Rees, Pieter van, MSc.

Citizenship in Science

Department of Pedagogy, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences,  University of Groningen,

Supervisor: Prof. Jeroen Dekker


I have a Bachelor’s degree in History (University of Groningen 2008), a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy (University of Groningen 2008) and a research Master’s degree in Philosophy (University of Groningen 2014). As a part of my master’s program I also studied at the University of Paris-IV Sorbonne, the École Normale Supérieure Paris and Paris-8 Vincennes.
MA thesis: Art and truth. Nietzsche’s struggle with romanticism


The research examines the development of scientific knowledge on citizenship education in various fields in the 20th century. The main idea is that while citizenship education is a mandatory part of the curriculum in many schools systems (including the Dutch), numerous questions remain about the nature of ‘citizenship’ itself and effective means of teaching citizenship. Furthermore, the debate around citizenship education tends to be filled with many ‘political’ or ‘ideological’ notions, as every specific definition of citizenship incorporates a political view. This makes a ‘neutral’ scientific view on citizenship education a difficult matter. Citizenship can be seen as an ‘essentially contested concept’. On the other hand, there is an immense quantity of scientific publications on the nature and effectiveness of citizenship education, from a very wide spectrum of fields (including history, economics, genetics, social psychology, political sciences, sociology, law and philosophy).
This research will place the current debate around citizenship and citizenship education in a wider historical context of developing scientific, educational and political ideas, mapping out the ‘contest’ around this concept in the last hundred years. As such it will provide an overview of scientific theories about citizenship education, as well as a critical examination of these theories, relating them to the broader cultural, historical and political contexts in which they were developed and translated into educational practices. More specifically, this research will focus on the interaction between scientific findings, cultural contexts and educational policies in the United States and the Netherlands in the 20th century.