Sharing Knowledge

We are keen to make our expertise in the field of history of international relations available to society. In various project we collaborate with societal and governmental organisations. We welcome commissions from businesses and institutions to carry out historical research, and other (public) activities are also possible. For example, Utrecht-based historians regularly give public lectures and press interviews.

This page shows recent examples of our contributions to solutions for societal issues.

Are you interested in possibilities for cooperation? Please contact Dr Joost Dankers, +31 (0)30 253 9145.

Ter Info - Discussing Terrorism in the classroom

Ter Info - Discussing Terrorism in the classroom

Violent events such as terrorist attacks impact societies tremendously. School pupils nowadays increasingly learn about these kinds of events around the world, partly due to the rise of social media and the multiple use thereof. Moreover, young people also discuss and think about terrorism differently. That is why there is a need to talk about terrorism in a sensible way. With this in mind, Prof. Beatrice de Graaf, Prof. Micha de Winter and Prof. Mariëtte de Haan, launched the Ter Info project as a contribution to the municipal action plan 'Utrecht Zijn We Samen'.

Mobile website

Ter Info is a mobile website aimed at increasing social resistance to terrorism in primary and secondary education. The website helps teachers to discuss terrorism in a clear, factual, responsible and connecting way with students. Ter Info offers concise and balanced information and pedagogical tools to start a class discussion about this controversial topic.

More information on the experiences of the Ter Info team.

National French police in Paris

The State of Emergency and Threats of Terrorism

This research project analysed the experiences of Western governments with calling out state of emergency in response to threats of terrorism. The main question was: “What are the political and societal consequences of calling out a state of emergency in response to threats of terrorism?” The researchers analysed the experiences of France, Belgium, and Germany, and provided recommendations for the Ministry of Justice and Security of the Netherlands. The interdisciplinary project is carried in a collaboration between the Department of Public Administration, the Law Department and the History Department of Utrecht University. The full report (in Dutch) is available online.

Historians' Days 2017

The triennial Historians' Days (Historicidagen) were held in Utrecht in 2017, from 24 to 26 August. Three days full of inspiring lectures, debates and workshops about a wide range of topics relevant to present-day historians. The aim of the Historians' Days is to foster collaboration between all kinds of historical professionals and to jointly underline the relevance of studying history.

Beatrice de Graaf geeft college bij De Wereld Draait Door

At the invitation of the popular Dutch TV show De Wereld Draait Door, Prof. Beatrice de Graaf gave two lectures which were broadcast on national television (DWDD University) and attracted over 1.2 million viewers. In her first lecture, on terrorism, she distinguished four waves of terrorism since the late 19th century and discussed how terrorist movements emerge and disappear. In the second lecture, on espionage, De Graaf explained the world of intelligence and security services.


Dare to be Grey

In this exciting project 21 students from Utrecht University under supervision of Prof. Jacco Pekelder created a social media campaign against polarisation in society: #DaretobeGrey. With this project, the student team competed in the international competition 'Peer2Peer: Challenging Extremism' 2016, sponsored by the US Department of State and Facebook. The students were able to raise considerable awareness of the problem and were met with international critical acclaim. In June 2016 the students were invited to present their campaign in Washington as one of the top six competing teams. The project was awarded the first place by Facebook and received a prize of $5.000, to be used to further the campaign.

TEDx talk Bob de Graaff

On 27 January 2017, Bob de Graaff delivered a talk for TEDx Sittard-Geleen. The theme of the event was Be Bright Together and in this context, Bob de Graaff talked about intelligence. Privatisation or individualisation of intelligence is upcoming and everybody will be affected by the consequences. The information gathered by intelligence services will not only be used by public and private actors but also politically. The talk, titled Formerly secret intelligence becomes ubiquitous, it'll disappear, can be seen here.

Counter-Narrative Programmes Aimed at Social Media

People are social beings. As such, they continuously influence each other. When like-minded people influence each other, supported by an ideology of violence, this attitude of polarisation can translate into a radical belief system, in which people justify the use of violence to reach political goals. Nowadays, these social influence attempts frequently occur via social media. This research project aims to explore the role of the use of social media as a means to de-radicalise individuals who are potentially susceptible to radicalisation.

Showing the Flag: the role of the flag on sea in the international relations of the early modern period

This project studies the role of flags on the international waters of the early modern world. The project aims to combine maritime symbolism with the general history of the Dutch Republic, resulting in a publication (The Dutch in the Early Modern World: The Rise and Fall of a Global Power) with Cambridge University Press in 2018, as well as a number of international academic articles about flag presentation. 

Evaluation of Dutch National Counterterrorism Strategy 2011-2015

This evaluation aimed at providing insight in the contribution of the strategy in reducing the risk of attacks, the fear of attacks, and the potential damage of attacks. Main focus is on the joint intervention capacity: the joint capability of the organisations involved to deliver a targeted, legitimate and resilient contribution towards the aims of the strategy.

The strategy is evaluated by examining the drafting of national strategic plans, stimulation of cooperation between the national partners, and implementing a comprehensive approach at the local level. Finally, the evaluation provides input for the national counterterrorism strategy 2016-2020.

Ilsemann Diaries on Kaiser Wilhelm II

Commissioned by Museum Huis Doorn, Jacco Pekelder produced a source edition of the diaries of the Prussian officer Sigurd von Ilsemann, who accompanied the last German emperor Wilhelm II during his exile in the Netherlands after Wold War One (1918-1941). Together with 14 students of Utrecht University, working as interns at Doorn, he modernised an existing Dutch translation and added explanatory texts and an index. Next to this, Pekelder wrote an extensive introduction.


Refresher courses for History teachers

Dr Laurien Crump, staff member of the History of International Relations section, initiated the organisation of an annual conference in which secondary school teachers of History are trained to prepare their students for the final exams in a creative and academic manner. This national event is hosted by Utrecht University’s Department of History and Art History  together with the Utrechts Stedelijk Gymnasium.

Afghaanse politie tijdens trainingsprogramma in Kunduz ©

Assessment of the Dutch Integrated Police Training Mission in Kunduz, Afghanistan

This research monitors the impact of the Dutch Integrated Police Training Mission (IPM) in Kunduz, Afghanistan. The report is designed to identify changes in community perceptions of the justice system in Kunduz province within the context of the ongoing Dutch mission to build the capacity of rule of law institutions. The Centre for Conflict Studies acted as a review board and has provided oversight with regards to research methodology, data collection and report-writing processes. Centre for Conflict Studies additionally did the design, analysis and writing of case studies.