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RMA History Blog

Free to Choose: Hans Rodenburg

Free to Choose 

By Hans Rodenburg


For me, the main motivation for applying to the Research Master Modern History was the freedom of choice that would be provided by the program. The idea of freely picking my own courses, and maybe even looking around at other faculties, really appealed to me. Now, halfway through the first year, I’ve already followed a sociology course about integration and cultural diversity, a crash course SPSS for historians, and I’m going to start a research tutorial on the history of welfare beneficiaries. At this moment, I’m happy to say that all of my choices worked out really well.

I must confess however, that the most informative experience I have gained so far, has been the result of one of the few mandatory parts of the program. For the research seminar we all had to join the research project of a researcher from Utrecht University. As a result of this choice, I’m currently doing research in the Greenpeace International archives, where I’m studying the Europeanization of environmental NGOs.

While this topic would have never occurred to me if I had been allowed to pick my own subject, this research has proved to be incredibly interesting. Through the challenges that I and my fellow students have encountered, I’ve actually gained more knowledge than from any of the courses I picked out myself. Although I hate to admit it, mandatory courses can prove to be very worthwhile.