René Veenstra (1969), Ph.D., is a Full Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Groningen, and a board member of the Interuniversity Center for Social Science Theory and Methodology (ICS), the Netherlands. His work focuses on the theoretical and empirical elaboration of a social network approach to bullying and victimization and pro- and antisocial behavior.
Veenstra has been the Principal Investigator of a personal NWO VICI grant (2015-2021), a fundamental research grant from NWO-PROO on Social networks processes and social development of children and adolescents (2013-2019), and a grant from the Ministry of Education (Onderwijs Bewijs Actieprogramma II) to implement and evaluate the KiVa Antibullying Program in the Netherlands (2010-2015). He is a member of the steering committee of GUTS (Growing Up Together in Society), funded by the Ministry of Science with 22 million euros. This 10-year program (2023-2032) has the ambition to examine optimal opportunities for young people, both for themselves and for the present and future society. His grant total is > 6M€ as PI (plus 30M€ as Co-PI).
Of his Ph.D. students, 27 have successfully completed their dissertations and 10 are in progress. His former Ph.D. students and postdocs have found academic positions and are at the forefront of their fields, as evidenced by the acceptance of their papers in high-impact journals, the grants they have successfully applied for (ERC Consolidator, ERC Starting, VENI, Marie Curie, Rubicon), and the awards they have received (ISSBD Young Scientist Award, NSV Dissertation Prize, Praemium Erasmianum, EARA Young Scholar Award, Alberti Center Early Career Award). More about Ph.D. projects.
He has a strong track record in data collection. He was data manager (2000-2005) and is now a member of the management team of the longitudinal TRAILS project, which follows a cohort of preadolescents (born around 1990) into adulthood. He received three NWO Investment Medium grants for TRAILS. To date, seven waves of TRAILS have been completed. Another large data collection project that he led was the KiVa project, in which 10.000 children in 400 classes in 100 schools completed online questionnaires.
He is an elected member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities and an elected fellow of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development. He was a visiting professor at the Department of Psychology at the University of Turku, Finland (2007-2012). He was Associate Editor of the Journal of Research on Adolescence (2010-2016).
He teaches criminology and primary social order. In the past, he has lectured on policy and intervention, statistics, and methodology, and he supervised a project oncriminality and security (with Intraval). He is a regular speaker at science communication events, including talks on bullying at the Children’s University.
The QANU Research Review 2014 rated the research program in Sociology at the University of Groningen as very good to excellent (4.5 for productivity and viability) and excellent (5.0 for quality and relevance). René Veenstra was the Research Director of the Department of Sociology and the Director of the ICS from 2014 to 2023.
- Good Housekeeping: Zero-Tolerance Bullying Policies Just Don’t Work, August 2023
- UG Blog: Open Access Publication in the Spotlight, November 2021.
- Ukrant: A Nobel Prize winner as a teacher: All the cool research being done at the UG, August 2020
- UG Blog: ‘Upside Down World – five questions’, April 2020 (PDF)
- Slate: Anti-bullying efforts need to address the stubborn problem of popular bullies, May 2016
- Unifocus: René Veenstra nominated for the Huibregtsen Prize 2015, July 2015
- Unifocus: Looking at Problem Behavior, November 2012
- UG Opinion: Stop the proliferation of anti-bullying programmes, January 2011
- New York Times: Maybe Bullies Just Want to Be Loved, May 2010
- Live Science: Behind Bullying: Why Kids Are So Cruel, April 2010
- WebMD: What Motivates Kids Who Are Bullies?, March 2010
- Telegraph: Bullies Are Looking for Affection, March 2010
- Live Science: Bullies Pick on Unpopular Kids, March 2010
- MagisNet (in Spanish): Estrategias de un matón: acosar sin perder los afectos en clase, June 2010