Utrecht University Humanities Graduate Conference

Conference 2020 Theme

UPDATE: The conference has been CANCELLED due to the measurements taken by the Dutch government in relation with the CoVid-19 pandemic. In due time, we will announce the new dates.

For more info, contact hgsc@uu.nl.






Utrecht University Humanities Conference 2020 presents:

Humanities and their impact on society

Consequences for graduate research training

14/04/2020 – 16/04/2020

This year’s edition

The increasing importance of societal impact of academic research has consequences for our research training in the Humanities, in the Research Master’s programmes as well as in PhD training. In this context, it becomes increasingly important to train researchers in transferable skills, in order to prepare them optimally for research positions in and outside academia, and to support researchers to articulate the value of their research skills in a wide range of employment contexts. During the conference, leading academics will interact with early career researchers on various aspects of the theme. Early career researchers will be able to attend workshops on relevant skills in research training, including interdisciplinarity, career development, public engagement, the global aspects of research, intercultural communication and effective communicative skills. Finally, researchers are invited to interact with their international peers as well as with senior staff on their developing research plans in the Humanities.

About the conference

What is it?

An annual conference for Humanities research-oriented (R)MA students and PhDs both from Utrecht University and other (inter)national institutions.


14 April – 16 April 2020.


The conference will be held at Utrecht University, in the very centre of Utrecht, the Netherlands.

How to register? 

Registration is possible from March 16th onwards. The registration form will be made available on this page.

What is the aim of the conference?

The Utrecht University Humanities Graduate Conference is organised for and by (R)MA students and PhD candidates; our mission is to deepen and broaden the understanding of the role and position of the humanities field both within and outside of academia.


Over the past decade, all the different disciplines within the humanities have experienced the same pressure at some point. The pressure to justify their own existence. With the ongoing budget cuts and the explicit attacks to their epistemological function from political and societal actors, the humanities were asked to state their own value. ‘Why should research that provides only opinions rather than verifiable knowledge deserve our money’, they ask. Rather than answering those with an ignorance or animosity towards the study of culture and the human condition, we would like to rephrase the question, and ask those who have just started researching in that discipline: How are the humanities valuable for society?

With this conference, we would like to explore all the ways in which the humanities can contribute to science and society, as well as the meta questions on the necessity of value and valorization, and the (im)possibility of the evaluation of knowledge production.

Paradoxically, while the issue of knowledge utilization is a recurring concern, over 80 percent of R(MA) students and PhD candidates end up working in the industry, policy or public administration. This shouldn’t even surprise us since the abilities to produce knowledge – in the broadest sense of the word -, critically engage with it, and explain and frame the possibilities for utility and impact, are indispensable skills for humanities scholars. Inevitably, we’ll also touch upon the broader issue of the future of humanities research and its current state.

This conference invites contributions from research master students and PhD candidates from all the disciplines in the humanities, to analyze and reflect on the twinned issues of impact and knowledge utilization, be it within their own field of research or that of humanities research in general.