Humanistic Studies has adopted a strong emphasis on a broad range of qualitative research methodologies and a multidisciplinary approach to (combinations of) social scientific, historical and philosophical research. To this end, the chair group promotes the mutual collaboration of philosophical and social scientific research by designing internal ‘empirical cycles’ in which conceptual thinkers work alongside social scientists, and so feed each other’s work.

The complex reality we inhabit and study includes the research fields of ‘participative society’, in which active citizenship plays an important role, research into care and care ethics and ageing well, into the changes affecting the relationship between the private and public sectors, and the consequences of globalisation and pluralism. The chair group develops and supports a scientific attitude that does not assume paradigmatic intolerance, but a scientific approach with an active commitment to a dialogical interaction with diversity in philosophical and methodological paradigms.

Quality control

The third goal of the chair group is to help enhance the methodological quality of research at the University of Humanistic Studies. Precisely because the research performed here is value-driven, it is essential that it is of impeccable methodological quality. The message is much more persuasive when it rests on solid empirical grounds. Our researchers therefore actively collaborate with the academic staff and researchers of other chair groups (including PhD researchers and students) to help develop an increasingly elaborate ‘scientific toolkit’.