Research Areas

Education Science(s) Development


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AIIJR, general fund, program of summer courses of the J.-J. Rousseau Institute, summer 1916.

The advent of pedagogy as a moral science and then as an experimental and social science in Geneva is part of the wake of the international movement which is seeing a multiplication since the end of the 19th, Chairs, laboratories, institutes all or part dedicated to the educational reflection . While exemplifying a broader movement, the Geneva case immediately takes on specific configurations that will have a lasting influence on the evolution of the disciplinary field. If only because of the fact that it is based on the first Institute of Education Sciences, one of the only ones to last throughout the 20th century and whose scale has little equivalent in Europe.

While pedagogy is established in Letters, psychology finds a place first in Science, to build an experimental science of the soul, a venture that then extends into an Institute of Education Sciences, to promote an approach resolutely scientific educational phenomena. Only after the end of the Great War, thanks to the powerful pedagogical, pacifist and internationalist impulse generating the conviction that "the future of democracy requires scholars of childhood", these initiatives are put into practice. in synergy, allowing the Institute to be attached to the University, a condition of its future and of its academic recognition as a disciplinary field. While the sciences of education find their first institutional inscription under their plural denomination, the history of the disciplinary field in Geneva is entirely imbricated, even confused, with that of psychology, to which the Institute will gradually offer a niche allowing the unfolding, incomparable, Piagetian psychology of development and intelligence.

    • This research is part of a Habilitation (HDR), presented by Rita Hofstetter at the Paris-Sorbonne IV Institute of History (Pr J.-N. Luc)., Published in 2010: Hofstetter, R. (2010). Geneva: crucible of educational sciences (late nineteenth century - first half of the twentieth century). Genèvre: Droz. 

    • It continued collectively in a group working for the centenary of the IJJR by integrating the more recent history of the sciences of education in Geneva, with the transformation, in 1975, of the Institute into the Faculty of Psychology and educational sciences, the result of which is a richly illustrated work: One hundred years of life (1912-2012). The FPSE, heiress of the Rousseau Institute and the Piagetian era, of Rita Hofstetter, Marc Ratcliff and Bernard Schneuwly. 


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We have conducted a vast survey on the history of the sciences of education in Switzerland. The chosen period begins in the last decades of the 19th, when are founded the first chairs all or part dedicated to the pedagogy or science (s) of education, and extends throughout the first half of the 20th century. We were able to analyze how institutes and institutes are gradually becoming institutionalized and differentiated in order to professionalize educational research.


Switzerland offers the advantage of being at the confluence of distinct cultural areas, thus constituting a laboratory on its own to attempt to pinpoint the effect of different academic traditions on early developments in the sciences of education.
Different aims in the work of ERHISE on the history of the sciences of education in the Swiss context: to describe factually the evolution of the disciplinary field in Switzerland and thus contribute to a better knowledge of the springs of its emergence and its development. In doing so, the institutional and cognitive logics underlying the different academic traditions in which the selected sites are inscribed, namely contrasting configurations, are highlighted.

  • Hofstetter, R. & Schneuwly, B. (avec la participation de Lussi, V., Cicchini, M., Criblez, L. & Späni, M.) (2007). Emergence des sciences de l'éducation en Suisse. A la croisée de traditions académiques contrastées (fin du 19e - première moitié du 20e siècle). Berne: Peter Lang
  • Hofstetter, R. & Schneuwly, B. (mit Criblez, L., Späni, M., Lussi, V. & Cicchini, M.) (2011). Zur Geschichte der Erziehungswissenschaften in der Schweiz. Vom Ende des 19. bis zur Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts. Bern: HEP Verlag. Description and order.


This work benefited from two subsidies from the SNSF.



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AIIJR, Adolphe Ferrière fonds, Locarno LIEN Congress, 1927.

The research carried out in this context offers a reflection on the recent evolution of the sciences of education in Switzerland and in Europe. Conducted in collaboration with other researchers in education on the continent, they aim to provide tools to analyze, from a critical point of view, the recent evolutions of the field, its potentialities and its limits, and even to provide , on this basis, prospective elements likely to boost the disciplinary field.
Publications in this research area :
  • Hofstetter, R. & Schneuwly, B. (Ed.). (2002). Science(s)de l'éducation (19e-20e siècles). Entre champs professionnels et champs disciplinaires. Erziehungswissenschaft(en). (19.-20. Jahrhundert). Zwischen Profession und Disziplin. Berne: Peter Lang. (Descriptif de l'ouvrage / Commande de l'ouvrage)
  • Hofstetter, R. & Schneuwly, B. (Ed.). (2002). The Emergence and Development of the Educational Research in Europe.European Educational Research Journal1(1).  (Table des matières, résumé & textes)
  • Hofstetter, R., Schneuwly, B. & Gretler A. (Ed.). (2000). Sciences de l’éducation, pratiques sociales d’une discipline. Revue suisse des sciences de l’éducation22(1). (Table des matières & résumés )
  • Hofstetter, R. & Schneuwly B. (1998). (Ed.), Le pari des sciences de l'éducation (Raisons éducatives, N° 1/2). Bruxelles: De Boeck. (Descriptif et commande de l'ouvrage)