NWO Programme Heritage Education

Research Projects and Synthesis

Project 1: Heritage educators and history teachers: concepts and ideas
Stephan Klein

Project update

The project has resulted in the following publications so far:

  • Stephan Klein, Maria Grever en Carla van Boxtel, ‘”Zie, denk, voel, vraag, spreek, hoor en verwonder.” Afstand en nabijheid in geschiedenisonderwijs en erfgoededucatie in Nederland’, Tijdschrift voor geschiedenis 124 (2011) nr.3, 381-395.
  • Stephan Klein, 'Heritage and the history classroom. The views of history teachers and heritage educators in the Netherlands' in: Carla van Boxtel, Stephan Klein and Ellen Snoep (eds.), Heritage education: challenges in dealing with the past (Amsterdam, Erfgoed Nederland 2011) 14-21.
  • Stephan Klein, 'De leerling als reiziger in tijd en ruimte. Over effecten van afstand en nabijheid tot het verleden', Kleio (juni 2012).

Two articles are in preparation. In April/May 2010, I interviewed four teachers and two heritage educators twice on the topic “Transatlantic slave trade and slavery”. These data have been analysed and a concept version of the article has been written. Another article will deal with heritage of the Holocaust in a local context. Both studies have been presented at international meetings:

  • Stephan Klein, 'Teaching Atlantic slavery: the knowledge base of Dutch history teachers and heritage educators', paper presented at the Seminar Theorizing and exploring opportunities of heritage education (Erfgoed Nederland / EUR), Amsterdam, November 17th , 2011.
  • Stephan Klein, 'Imagining the Holocaust in your own environment. A heritage educator and history teacher perspective'. Paper presented at the International Conference Geschichtsdidaktik Empirisch 12, Deutschschweizerische Gesellschaft für Geschichtsdidaktik, Pädagogische Hochschule Nordwestschweitz, Basel, February 17th, 2012.

Project information

This project focuses on the concepts and ideas of heritage education and history teaching. It has a theoretical and an empirical component. The first aims at answering the question to what extent the theoretical assumptions of heritage education are different from those of history teaching. The second aims at understanding how history teachers and designers of heritage education programs actually think about this relationship when considering goals for learning about the past by students of various backgrounds.

Sources are: Interviews with open questions and task-based instruments with several textual and (audio-) visual tools.

Original NWO Application Project 1
Post-doc, Heritage educators and history teachers: concepts and ideas

Project 2: Bridges to the Past: Historical Distance and Multiperspectivity in English and Dutch Heritage Educational Resources
Pieter de Bruijn

This project has been completed. Pieter de Bruijn successfully defended his PhD Thesis at Erasmus University Rotterdam on October 16th, 2014.

The research project encompassed an analysis of the educational materials, activities and museum presentations of fifteen heritage institutes in England and the Netherlands that deal with the history of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery, the Second World and the Holocaust. It examined what strategies are used by museums, archives and memorial centres to bring the past closer and stimulate various forms of engagement. Furthermore, it studied how these techniques relate to the inclusion and exclusion of multiple points of view. An important outcome of this research is an analytical framework that provides insight into the effect of different narrative structures on the experience of the nearness or distance of the past and the various ways in which the past can be connected to the present. This study argues that elements of temporal proximity and engagement should be combined with detached reflection in order for heritage education to offer more than a coloured experience of the past and actually enrich history learning.

Contact:  Send an email
Linkedin:  http://www.linkedin.com/in/pacdebruijn

Supervisors: Prof. M.C.R. Grever and Prof. C.A.M. van Boxtel

Original NWO Application Project 2
PhD, Heritage and history teaching: Dutch and English curriculum practices


P.A.C. de Bruijn, Bridges to the Past: Historical Distance and Multiperspectivity in English and Dutch Heritage Educational Resources (Unpublished PhD Thesis, Erasmus University Rotterdam, 2014).

P.A.C. de Bruijn, 'The Holocaust and Historical Distance. An Analysis of Heritage Educational Resources', in: Jan Hodel, Monika Waldis and Beatrice Ziegler (eds.), Forschungswerkstatt Geschichtsdidaktik 12(Bern, hep-Verlag, 2013) 204-213.

M. Grever, P. de Bruijn, C. van Boxtel, 'Negotiating Historical Distance. Or, How to Deal With the Past As a Foreign Country in Heritage Education'Paedagogica Historica 48;6 (2012) 873-887.

P.A.C. de Bruijn, 'Engaging Heritage. Plurality in Educational Resources’, in: C. van Boxtel, S. Klein, E. Snoep (eds.), Heritage Education. Challenges in Dealing With the Past (Amsterdam, Erfgoed Nederland, 2011) 22-25.

C. van Boxtel, P. de Bruijn, M. Grever, S. Klein, G. Savenije, 'Dicht bij het verleden. Wat kunnen erfgoedlessen bijdragen aan het leren van geschiedenis?', Kleio 51;7 (2010) 18-23.

Project 3: Sensitive history under negotiation: Pupils' historical imagination and attribution of significance while engaged in heritage projects
Geerte Savenije

This project has been completed. The study resulted in the publications listed below. Savenije successfully defended her thesis on Thursday October 9th, 2014 at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.


Savenije, G.M., Van Boxtel, C. & Grever, M. (2014). Learning about sensitive history: 'Heritage' of slavery as a resourceTheory and Research in Social Education42(4) 516-547.

Savenije, G.M. (2014) Sensitive History under Negotiation: Pupils' Historical Imagination and Attribution of Significance while Engaged in Heritage Projects, Unpublished PhD Dissertation, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands. ISBN/EAN: 978-94-6108-722-5. 
Awarded ‘Best PhD thesis of the year 2014 - Graduate School Award for PhD Excellence’ by the Erasmus Graduate School of Social Sciences and the Humanities.

Savenije, G.M., Van Boxtel, C. & Grever, M. (2014). Sensitive ‘heritage’ of slavery in a multicultural classroom: Pupils’ ideas regarding significanceBritish Journal of Educational Studies62(2), 127-148.

Savenije, G.M. (2011). Discussion in chains: Pupils’ ideas about slavery heritage, in C. van Boxtel, S. Klein en E. Snoep (Eds.), Heritage education: challenges in dealing with the past (Amsterdam, Erfgoed Nederland) pp. 32-39.

Van Boxtel, C., De Bruijn, P., Grever, M., Klein, S. & Savenije, G.M. (2010). Dicht bij het verleden. Wat kunnen erfgoedlessen bijdragen aan het leren van geschiedenis?, Kleio 51 (7), 18-23. ISSN: 0165-6449. 

If you are interested to learn more about this project please contact Geerte Savenije.

Project information

Although little is known about the ways in which pupils learn history during museum visits, people have many expectations of it. This mixed methods multiple case study examined pupils’ learning about sensitive history, specifically the history of slavery and the Second World War, while engaged in heritage projects including a museum visit. The study focused on the ways in which pupils imagine a particular history and attribute significance to this history. The data were collected using questionnaires, individual interviews and observations of pupil group work and museum educators. 

The study revealed that the heritage projects enriched the pupils’ images of the past and made them more concrete. Also, many pupils were stimulated to empathise with the people from the past. However, they had little attention for the historical context of these people and they had difficulty to take other perspectives than their own present-day perspective. The heritage projects provided insight in the different ways in which significance is attributed to the past in current Dutch society. The projects enabled the pupils to explore their own ideas regarding significance and how these were related to their identity. However, the possibility to find the heritage unimportant remained undiscussed, although many pupils found this an interesting perspective and did not necessarily attached great importance to the preservation of the heritage. 

This empirical study contributes to theories regarding these aspects of history learning and creates an empirical basis for a discussion about the constraints and benefits of learning history in heritage projects. The insights of this study can inform pedagogies of history teachers and museum educators.

Supervisors: prof. dr. Carla van Boxtel and prof. dr. Maria Grever

Original NWO Application Project 3
PhD, Heritage and entrance narratives: constructing shared historical knowledge

Synthesis of theory and empirical research
Verlangen naar tastbaar verleden: erfgoed, onderwijs en historisch besef
Maria Grever and Carla van Boxtel

Compare @count study programme

  • @title

    • Duration: @duration
Compare study programmes