Our work is research-based: grounded in the literature, extensively tested, and reported in peer-reviewed journals

The different aspects of our work are grounded in academic research:

  • The Worldview Test is based on social science survey research, while building on findings and analysis in, amongst others, sociology, philosophy, and psychology.
  • The Big Questions are based on a study of philosophers’ thinking about the concept of worldview.
  • The Seven-Step Learning Journey, a transformative learning cycle that we use to structure our learning trajectories, has been developed using educational design research.
  • The Educational Worldview Journey has been designed and researched using educational design research (forthcoming);
  • The Essential Human Capabilities Framework is based on an extensive study of the educational literature (forthcoming).

The ‘Worldview Test’

The development of what became known as the Worldview Test is based on extensive academic research, reported in this article, published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Policy. With this study an important step has been taken toward the development of a valid, reliable worldview-instrument.

In this study, two approaches to studying worldviews have been creatively combined.

Philosophers and historians have explored worldviews in analytical and speculative fashion, attempting to distill the metaphysical underpinnings of our collective thinking. They forged an understanding of the general thrust of the historical-developmental trajectory of cultural epochs in the West, distinguishing between different Zeitgeist’s.

Social scientists often took a more empirical, quantitative approach, developing research scales and surveys to question different populations about their beliefs and values, frequently using statistics to reveal overarching patterns in meaning-making.

The Worldview Test combines these approaches. On the one hand, it is grounded in a qualitative understanding of the historical thrust of evolving worldviews in the West, distinguishing between traditional, modern, postmodern, and integrative worldviews. Simultaneously, it bridges to quantitative approaches by developing short, relatively simple statements that answer the ‘Big Questions’ that worldviews give answers to.

The survey resulting from this approach enables us to investigate these worldviews empirically, and establish overarching patterns. Using this approach, we found four worldviews with a reasonable degree of reliability, as well as consistent relationships between these worldviews and opinions, political priorities, and behaviors.

However, there are limitations to this kind of study, as well as avenues for improvement. For one, language brings complications, as the same term can have varying meanings in different cultural contexts. Research aimed at culturally sensitive language-testing could help overcome this. Explorations of how the Worldview Test can be translated to in particular non-Western cultural contexts would also be highly useful.

This test is the outcome of Annick de Witt’s 7 years of researching worldviews, in relation to sustainability issues, and writing her dissertation in this field.

The Seven-Step Learning Journey: A transformative learning cycle

This learning cycle is practically highly useful for structuring transformative learning processes. The article reporting the study was published in the Journal of Transformative Education, and can be found (and downloaded) here. This is the abstract:

In a world in need of profound change, the importance of transformative education is increasingly recognized. However, barriers abound in our Higher Education Institutions, including that educators often have little notion of how to make their teaching more transformative in practice. This paper builds on our experience of developing a transformative learning intervention in the context of our sustainability education at Utrecht University.

For this project, we designed a learning cycle consisting of seven steps, summarized as excavateabsorbexperienceobservedeepenexchange, and consolidate. We tested this seven-step learning journey in two Bachelor courses, using qualitative student evaluations (n = 305), and then substantiated it by drawing on the learning sciences literature.

We conclude this cycle can help educators structure their teaching; include reflective, experiential, and interactive learning methodologies; and invite learners to systematically reflect on their change in meaning making, thereby supporting (transformative) education design in different contexts.