The Netherlands has a long humanist tradition, going back to Erasmus and
Coornhert. In 1989, this tradition resulted in the establishment of the University
for Humanist Studies. Within the segmented Dutch landscape, the establishment
of a university based on humanist principles—in addition to Catholic and
Protestant universities—was considered a gesture of equal justice. The teaching
and research program of the university, however, does not in the first place focus
on humanism as one segment of society. Instead it intends to develop and maintain
an open worldview: it aims at humanization and concentrates on themes
such as the meaning of life, existential questions and the humanization of society.
Through the establishment of the university, humanistics, a new human science
defined as humanities that are oriented towards everyday practices with specific
attention to processes of giving meaning to life and “humanizing”, has developed
into a multi-discipline which, to our knowledge, is unique in the world.
This volume presents an overview of the results of research activities at this institute,
and aims to stimulate international academic debate on empowering humanity.