Dr Doortje Kal gained her doctorate on Quarter-Making from the University of Humanistic Studies in 2001. Quarter-Making involves working to create a welcoming society for those with a history of psychiatric disturbances and others who may experience social exclusion, such as those living with learning difficulties. Her thesis is a qualitative description of – and in part a philosophical reflection on – a quarter-making project which she initiated in 1997 while a prevention officer working in the field of psychiatric health at Riagg Haagrand.
Prior to that, she attended the Haagse Sociale Academie (The Hague Social Academy), completing a part-time study programme in Residential Social Work and later a programme in Community Building at the Protestantse Voortgezette Opleiding (Protestant College of Further Education). Another professional experience which was formative for her was the Platform GGZ Amsterdam (Amsterdam Mental Health Care Platform), which is committed to renewing and democratizing mental health care in Amsterdam.
After completing her PhD, Doortje worked for the introduction of the presence approach in mental health care. In addition, she worked with the National Quarter-Making Support Centre, which raises awareness of the body of thought on which quarter-making is based and encourages, supports and coaches the practice of quarter-making across the country. Since the publication of a German version of her doctoral thesis, she has also become active in Germany on a frequently basis.
Doortje Kal joined HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht on 1 June 2011 as special professor in Quarter-Making. For the past two years, this special research group has been linked to the research group on Participation, Care and Support under Professor Jean-Pierre Wilken.
Special research group
The research group uses both its teaching and research work – in which it seeks to involve as many students and teaching staff as possible – to help promote the cause of social acceptance of difference. Its research programme centres on five themes, which are introduced by a critical dialogue with those involved in the issues, and with as many ‘spectators’ as possible, who may become participants during the dialogue.
The five themes of the special research group are:
- The added value of a quarter-maker who can offer experience and expertise for neighbourhood teams;
- Civic friendship (such as friendship services and buddy projects);
- The economics of inclusion - working on niche diversity;
- The ills of exclusion;
- The organization of a quarter-makers festival at the university of applied sciences, under the motto: In praise of visibility.