Every two months, Erasmus Magazine goes ’embedded’ at a faculty, department or institute of Erasmus University. This week, the board of EM will be working from the ‘fishbowl’ of ISS, the International Institute for Social Studies in The Hague, a very special part of this university.

1. No, not the space station or the cleaning company

ISS is short for International Institute of Social Studies. It is one of the international research institutes set up in the Netherlands after the Second World War to gain knowledge and share expertise about the development of (so-called) Third World countries. Its sister institutes include the IHE Delft Institute for Water Education, the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation in Twente and the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies, which is also affiliated with EUR.

2. Erasmus by the Sea

ISS officially joined Erasmus University Rotterdam as a faculty in 2009. The two have also coordinated their support services and facilities, which means that as an EUR staff member, you are free to study or work on ISS’s premises. So if you’re ever in The Hague for the day, why not drop by: ISS has eduroam, coffee and more than enough room (provided everyone doesn’t visit at the same time). And at the end of a day’s work, you can hit the beach in no time!

3. Open to Rotterdam students too

EUR students are also welcome to do a minor at ISS. This year some 20 ‘Rotterdammers’ enrolled in the ‘Global Poverty, Local Solutions’ minor, which includes guest lectures by former government minister Jan Pronk.

ISS is also working on the development of a new master programme for regular EUR students. The existing ISS master is geared toward students from developing countries who are already professionally employed and have moved to The Hague for 18 months. The tuition for this master programme is rather steep, which makes it less accessible for regular EUR students. This ‘master in the making’ – Law, Society & Development – was recently submitted to the accreditation authority for evaluation.

4. No research without impact

While EUR is still giving concrete shape to the valorisation of academic research (i.e. translating research findings into products that make a concrete contribution to society), this has been daily business at ISS since several years. Research projects should not only result in a publication in an academic journal, but are also shared in a format that can immediately be accessed and understood by policy-makers, politicians and aid workers worldwide. This can take the shape of a policy memorandum, a concrete product or the sharing of information via social media.

5. ISS gives us a ‘special relationship’ with the royal family

ISS started its activities in 1952, working from a wing of Noordeinde Palace – the working quarters of then-queen Juliana. ISS only moved out of these royal premises some 25 years later. And the ‘Oranjes’ and ISS still have a very friendly relationship. For example, the Hague institute shares the Prince Claus Chair with Utrecht University and HRH Máxima visits ISS every once in a while as the patroness of this endowed chair.

Facts and figures

65 years

The International Institute of Social Studies was founded in 1952 and is celebrating its 65th anniversary this year.


ISS has been a part of Erasmus University Rotterdam since 2009, and is affiliated with EUR as a special institute.


Within ISS, the dean – the director of a faculty’s academic staff – is called the Rector. This position is presently held by Professor Inge Hutter.


ISS has awarded over 150 doctorates since its first PhD student graduated in 1986.


ISS has over 12,500 alumni in more than 100 countries.


Some 170 students are currently pursuing a master degree at ISS. The average age of the ISS student body is 28. Most of the students live in student housing behind the ISS location, situated between The Hague’s historic centre and Scheveningen.