Prof. dr. Femke van Esch is Professor of European Governance and Leadership of the European Union at the Utrecht University School of Governance (USG). She holds an expertise in leadership, European (economic and monetary) integration and the method of comparative cognitive mapping (CCM). In her PhD-thesis she studied the role of leaders' beliefs in the establishment of the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), which was characterised by EU-scholar Desmond Dinan as 'superior in every respect'.


In her research, Van Esch studies the European response to European crises and the legitimacy of EU leadership focusing in particular on the role of leaders' beliefs, national culture and the political psychological dimension of legitimacy. She was workpackage leader and part of the management board of the Transcrisis Project funded by the EU Horizon2020 scheme. The project focused on the topic of enhancing the EU's transboundary crisis management capacities and multi-level leadership (see here) In addition, she initiated several projects geared towards the application and further development (automation) of cognitive mapping as a research method to study both the policy ideas of political elite and the views of European citizens about the European Union. For this project she received grants from the Netherlands E-Science Centre, the UU knowledge centre Institutions of the Open Society and the focus-area Applied Data Science.


Femke is the coordinator of the interdisciplinary, double-degree LEG Faculty Master European Governance that is offered in collaboration with the Masaryk University Brno, University of Konstanz and University College Dublin. Over the years, Van Esch has taught numerous courses in European governance, leadership, international relations, political science, public administration and qualitative research and has won the USG Best Young Teacher’s Award twice. She is a member of the LEG Faculty Council, part of the Board of Academic Studies and was president of the USG Curriculum Committee.


In addition to her academic work, Femke frequently engages in public and policy debates on leadership and European Governance by writing blog and media appearances. From 2011-2019 Femke was a member of the Commission European Integration of the Advisory Council of International Affairs which advises the Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs, and the Minister of Defence (