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.


Weten wat Werkt
21 February 2018
In collaboration with the municipality of Utrecht, scientists from Utrecht University are starting a study into a better approach to welfare benefits.
13 February 2018
This book shows that 70 years of EU have taught us the difficulty of European solidarity and political unanimity. Co-edited by Liesbeth van de Grift.
31 January 2018
Lorena Sosa’s project aims to address violence against individuals who challenge traditional gender norms and expectations.


23 February 2018 19:00 - 21:30
This evening, the Center for the Humanities and the Utrecht Religion Forum raise the question which role religion plays in contemporary Dutch identity.
9 March 2018 15:30 - 18:00
Join the UGlobe event Green People, Green Judges!
12 March 2018 19:00 - 21:15
In Patience, Patience seven Muslim women go out to explore the world. Social scientist Dr Fenella Fleischmann on the challenges of emancipation.