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COVID-19 research & education

In 2020 it seems like the whole world has come to a stand-still due to Coronavirus. The global spread and severity of the virus has enormous consequences for our society.

Not only now, but in the years to come issues like inequality, resilient governance, good care and social participation have grown and become more relevant due to corona. Worldwide, but also at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam we are committed to seeking solutions to deal with these issues. On this page, we would like to share some of the initiatives that are taking place at our faculty in relation to COVID-19. 

At a national level, we are making our knowledge available on the  SSH – COVID-19, platform, an expertise portal for social sciences and humanities in the Netherlands which aims to provide access to SSH expertise of Dutch universities through a public platform. The portal provides rapid and direct access to academic experts.

Social Sciences for Society
VU Amsterdam’s Faculty of Social Sciences is committed to ‘Social Sciences for Society’. In our activities in teaching, research and valorisation, we engage, work on, and are committed to finding, solutions to the challenging societal problems our world faces today.


  • 04-02-2021 COVID-19 RESEARCH: The relationship between gossiping and how contagious we think someone is

    People show little scepticism towards information received through gossip about another person that might be infected with the Coronavirus, despite the possibility that the information is not true. Also, the information received through gossip affects the extent to which this person is considered contagious. These are the results from a research at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Read more


    Fear for oneself predicts how people react to enforcing norms to stop the spread of COVID-19

    Fear for oneself is predictive of how important norms are and for enforcing them to stop the spread of COVID-19. These are the preliminary results from a research at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on how people perceive, communicate, and enforce the behavioural norms that are meant to slow the spread of the Coronavirus as implemented by governments. Read more

  • 04-12-2020 COVID-19 EDUCATION/RESEARCH: VR Classroom

    Communication Science students from the Media Psychology track are taking online education to a whole new level during the Coronavirus pandemic – a virtual level. In the course entitled ‘Problematic and Beneficial Effects of Media Use’, they attended their lectures in a virtual reality world, together with Professor Tilo Hartmann and postdoc Miguel Barreda. Read more

  • 27-10-2020 COVID-19 EDUCATION: Policy after the pandemic

    The Coronavirus crisis is putting us in an unprecedented situation that involves sudden and drastic changes. But what will the world look like after the dust has settled? That is difficult to predict, but at the same time policymakers need to make decisions around that unknown future after the pandemic. Sociology students developed various scenarios for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Ombudsman to help with this challenge. Watch the video here.

  • 28-09-2020 COVID-19 EDUCATION: A lecture at the goat farm

    Master’s students in Culture, Organization and Management (COM) noticed one very unusual location on their timetable: the Goat Farm in the Amsterdamse Bos. It gave the students a chance to leave behind their screens and get out of their rooms to attend this lecture out in the fresh air. Read more

  • 05-08-2020 COVID-19 RESEARCH: Loneliness

    The Coronavirus pandemic has transformed our society into one that is socially distanced. Researcher Theo van Tilburg has been investigating the impact of less frequent social contact, personal loss and the perceived all-round threat to well-being in society. Read more

  • 17-06-2020 COVID-19 DEBATE: A City Divided

    The Faculty of Social Sciences, in collaboration with Pakhuis de Zwijger, has created a seven-part series of debates, also known as a digital reflection space, called ‘Stad in Spagaat’, where scientists, administrators and professionals engage in a discussion about governance during times of crisis. “Now more than ever, it is important to look at which administrative decisions are being taken and what these could mean for the future,” said director of the Institute for Societal Resilience Joris Rijbroek and Professor of Social Change and Conflict Jacquelien van Stekelenburg. You can listen to the sessions here.

  • 04-06-2020 COVID-19 RESEARCH: Achievable society

    In periods of crisis, such as the coronavirus pandemic, it is better for governments not to claim that they have got or will get everything under control. This is according to public administrator and philosopher Robert van Putten. He demonstrates that administrators do not ensure that reality and policy are properly aligned. Read more

  • 03-06-2020 COVID-19 RESEARCH: Conspiracy theories

    People who support extreme left-wing or right-wing parties are more likely to believe that COVID-19 is all a conspiracy. This is the finding of research completed by political scientist André Krouwel and social psychologist Jan-Willem van Prooijen. Read more

  • 28-05-2020 COVID-19 RESEARCH: Impact on people

    In comparison to a previous study conducted in Rotterdam and nationwide into the impact of the Coronavirus on the population, anxiety and stress in particular have increased sharply in recent times, especially among younger people and people on lower incomes. Read more

  • 15-04-2020 COVID-19 RESEARCH: Philanthropy

    Charitable donations have never been higher in the Netherlands. The percentage of the population that takes part in voluntary work has also increased: 40 percent of Dutch people did voluntary work in 2018. According to researcher and Professor of Philanthropy René Bekkers, this is ‘a hopeful statistic in these times’. Read more

  • 14-04-2020 COVID-19 - AN EXPERT SPEAKS: World order

    Coronavirus has swept across the world. Borders are closing, trade is coming to a halt and citizens are being asked to stay at home as much as possible. It seems like it’s everyone for themselves. What is left of globalization? A united Europe? And shared goals such as tackling the climate crisis? We asked Associate Professor of International Relations Nana de Graaff. Read more

  • 25-03-2020 COVID-19 - AN EXPERT SPEAKS: Elderly people

    The radical government measures to stop the spread of Coronavirus – such as social distancing measures – mean that personal contact is very difficult these days. The internet and social media provide an alternative, but not all elderly people feel at home using social media. That leaves them more vulnerable. Theo van Tilburg, a sociologist at VU Amsterdam, advises: “Invest in the digital skills of older people today.” Read more

  • 23-03-2020 COVID-19 - AN EXPERT SPEAKS: Fake news

    Do I have Coronavirus? If you can hold your breath for ten seconds without coughing, you have the answer. The best medicine? The best way to avoid getting ill is to drink bleach or even better, a glass of fresh cow urine. Fake news is everywhere these days – but why? We asked Associate Professor of Communication Science Ivar Vermeulen, who is also a researcher at VU Amsterdam specializing in fake news. Read more

  • 19-03-2020 COVID-19 RESEARCH: Crisis management

    Kees Boersma is conducting research into a more effective approach to Coronavirus, as part of a European research team. Boersma argues that the approach to the Coronavirus pandemic should take account of how people respond and organize during the crisis. “Within crisis management, not much attention is paid to initiatives that citizens undertake themselves, such as a shopping service for elderly people in the neighbourhood.” Read more