RHI-11306 Social Transitions in Historical Perspective


Credits 6.00

Teaching methodContact hours
Group work3
Independent study
Course coordinator(s)CA Boter MA
Lecturer(s)dr. AJAM Schuurman
dr. EJV van Nederveen Meerkerk
CA Boter MA
dr. NM Teeuwen
Examiner(s)dr. EJV van Nederveen Meerkerk
dr. AJAM Schuurman

Language of instruction:



This course will make students aware that society is continuously changing and that knowledge of the past helps us in order to make educated and informed decisions how to adapt society and ourselves to these changing circumstances. Public Health and Applied Communication are directly connected with, depending on and influencing the organization and development of society as such. This course will train students to interpret contemporary problems in a historical perspective. We start from long term social transitions: the economic transition (how society changed from an agrarian into a (post)-industrial society), the demographic transition (how the mortality and fertility rates dropped strongly and were accompanied by changing population and family structures); the political transition (from oligarchy to the nation-state and upcoming democracy and citizenship), the social transition (from an ascription society to an achievement society, the new problem of social inequality - including gender, class and ethnic inequality -, and the processes of individualization), the cultural transition (the role of the Enlightenment and of Romanticism, the process of secularisation and the changing role of church and religion), and the spatial transition (from local to global and back). Students will read a textbook on the history of the last two hundred and fifty years. In working groups these texts will be discussed in order to establish their relevance for our times. Finally, students will write papers on historical topics related to their major in which they can apply what they have learned and through which they get knowledge and understanding of the historical dimensions of their major.

Learning outcomes:

After successful completion of this course students are expected to be able to:
- reproduce, describe and compare the main transitions in the modern period and their mechanisms of change;
- apply a historical perspective on contemporary societal developments;
- value the relevance of historical knowledge and approach with regard to the field of their major;
- find, analyse and apply (historical) literature in an essay;
- give a structured presentation based on a larger paper.


- lectures;
- literature study;
- tutorials;
- essay writing.
These are all compulsory.


- assignments and participation in tutorials (10%);
- written paper (40%);
- written exam with open questions (50%).
Both the written exam and the paper need a minimum mark of 5.5 to pass.


Altena, B.; Lente, D. van. (2011). Vrijheid en rede: geschiedenis van Westerse samenlevingen 1750-1989. Hilversum, NL. ISBN 9789087042288. 400p.

Compulsory for: BCLCommunication and Life SciencesBSc3WD
BGMHealth and SocietyBSc3WD