Growth into Citizenship in Civil Society Encounters


Project description

Growth into citizenship in civil society encounters is a consortium project which combines the expertise of development ethnography and philosophical pragmatism and joins the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Oulu (University of Eastern Finland in 2015-2016). The project collaborates with the Makerere University in Uganda, and the University of Dodoma in Tanzania.

The main objective is to develop a new theoretical framework of growth into citizenship for development research in dialogue with philosophical pragmatism and  development ethnography. This objective is divided into three subtasks: 1) to investigate the theoretical conditions of growth into citizenship in the context of philosophical pragmatism; 2) to explore the processes of growth into citizenship in the encounters within civil society development interventions in selected cases in Uganda and Tanzania ; and 3) to experiment with methodology where pragmatism informs ethnography and ethnographic findings facilitate the construction of new theory.

In the dialogical methodology used, pragmatism informs the fieldwork focus and the ethnographic findings contribute to the theory development. Each case provides a vignette of changing citizenships interpreted through John Dewey’s notion of learning as growth, in the context of value pluralism, and citizenship mainly conceptualized as learned abilities and habits of participation. Moreover, the construction and negotiation of the notion of citizenship is investigated within the contexts of civil society interventions explicitly addressing citizenship. The areas of interests include different perceptions of citizenship and their transformations along the negotiations, characteristics of different societal contexts, different patterns of social memberships, and political peculiarities of African political societies, as well as their potential implications to the conceptual understandings will be examined.  

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Project results


6.-7.6.2019 Closing seminar of GROW-project In Helsinki, Finland: Learning citizenship? Philosophical pragmatism meets lived experiences in Tanzania and Uganda. With representatives from UCL Institute of Education (London), University of Helsinki, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Academy of Finland.

6.-11.1.2019 GROW- and CS-Learn Writing Retreat in Entebbe, Uganda: The GROW-articles were progressed by all participants of the project in a week-long shared writing retreat in Entebbe, Uganda. Contracts have been signed with the publisher and the book is taking shape as planned.

3.-4.9. 2018 Project seminar
Members of the GROW-project and it's successor project CS-learn met at the University of Oulu in GROW-book and CS-learn kick-off seminar to discuss shared issues and the forthcoming publication of GROW research results in the form of a peer reviewed academic book.

27. 8.2018 Conference presentation
Holma, K. & Kontinen, T. (2018) Learning to be a ”better” citizen? Towards pragmatist normativity in development research. Theory of Education SIG Conference, University of Cambridge, UK.

15. 8.2018 Conference presentation
Kauppi, V-M. Conscient Experience – Paulo Freire meets John Dewey. In PhD Workshop, 16th International Network of Philosophers of Education Conference 2018, 'Education, Dialogue and Hope', University of Haifa, Israel.

17.-20.6.2018 Annual GROW-Seminar in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The consortium projects met in Dar es Salaam to discuss the emerging results, the next steps and publication plans.

1.2.2018 - Doctoral Researcher
Veli-Mikko Kauppi started in the project as a doctoral researcher. His PhD thesis will consider citizenship and civil society encounters in the philosophies of Freire and Dewey. 

19.-21.6.2017 - Project workshop
The consortium projects met in the University of Jyväskylä and discussed the data generation in the communities in Tanzania and Uganda, issues emerging from the data analysis, and the potential connections between the conceptual ideas and people's narratives. Very fruitful mid-term seminar resulting into new ideas. 

16.2.2017 - Conference presentation
Kontinen, T. , Alice N. Ndidde & Karembe F. Ahimbisibwe (2017) Spaces for learning of citizenship in a Ugandan gender NGO. In: Development Days 2017, University of Helsinki, Finland, 16.2.2017.

1.12.2016 - Symposium presentation
Kontinen, T. (2016) Growth into citizenship. An approach to conceptualize learning in development. Jyväskylä Development Studies Symposium, 1.12.2016.

26.10.2016 - Conference presentation
Holma, K. (2016) John Dewey’s Philosophy and Lived Experiences of Growth. In: John Dewey’s Democracy and Education 100 years Anniversary. Democracy and Education: Reversing the Democratic Recession? Oslo, Norway, 26.10.2016.

21.10.2016 - Research collaboration meeting
GROW- team met with Senior Researcher Sirkku Hellsten from the Nordic Africa Institute, and discussed  African philosophy, civil society and fieldwork enjoying Sirkku's vast experience.

19.10.2016 - Conference presentation
Kontinen, T. , Kilonzon, R. , Nguyahambi, A. & Holma, K. (2016) Building citizenship capacities in Tanzanian civil society: Learning as growth into democratic habits. In: Education Africa? Prospects and Challenges of the New Generation. University of Jyväskylä, 19.10.2016.

30.9.2016 - Conference presentation
Blanken-Webb, J., Holma, K. & Kontinen, T. (2016). Growth into Citizenship: John Dewey’s Philosophy and Lived Experiences in East Africa. In: Dewey's 'Democracy and Education': 100 years on. University of Cambridge, UK, 28.-30.9.2016.

12.8.2016 - Conference presentation
Kilonzo, R., Kontinen, T., Ndidde, A. & Nguyahambi, A. (2016) Citizenship and civil society interventions. Reflections from Tanzania and Uganda. In: 28th Conference of Nordic Sociological Association, Working group: Sociological knowledge production in contested and contingent “North-South relationships”, Helsinki 11.-13.8.2016.

6.-8.7. 2016 Project workshop
The team gathered in Kampala to clarify research methodology and data collection design. It also negotiated with the case NGOs in Uganda and visited the partner College in Makerere University. 

30.-31.5.2016 - Workshop organized by project members
"Pluralism", University of Helsinki -

15.4.2016 - Publication
Holma, K. & Kontinen, T. (2015) The Rocky Road of Growth into Contemporary Citizenship: Dewey, Gramsci, and the Method of Democracy. Studier i Pædagogisk Filosofi 4 (2), 24-37.

7.4.2016 - Conference presentation
Blanken-Webb, J. & Holma, K. (2016). Growth into Citizenship: John Dewey’s Philosophy and Pluralist Contexts in East Africa. In: John Dewey Society: The Centennial Conference on Democracy and Education, Washington DC, 7-8.4.2016.

30.9.-2.10.2015  - GROW  kick-off seminar in Helsinki
The research consortium (see the photo above) gathered for three days seminar in Helsinki. Participants were exhausted but satisfied after searching for shared understanding of concepts, designing methodologies and setting schedules. A plenty of learning, intensive debates, and a lot of laughter.

Our website is open! Here you can find basic information about our project. News about the progress will be updated.



Project leader, Consortium: Katariina Holma, Professor, University of Oulu

Project leader, University of Jyväskylä: Tiina Kontinen, Academy of Finland Research Fellow

Postdoctoral reseacher:  Henrik Rydenfelt, University of Helsinki / University of Eastern Finland (2016) / University of Oulu (2017)

Postdoctoral researcher:  Jane Blanken-Webb, Unversity of Illinois at Urbana Champaign / University of Eastern Finland (2015-2016)

Postdoctoral researcher: Ajali M. Nguyahambi, University of Dodoma / University of Jyväskylä (2017-2019)

Doctoral researcher: Veli-Mikko Kauppi, University of Oulu (2018-2020)

Researcher: Alice Ndidde, Makerere University, Uganda / University of Jyväskylä

Researcher: Rehema Kilonzo, University of Dodoma, Tanzania  / University of Jyväskylä

Assistant researcher: Karembe Ahimbisibwe,  Makerere University / University of Jyväskylä

Assistant researcher: Haji Chang'a, University of Dodoma / University of Jyväskylä



Katariina Holma

Katariina Holma

Professor, Head of the Research Unit

Veli-Mikko Kauppi

Doctoral Student