Online series 'Adapt!'

'Adapt! How to learn from crises'

A crisis such as the coronavirus crisis affects both society and individuals. A lack of hospital beds and care workers, an economic recession and production chains falling still. Then there is the personal suffering: people lose loved ones, jobs are at stake and fear and uncertainty prevail.

Despite all the misery, lessons can be learned and a crisis offers opportunities for change. ‘Never waste a good crisis’, as Winston Churchill once said. In his opinion, the United Nations owed its existence to the outbreak of the Second World War. Together with the debating platform Studium Generale, academics from the Security in Open Societies hub are presenting their vision of crises from the present and the past. How can we emerge from this crisis stronger than before?

In six diverse lectures, the researchers reflect on crises from the past and present. An overview of all the lectures and speakers be found below. The lectures are in Dutch, with English subtitles. 


'The dynamics of deep crises’ with Paul 't Hart

Soon after the coronavirus started spreading in the Netherlands, there was talk of ‘the coronavirus crisis’. But what actually makes a crisis a crisis? And what role do conflict, politics and leadership play in deep crises such as the coronavirus crisis? Public administration scholar Paul ’t Hart kicks off the digital lecture series Adapt! with an insight into the dynamics of deep crises..

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'Resilient handling of unprecedented dangers’ with Arjen Boin

‘Sailing by sight’. This is how Prime Minister Rutte described the Dutch approach to the coronavirus at one of his press conferences. We are looking ahead, but not too far, and have no idea where this adventure will end. His description reveals a crucial question: how do you actually tackle a crisis in times of great uncertainty? Prof. Arjen Boin (University of Leiden) explains how politicians and experts deal with this. 

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‘How people deal with alarming circumstances’ with Kees van den Bos

From concentration problems to stress, research shows that many people are experiencing significant psychological consequences as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Social psychology professor Kees van den Bos explains why and what we can do about it.

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‘Pandemics can be tamed’ with Beatrice de Graaf

How did pandemics develop throughout history? What impact did these crises have on our common security? And which lessons can we draw from the ‘Outbreak Management Teams’ of the past? In the fourth lecture in this series, historian Beatrice de Graaf provides a historical perspective on pandemics. In particular, she discusses the impact of crises – such as pandemics – on international relations and the obstacles that still stand in the way of preventing a future pandemic of this scale.

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'National identity in times of crisis’ with Lotte Jensen

In just a short period, we have had to accept the ‘new normal’: no more physical contact, staying at home a lot and keeping 1.5 metres away from other people at all times. When the coronavirus flooded the ICUs and thousands of people died, we spoke words of encouragement to each other. We clapped for carers and put teddy bears in our windows. ‘Utrecht zorg goed voor elkaar’ (‘Utrecht, take good care of each other’) is on posters all over the city. Disasters not only have a destructive effect, but also create a sense of solidarity. Philosopher and Dutch scholar Lotte Jensen (Radboud University) demonstrates this based on a number of examples from history. How does a crisis shape the national identity?

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‘How a crisis can strengthen democracy’ with Scott Douglas

Although a crisis causes many political tensions, it can also lead to a more transparent, fairer and even healthier democratic society. Slow bureaucratic processes are sped up, people start working together and diverging interests are set aside. Public administration scholar Scott Douglas investigates the positive impact of crises on democracy. In his opinion, emergency situations can also lead to a better society.  

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About Security in Open Societies 

The types of threats facing society are changing on a large scale. Liberal democracies need new security measures and philosophies in order to respond adequately to these threats. In this respect, Western democracies are confronted with a paradox. The political impetus is to build a stronger national security state.

However, this conflicts with the reality that national governments have a reduced capacity to actually provide security. In our modern world, how do we strike a balance between security concerns on the one hand and privacy concerns on the other? Security for Open Societies (SOS) offers an independent, interdisciplinary platform where science, professional bodies and society can meet to discuss issues such as security, terrorism and the rule of law.