Dr. Hülya Kosar Altinyelken works as an assistant professor at the Child Development and Education Department. She earned her bachelor's degree in International Relations from the Middle East Technical University in Turkey (cum laude). She pursued her master's degree in International Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam (cum laude), with a focus on education and migration. She received a grant to conduct Ph.D. research as part of the IS Academie program, a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Her Ph.D. research focused on a two-country comparative study of curriculum change and pedagogical renewal in Uganda and Turkey, titled “Changing pedagogy: A comparative analysis of reform efforts in Uganda and Turkey.”
Post-Ph.D., she joined an EU-funded comparative study (2010-2013) on the education of disadvantaged students across Europe, known as “The Governance of Education Trajectories in Europe.” In this role, she coordinated the Dutch team, and played a central role in coordinating ethnographic research in 24 European cities. Starting in 2012, she collaborated with the Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of Oslo, and University of Malta to develop an international master’s program, called “The Education Policies for Global Development” (http://globed.eu) which aimed at setting new standards as an international Master in the field of globalization, education and international development. The program obtained an Erasmus + grant (2014-2019) and Hülya taught in the master’s program for three consecutive years.
In 2016, she received the prestigious Talent program VENI grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research to conduct a study entitled as “Between the school and the mosque: Young Muslims negotiating citizenship in the Netherlands”. The project aimed at looking into the influence of non-formal Islamic-education on young Muslims’ values and norms, and then comparing these with their socialisation and learning in mainstream secondary schools, to identify the commonalities and the differences, and the implications thereof. As a co-investigator, she obtained an NWO/Comenius Senior Fellow, entitled “The Challenges and Opportunities in International Classrooms”. The project aimed installing a multi-levelled trajectory of change toward an intercultural (multicultural) perspective and intercultural practice in higher education.
Throughout her academic career, Hülya has developed independent lines of research on a variety of topical issues with high societal relevance. These broadly fall under three research strands: i) inclusion and diversity in education, ii) curricular and pedagogical reforms and the role of teachers, and iii) religion, spirituality, and education.
Inclusion and diversity in education: Research in this domain has primarily centred on the education of both internal and international migrants, examining the factors and mechanisms contributing to their exclusion from educational processes, as well as their coping and resilience. The initial study concentrated on internal migrant girls, whose families relocated from rural areas in the east to the western parts of Turkey. This research delved into the educational challenges leading to their exclusion and identified coping mechanisms employed. Subsequently, as part of a comparative research study across eight EU countries, a focus was placed on the education of children with a migration background in the Netherlands, with a particular emphasis on vocational schools. Another project centred on international classrooms within higher education. In this project, Hülya led the work package on "curriculum,", analysing course outlines of four bachelor programs, interviewing lecturers to identify the individual, institutional, or contextual factors influencing their choices, and formulating suggestions for designing curricula in a diversity-rich manner. Her ongoing project in this domain focuses on inclusion and resilience within higher education, aiming to explore the factors that enhance or undermine these aspects. This project includes three sub-studies focusing on students with a migration background, international students, and academics.
Curricular and pedagogical reforms: Research in this field delves into global curricular and pedagogical trends, exploring the transfer of Western education policies (e.g., competency-based curriculum, student, or child-centred pedagogy) to diverse contexts and examining how they are received by policymakers and mediated by teachers in classroom settings. The focus has been on determining whether the convergence evident in global policy discussions on classroom pedagogy translates to similar convergence at the classroom level. Various projects on this topic have investigated how global and official national discourses on pedagogy have influenced teaching and learning practices in classrooms. The research also explored teacher voices to understand the extent to which they were incorporated into the policy adoption process and explored how they either welcome or resist Western pedagogies during the enactment process. In doing so, the projects responded to the imperative of examining local agencies that indigenize educational imports. The collaborative work on this topic has been published in various contexts, including Turkey, Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, offering a comprehensive and cross-cultural perspective on the adaptation of Western pedagogies in different educational landscapes.
Religion, spirituality, and education: Research in this area entails a comprehensive examination of non-formal Islamic education in the Netherlands, with a specific focus on four distinct Muslim communities—Turkish, Moroccan, Pakistani, and Egyptian. Hülya's research delved into the demands placed on Islamic education, elucidating its objectives, content, and pedagogical approaches. Additionally, the research scrutinized the values and norms acquired by children in these non-formal settings, drawing comparisons with those learned in mainstream secondary schools. In cases of contradiction, the study investigated how young individuals exercise their individual and collective agency to make choices and explored the implications of these decisions. Key aspects explored included boundary maintenance between sexes, attitudes toward romantic relationships before marriage, the promotion of critical thinking, and considerations of gender equality. Furthermore, Hülya has explored the potential of a mindfulness program to enhance psycho-social well-being among international students at a Dutch university. The study focused on the perceived impact of mindfulness interventions on regulating difficult emotions and thoughts, as well as changes in students' intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships. Her ongoing research in this domain centers on a contemplative pedagogical practice known as "Inquiry." This project involves the implementation of the inquiry practice in higher education settings, aiming to explore its potential to foster inclusion, deep listening, and enhanced learning in diverse classroom environments.
Hülya is committed to bridging the gap between research and policy, bringing valuable insights and practical experience to both domains. Her professional background includes positions at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she served as a policy officer from 2003 to 2006 and later as a senior policy advisor from 2019 to 2022. In this capacity, she contributed to the Directorate-General for International Cooperation within the Social Development Department. In this capacity, Hülya served as the Executive Committee member of the UN's Global Fund for Education in Emergencies, Education Cannot Wait, representing the Netherlands. Additionally, she acted as the Dutch representative at the European Union Member States Education Experts group, and the UNICEF Education Partner Group. These are international forums that convene senior technical experts, providing a platform for fostering strategic policy discussions among key bilateral and multilateral donors in the field of education.