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.


16 March 2018
Koen Leurs and Alison Harvey have co-edited a special issue with a selection of works presented at the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference.
12 March 2018
An expert group with Professor Madeleine de Cock Buning advises politicians, schools and the media in a European report on disinformation.
Linda Senden, hoogleraar Europees Recht.
8 March 2018
Countries with tough rules on the number of women at the top are more successful, says Linda Senden, professor of European Law and gender equality expert.


23 March 2018 15:00 - 17:00
During the annual Article 1 lecture at Utrecht University, four speakers will examine different aspects of historical inequality.
10 April 2018 12:45 - 14:00
Marleen van Uchelen-Schipper (Law departement) defends her dissertation.
11 April 2018 09:15 - 18:00
This one-day congress on public procurement law will be headed by prof. mr. Elisabetta Manunza en prof. mr. Chris Jansen (VU).