Institutions for Open Societies

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.


20 February 2017
Barabra Oomen is awarded a Vici-grant from NWO for research on the relationship between local authorities and international human rights.
Bronislaw Geremek
17 February 2017
The evening was attended by members of the Polish embassy and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of course students and employees of Utrecht University.
17 February 2017
In this article, Gijs Jan Brandsma notes how political parties conveniently use Europe for domestic purposes.


1 - 13
Jan Mar
1 January 2017 - 13 March 2017
WINIR 2017 Call for papers now open: submit your abstract before March 13.
28 February 2017 20:00 - 21:30
Economic historian prof. Jan Luiten van Zanden explores whether we can find alternatives to the dogma of economic growth. Is sustainable growth an alternative?
2 March 2017 16:00 - 16:45
This month IOS Lecture with Kees van den Bos with focus on the possible usage of psychology in law