Colloquium: New Perspectives on Popular Educational and Reformist Social Initiatives and Movements (February 10, 2017)

The long nineteenth century saw the organization and development of a series of initiatives that tried to improve and elevate the material and mental state of the working classes throughout many countries in Western Europe, particularly in the Low Countries. Social reformers and an array of social-cultural initiatives tried to find answers to the ‘social question(s)’ through ‘Volksbildung’/’Volksontwikkeling’. One hereby thinks of popular education institutions with popular libraries and lectures, co-operative and mutual societies, initiatives to improve the school and housing system and to promote saving among the working classes and so on. These associations and organisations could differ in ideology and objectives. In the past decades, historians have begun to devote serious attention to these movements and initiatives on both a national and transnational scale.

This interdisciplinary colloquium brings together both young and established scholars working on the history of education, social and moral reform in the Low Countries from a European perspective.

The colloquium takes place on 10 February 2017 in the Liberaal Archief in Gent, Kramersplein 23, 9000 Gent. All presentations will be given in English.The colloquium is organized by the Liberaal Archief, in collaboration with the Universiteit Gent and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. If you wish to attend, please register via mail:


-09.30-09.40: Introduction/welcome by Dr. Patrick van Schie (Teldersstichting, Den Haag)

The History of Educational and Social Reform in Belgium and the Netherlands from a European Perspective - chair: Christoph De Spiegeleer (Liberaal Archief)

  • 09.45-10.15: Pr. Dr. Christianne Smit (Universiteit Utrecht), “To sup sorrow with the poor. Modern social reform around 1900: personal engagement within an international network”
  • 10.30-10.50: Dr. Christina Reimann (Centre Marc Bloch/Göteborgs Universitet), “Putting the province on the road of progress? The Belgian Ligue de l’enseignement’s failure to integrate the countryside”
  • 11.00-11.20: Dr. Stijn van den Perre (Universiteit Gent), “Catholic fundraising for educating the poor during the 1850s”
  • 11.30 -11.50: Dr. Birgitte Martens (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), “Popular politics and citizenship education in three nineteenth-century satirical periodicals (case Brussels, 1830-1860)”
  • 12.00-12.45: Lunch

Social Pedagogical Analyses of the Social Question in Belgium - chair: Walter Ysebaert (VUB)

  • 12.50-13.10: Evelyne Deceur, Pr. Dr. Angelo van Gorp & Pr. Dr. Maria Bouverne de Bie (Universiteit Gent), “The social question as an urban question. A social-pedagogical analysis of participatory initiatives in Flandres/Belgium during the 19th century”
  • 13.20-13.40: Dr. Lieselot De Wilde, Pr. Dr. Bruno Vanobbergen & Pr. Dr. Michel Vandenbroeck (Universiteit Gent), “The child, the body and the bath: a cure for the future? Child care initiatives in 19th-century Belgium”

Transnational Networks and Transfers - chair: Walter Ysebaert (VUB)

  • 14.00-14.20: Dr. Christophe Verbruggen (Universiteit Gent) & Thomas D’haeninck (Universiteit Gent/Universiteit Maastricht), “Educational internationalism in the Low Countries, 1850-1914”
  • 14.30-14.50: Thomas D’haeninck, “Auguste Wagener (1829-1896) and international reform congresses”
  • 15.00-15.20: Amandine Thiry (Université Catholique de Louvain), “Towards a model prison staff: the discovery of the guardian? The Belgian casus in transnational perspective (1847-1914)”
  • 15.30-16.15: Closing Panel Session lead by Dr. Patrick van Schie