Public Engagement

Our cultural historians are available for advice or presentations on topics such as:

  • The role of history in current debates
  • The cultural history of Indonesia
  • The representation of social groups in historical discussions
  • Dealing with cultural heritage
  • The societal and political role of museums
  • The cultural history of the Netherlands and Europe
  • The history of science and the University of Utrecht
  • The historical role of scientific expertise in society
  • Digital and computational methods and infrastructure in the humanities
  • The Canon of Dutch History
  • History education in secondary education

Curious about what we can offer your company or organisation? Contact Dr Britta Schilling.


In many of our projects, we collaborate with societal partners or aim to engage the broader population. Below are examples of how we seek societal connections:

Decolonisation of museums

Terramar Museum Bonaire ©
Terramar Museum Bonaire ©

Gertjan Plets, Christianne Smit, and students of the Master Cultural History and Heritage developed a new exhibition concept for the Terramar Museum in Kralendijk (Bonaire) in response to local heritage communities' requests. Together, they are developing a new permanent collection with a focus on slavery and climate change.

History of book distribution

Book about Savannah Bay

Marijke Huisman, after producing with the help of students a book about Savanah Bay, a long-standing feminist bookshop in Utrecht, and its network of employees, authors, customers and campaigners, has just finished a monograph about the history of the Centraal Boekhuis, commissioned by this national distribution centre for books.

Representation of diversity in the Netherlands

The Future is Europe, street art in Brussel - CC2.0 Jeremy Segrott
The future is Europe: street art in Brussels (CC2.0, Jeremy Segrott)

Rachel Gillett leads the research project Re/presenting Europe, with Jaap Verheul and Hanneke Tuithof also involved. The project focuses on education and research from postcolonial and globalizing perspectives. By focusing on popular representations of diversity and belonging, Re/presenting Europe aims to replace contested narratives of racialization and stereotypes with positive identifications. The project also includes socially engaged activities, such as producing podcasts and a documentary about the emergence and significance of rap, hip-hop, and graffiti in the Netherlands over the past 40 years, in collaboration with artists, Beeld en Geluid, and the Black Archives.

Historical street names project

Logo van bitterzoete route
Walking trail 'Bitterzoete route'

Britta Schilling was instrumental in guiding students in the Historical Street Names project. The original initiative by the Grauwe Eeuw working group was embraced by the Municipality of Utrecht and distributed via the Akademia van Utrecht to the university. The goal was to study Utrecht's colonial past through heritage that is controversial. In collaboration with the Gepeperde Straten working group, students have mapped out a historical Bitterzoete route through Lombok, with critical historical context about the places and people mentioned in the street names.

Reassessment of the Canon of the Netherlands

Canon van Nederland
Canon of Dutch History

Hanneke Tuithof was a member of the Reassessment Committee for the Canon of the Netherlands. The committee aimed to make the Canon more inclusive and to provide new texts for the 50 historical windows on Dutch history. Hanneke specialises in didactics and serves as the connecting link between our department and history teachers nationwide, for example, through the refresher courses she provides for secondary school teachers.

Cultural perception of ecology and energy

Het Slochter Molecuul
Current presentation of Dutch energy history

Within the cultural history department, various colleagues are researching the cultural perception and representation of climate change, ecology, and energy. For example, Flora Roberts focuses on the changing cultural attitudes towards rivers. In the Petrocultures intersections with Cultural Europe project sponsored by Horizon Europe, Gertjan Plets questions the current ideas and persistent myths surrounding oil and natural gas in the Netherlands, and how cultural norms and heritage can accelerate or slow down the green transition.