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, 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.


9 March 2017
Utrecht University and City of Utrecht start experiment to study alternative forms of social assistance
3 March 2017
Laurien Crump is awarded the George Blazyca Prize for her monograph 'The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered: International Relations in Eastern Europe, 1955-1969'.
De weegschaal van Vrouwe Justitia.
27 February 2017
Paulien the Morree examines the position of political parties on the resilience scale.


23 March 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Researchers rely increasingly on citizens during their projects. What are the advantages and disadvantages of 'Citizen Science'?
29 March 2017 16:15 - 17:30
Prof. dr. Janneke Gerards will address "Fundamental rights under pressure. Protection of fundamental rights in a complex society" during her inaugural lecture.
30 March 2017 16:00 - 16:45
This month's IOS Lecture with Elaine Mak