Societal resilience is an emerging paradigm. It refers to responses and strategies at the level of individuals, groups, organizations and societies that are dealing with complex societal problems. At the same time, these responses contribute to innovative solutions that make society more resilient to current and future challenges. Societal resilience is conceptually relatively undefined. This ambiguity is often seen as problematic, as too open to be used for scholarly work. Resilience is then easily dismissed as being a buzzword. Instead, we argue that societal resilience is an important social concept particularly because of its openness.

The complexity of society, the wicked problems that form the challenges to be solved, require an open concept. This complexity also requires research methodologies that are open, engaged, and which involve many actual stakeholders. The engaged scholarship approach as used at the Institute for Societal Resilience (ISR) is an answer to this need. Collaborating with societal stakeholders allows us not only to co-generate knowledge with relevance tested in action, but also to stimulate a comprehensive and critical research approach. Therefore, we believe the current openness of ‘societal resilience’ is not necessarily an undesirable theoretical ‘gap’. It enables us to have plural perspectives based on the complex realities on the ground.

Joris Rijbroek – Director, Institute for Societal Resilience
Joris Rijbroek – Director, Institute for Societal Resilience

The ISR can be found on the campus of the Vrije Universiteit and is situated on the Amsterdam Zuidas, which is known as one of the most dynamic and fast-growing business districts of the Netherlands. Our visiting and postal address can be found below.



Institute of Societal Resilience
Faculty of Social Sciences
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Telephone: +31 (0)20 5982285