Prof. Cok Bakker has a background in Theology and Religious Studies (since 1988) and in Educational Studies (since 1991). He holds the position of Professor of World View Education at the Faculty of Humanities of Utrecht University. His research focuses on the relationship between education and religion in the broadest sense. This ranges from the manifestations of this relationship at the macro-level of education policy and pillarization in education, through the meso-level of civil society and institutions (‘the identity of the school’ and ‘the subject of religion / belief systems’), down to the micro-level of the professional and philosophical biography of individual teachers.
In academic education, he is responsible for the Master’s courses entitled ‘Belief systems, organization and policy’ and ‘Religious education and formation’. The goals of the former course include exploring how social trends and changing notions of tradition are shaping organizations (in terms of their internal organization, decision-making and business ethics). The latter course features an analysis of the various educational and training processes used in the context of belief systems.
In the period from 2012 to 2016, his appointment at the university includes spending two days a week on secondment to HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht as professor at the Centre for Education Research. His role there is to supervisethe research group that focuses on the theme of ‘Normative Professionalization’.
As part of a joint project by Utrecht University and HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, a research group of about 15 PhD students and researchers has been formed, who in practice work together as a group under the name of ‘The Good Learning Project’. The supervision of doctoral research has thus become a key task. From the first semester towards the second semester a book has been released: Complexity in Education: From Horror to Passion (Bakker & Montessori 2016).
The key question is what we actually mean by ‘good education’, and who is actually able to decide this. This question becomes all the more relevant when we consider the fact that the quality of education can only partly be ‘regulated' by means of protocols, competency lists and regularly evaluating academic performance in a standardized way. In addition to the many forms of technical-instrumental professionalism, this research group focuses on the subjective and moral dimension of the professionalism on the part of the teacher (and the trainee teacher). The teacher’s own biography, individual beliefs and preferences, a vision of humanity and the world, and a vision of development (etc.) have also proven to be important, ‘coincidental’ factors that are also decisive in shaping teachers and the teaching profession.
Cok Bakker is also editor of the international series ‘Religious Diversity and Education in Europe’ (Münster / New York: Waxmann). Finally, in addition to all the above activities, he works - for one day a week - as an advisor, supervisor or teacher on identity projects in various schools and educational institutions, managing and working in educational support organizations. This work generally relates to matters in the field of religious and philosophical diversity.