Opening Academic Year with Diederik Samsom and Liesbeth van de Grift

Bringing Politics Back In(to) … Environmental Studies

Opening Academic Year Research School Political History

(Amsterdam 24 September 2021 – live event) 



Keynote by Diederik Samsom (head of cabinet EU commissioner Frans Timmermans)

Introduced by / thematic introduction by historians prof. Liesbeth vd Grift and prof. Wim van Meurs

We warmly invite you for the inaugural session of the national Research School Political History, which also marks the tenth anniversary of the School. After a long period of digital meetings, we are finally able to meet in person again. Therefore this afternoon provides ample opportunities for political historians to meet each other and to welcome new research master students and PhD candidates. As always during our opening sessions, we discuss a specific theme relevant to our field. This year, the focus is on the booming multidisciplinary field of environmental studies.


Environmental history accolades widely different perspectives, ranging from the history of environmental degradation to new social movements or biographies of conservationists. Thus far, political historians have played only a minor role in this expanding field of study as compared with cultural historians, historians of science and technology and global historians. This is striking given that the environment offers a lens to study topics of core concern to political historians, such as democracy, legitimacy and social movements.


In 2021, the Research School of Political History will seek to change this by devoting its inaugural session to the theme of environmental history and by organizing a summer school on the Politics of the Environment. The opening of the academic year will raise the question of the added value of (political) history to environmental studies. First, it will discuss how environmental studies tie in with core concerns of political historians: democracy, legitimacy, policy-making and interest representation, including those beyond the polity, such as “future generations.” Second, it will explore the tension between environmental activism and academic (historical) studies.


We are delighted to announce that Diederik Samsom features as our keynote speaker. Diederik Samsom, a former activist and politician is currently the head of Cabinet of Frans Timmermans.  Liesbeth van de Grift, who has recently been appointed as professor of International History and the Environment, will introduce him and chair the session.


The opening of the academic year will end with a welcome our new academic director Jacco Pekelder and our new director of studies Carla Hoetink, who succeed Ido de Haan and Dirk Jan Wolffram, followed by drinks.



Date: 24 September 2021, 15.00 – 18.00 hrs.

Location: KNAW Trippenhuis, Kloveniersburgwal 29, Amsterdam.

Information and pre-registration via on the basis of first come, first serve.

Corona rules of the KNAW should be respected which includes access with the CoronaCheck-app.


Amsterdam, 25 August 2021