About IOS

At Utrecht University, scholars from various disciplines join forces in Utrecht’s area of expertise Institutions for Open Societies (IOS). Scholars at IOS aim at using an interdisciplinary approach to tackle two vital societal questions: Why do societies develop so divergently? And how do institutions contribute to the formation of open and sustainable societies?

To find answers to these questions, interdisciplinary research is conducted into the formal and informal rules of human interaction: institutions. These institutions, such as laws, customs, and the associated organisations and networks, enable or constrain the realisation of open, democratic and equitable societies. They also determine societies’ ability to absorb shocks and generate sustainable prosperity.

Utrecht University and interdisciplinary research

At IOS, more than 400 scholars from various fields such as economics, history, public administration, culture, law, sociology, social psychology, language and communication, ethics, innovation studies, and geography join forces to contribute to the development of open and resilient societies around the globe. 

This is of great importance in order to respect human rights, as well as for a society’s ability to absorb shocks and to generate sustainable prosperity.

Area of expertise

Institutions for Open Societies is one of the four areas of expertise (strategic themes research) of Utrecht University.