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, languages, 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.


Prof Sybe de Vries at final bEUcitizen conference
15 June 2017
The final conference of bEUcitizen took place on 26-28 April 2017 in Brussels (Belgium). The theme was “The Future of EU Citizenship”.
Val van de Berlijnse Muur (1989). Bron: Wikimedia Commons
31 May 2017
The conference ‘1989 and the West. New Perspectives on the End of the Cold War’, was organised by Eleni Braat and Pepijn Corduwener.
22 May 2017
As part of his stay in Utrecht, psychologist and visiting fellow Roy Baumeister spoke on "Thinking about the Future" in the University Hall.


23 - 24
23 June 2017 09:30 - 24 June 2017 14:30
A two day conference that aims to showcase the latest insights in nudging theory, policy and practice.
6 - 9
6 July 2017 09:00 - 9 July 2017 17:00
The American Comparative Literature Association's 2017 Annual Meeting will take place at Utrecht University in Utrecht, July 6-9, 2017.
10 - 14
10 July 2017 16:00 - 14 July 2017 19:00
The XVI Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC) takes place in Utrecht in 2017.