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.


13 January 2017
In this book, Karin van Es develops a comprehensive understanding of liveness today, and clarifies the stakes surrounding the category of the ‘live’.
11 January 2017
Ingrid Hoofd (Media and performance) considers recent transformations in 21st century higher education across Europe and Asia.
20 December 2016
This is revealed by the Comprehensive Indicator of Well-being, an integrated measure that illuminates the development of broadly defined well-being.


19 January 2017 12:00 - 13:00
U.S.E. Internal Seminar with speaker: Stephanie Rosenkranz
25 January 2017 09:00 - 11:00
A special lecture with one of Britain’s leading economists John Kay about the Future of Finance and the Real Economy
27 - 24
Jan Nov
27 January 2017 15:30 - 24 November 2017 18:00
How are science and technology embedded in society and how do they change over time?