Prof. Sanne Taekema

If you want to contribute to urgent questions in society, particularly from a legal perspective, this master trains you really well.

Prof. Sanne Taekema

Professor of Jurisprudence

“I am a curious person, I always want to gain more knowledge. When I graduated from high school I just had too many interests. So I went to America to do a liberal arts programme. You just pick and choose the courses you liked. I found out that I generally was not satisfied with superficial questions, but always asked myself: Why is it like it is and why do we think this way? So I chose to study Philosophy.”

One of the more pure academics
“At Amsterdam University I quickly realised that it would be wise to combine Philosophy with some other field of science. I was interested in ethics and politics, the values of society and things like that. Since my father was a lawyer, I knew a little bit about the law. I was interested in questions like ‘How can we organise society in a fair way?’ and ‘What ís justice in fact?’. These questions all come back in law. So in the second year, I created my own double degree programme and started to study Law simultaneously. I wrote my final thesis for Philosophy about property law.”

“After my studies, I was lucky to be offered a PhD position at Tilburg University. I wanted to write a dissertation on the neutrality of the state but was directed in another way. The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research was funding a project on Philip Selznick and the role of ideals in law. That sounded interesting too. For this PhD project, I got the opportunity to spend a semester in Berkeley and interview the renowned author Philip Selznick, whose works I was studying. This was a true highlight for me. So you have to have some talent and work hard, but you need a bit of luck as well. I guess I am one of the more pure academics, so I chose to stay in the academic world.”

Look behind the letter of the law
“What actually drives this master, is the idea that if you really want to understand the law, you need more than one perspective. As a student, you develop a broad view of the law by combining theoretical, sociological and methodological perspectives. The education is really close to the research that our scientists do in the research programme Rethinking the Rule of Law.”

“In the first semester, you take the required courses including a skills seminar. After Christmas, you specialise. There are a Legal Theory and Philosophy Track, a Socio-Legal Track and an Individual Track. But whatever your choice may be, this master is basically meant for those who want to look behind the letter of the law. If you want to contribute to urgent questions in society, particularly from a legal perspective, this master trains you really well. Many of our former students have stayed in the academic world, but career opportunities are more ‘practical’ than you might have thought. Indeed, law firms are also interested in sharp thinkers, people with a much broader perspective. And one of my former students is a member of the Dutch Parliament at this moment.”

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