The strength of societies is to a large extent determined by the quality of their institutions, which are the formal and informal frameworks for human interaction. These institutions – laws, customs, networks, organisations, etc. – enable or constrain the realisation of an open, democratic and equitable society. They also determine a society’s ability to absorb shocks and its sustainability. 

At Utrecht University, scholars from the fields of economics, history, public administration, culture, law, sociology, social psychology, language and communication, ethics, innovation studies, and geography join forces to find answers to the following key questions: Why do societies develop so divergently? And how do institutions contribute to the formation of open and sustainable societies?

Institutions for Open Societies (IOS) is one of the strategic themes of Utrecht University.


Foto van B. Groote & Co, collectie Stadsarchief Amsterdam
9 November 2018
Queen Wilhelmina played a much more active role in the Kaiser’s fleeing to the Netherlands than has always been assumed.
Erik Stam
8 November 2018
Bij de fundamentele veranderingen op de arbeidsmarkt horen mogelijk nieuwe regels, wetten en belastingen. Erik Stam is gevraagd om dat mede te onderzoeken.
5 November 2018
Last month the book 'Capabilities in a Just Society. A Theory of Navigational Agency' by dr. Rutger Claassen has been published.


15 - 23
Oct Nov
15 October 2018 09:00 - 23 November 2018 17:00
The tenth call for proposals for the ‘Seed Money’ initiative of strategic theme Institutions for Open Societies is now open.
5 - 14
Nov Dec
5 November 2018 09:00 - 14 December 2018 17:00
Enroll in the sixth edition. This free online course is for everyone who is interested in the protection of human rights and the idea of open societies.
20 November 2018 14:30 - 17:30
On 20 November the Gender & Diversity Hub organises a stakeholder meeting.