The teaching profession contributes probably more to the future of our society than any other profession. For me, teaching is sharing ideas and arguments – also my own ones – and practicing academic tools. In my teaching I try to apply basically the same principles as in my research. This is a problem driven approach, starting with a question to be answered (or aimed to be answered), followed by arguments, that is, theories which have the potential to be an answer to the question posed, and last but not least the testing of these theories. My lectures usually start with a question, which is subsequently discussed. Popular examples among students are ‘does internet make us lonely?’ – ‘ ‘better networks – better job?’ or ‘better a good neighbor than a distant friend?’
ISS – Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
ISS – Interdisciplinary Social Sciences – is a Bachelor’s programme (in Dutch: ASW, Algemene Sociale Wetenschappen) at the University of Amsterdam. Recently and together with a team, I designed a new curriculum for this programme and had the chance to read and learn a lot about the value of interdisciplinarity.
Social problems cannot be linked one-by-one with the social-science disciplines at our universities. As Popper already in 1963 put forward: “We are not students of some subject matter, but students of problems. And problems may cut right across the borders of any subject matter or discipline.”
In the ASW-Bachelor’s programme, students learn the differences and similarities between a number of disciplines in the Social Sciences. Importantly, they learn to combine insights and become educated as interdisciplinary researchers and professionals: people who can easily switch perspectives, build bridges, who have general as well as in–depth knowledge of social and scientific problems – and who, last but not least, are eager to contribute to the solutions of these problems.
VSO – Visies op sociale ongelijkheid
VSO – Visies op sociale ongelijkheid – Perspectives on social inequality. This is a course I teach in the Bachelor’s programme of ISS. In this course, students learn about the answers of different social thinkers to the problem of inequality. Theories from economy, sociology, political sciences and psychology are discussed and modern empirical research is presented. Is there a theory that holds best? Or contribute all explanations equally to the understanding of the problem of social inequality? Last but not least, when is inequality actually also inequity and would be a solution to this problem?
Mensenmaatschappij – Society of people
MENSENMAATSCHAPPIJ – Society of people. This is an introduction course to sociology in the Bachelor’s programme of ISS. Is there something specific in sociological thinking? What are the differences between social problems and sociological problems? Hoe do sociologists build an explanation of social reality? These questions are starting questions in this course. Next, students learn about the major research problems in sociology, e.g. social cohesion, inequality and rationalization. In addition, the course gives an some basics to modern social research and research strategies.
PHD PROJECTS – It is a pleasure to guide young scholars in pursuing their own research. I supervise master-theses and PhD-projects. The common denominator of these projects is that they are all related to empirical sociology and preferably to the study of social networks and social capital.