Governance for Society

Our theme for the 2019-2020 academic year

In 2019-2020, the theme of Governance for Society will be central to Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s education and research activities, and specifically the key question of how to enhance the resilience of democracy through democratic leadership. In these times of polarization, machine learning, Brexit, mass migration and climate change, is our democracy resilient enough?

We are currently witnessing growing social tensions and inequality, and it seems clear that we need a new kind of leadership. We need leaders who are able to strike the right balance between creating societal support and taking initiative, between listening to citizens and turning their stories into the right kinds of action. Action that contributes to the resilience and responsiveness of people and organizations. 

And of course, this is true not only of the political sphere but also in other areas of society where participation, responsibility, tolerance and leadership are democratically organized. 

Governance for Society relates to organizational structures. It includes governments, businesses, international organizations and others. At VU Amsterdam, organizational scientists, philosophers, sociologists, economists, legal scholars, theologians and psychologists are all looking at the question of how we can help to build a better society by changing the ways in which we organize our society.

VU Amsterdam teaches various Bachelor's programmes that relate to the theme of Governance for Society.

Core research themes for Governance for Society include:

  • The quality of democracy, the rule of law and standards of integrity
  • Hyper diversity and tolerance
  • Poverty and equality
  • Leadership and responsibility
  • Security and international cooperation

Which research institutes are involved with Governance for Society?


VU Amsterdam scientists who are working on these themes:

The quality of democracy, the rule of law and standards of integrity:
Ben Crum, Leo Huberts, Wouter Veraart, Martin van Hees, Catherine de Vries, Ronald Kroeze, Peer Smets, Kees Boersma

Hyper diversity and tolerance:
Halleh Ghorashi, Maurice Crul, Thomas Spijkerboer, Tijl Sunier, Karen van Oudenhoven, Annemie Halsema, Susan Legene, Betty de Hart, Petra Verdonk , Sawitri Saharso, Marina de Regt

Poverty and equality:
Bas van der Klaauw, Dimitris Pavlopoulos, Rene Bekkers, Willem Trommel, Xander Koolman, Ab Klink, Melanie Ehren

Leadership and responsibility:
Marc van Vugt, Paul van Lange, Marc Schuilenburg, Gerda van Dijk, Leo Huberts, Ronald van Steden, Patrick Overeem, Lodewijk Smeehuijzen

Security and international cooperation(also VU/IOVIS en VU/VICES):
Wolfgang Wagner, Wouter Werner, Tanja Aalberts, Ronald van Steden

Over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, the Governance for Society theme will be the focus of events at the university, including: