Our society appears to be under increasing pressure, in a geopolitical sense as well as an economic and sociocultural one. The influence of the media and the ever increasing pace of information provision are important in this respect. Social media played a major role in the Arab Spring, when Arab peoples rose up en masse against their leaders and made a stand for democracy. What would have happened if the demonstrators had not had access to modern means of communication? Would the uprising have spread so quickly?



At an international level we are seeing increasing tensions, and clashes of religion and culture. There are also conflicts due to the rapid growth in prosperity in developing countries. A new balance of power is emerging in the Netherlands. Traditional political parties are losing ground. What developments are involved in this? How does a changing cultural identify fit within this context?


Globalisation increases the mobility of people and goods, and contact between people the world over, but also brings concepts of identity up for discussion. Technological developments make new models of society and different forms of involvement and participation possible, but also create a feeling of alienation. Social cohesion no longer exists as a matter of course. New understanding and solutions are needed to encourage active citizenship and to foster trust. In developing countries, economic growth is often moving at a faster pace than democratisation. What role will culture, politics and religion play there in the near future?

Scientific research

Scientific research is needed to face up to these societal and cultural challenges. First, critical reflection is needed on these developments, followed by a thorough analysis and an interpretation from different perspectives. A historical perspective is essential. How did societies develop in the past, and what parallels can we see with today? What role has religion played over the centuries? And does sport really bring people together?