Universiteit Leiden

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Jorrit Smit

PhD candidate

J.P. Smit MSc
+31 71 527 8066

Fields of interest

From the perspectives of history and philosophy of science I attempt to understand the complex interrelations between science and society. Most of my previous research focused on the history of chemistry. Lately, my interests broadened to policy studies and Science, Technology & Society (STS) to analyze valorisatie, or valorization: the explicit demand to all sciences and Dutch universities to become societally valuable.


Much debate about universities and science at present revolves around the concept of “valorization of scientific knowledge”. Governments use the concept to encourage universities, funding councils, and individual researchers to be more responsive to societal needs and taxpayer interests; university boards use it as a criterion in faculty reorganizations and hiring policies; and some protest groups use it to highlight the creeping commercialization of knowledge and of academic institutions to the detriment of intellectual freedom. This project examines the notion of valorization of scientific knowledge with particular reference to the Dutch case from the viewpoints of philosophy of science, history of science, and policy studies. It aims at answering questions including: what are the epistemological presuppositions of calls for scientific knowledge to have societal impact? How does the latest wave of Dutch valorization policies relate to previous conceptions of the social relevance of science? And what side effects and unintended consequences can we expect if we require scientific research to demonstrate societal value?

See also my recent blogpost on Shells & Pebbles, where I shortly introduce my research to a general audience.

Teaching activities

Seminar tutor at Honours bachelor course 'Humanities Lab 101'.

Curriculum vitae

Jorrit Smit is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Philosophy at Leiden University as of September 2015. The project 'Valorization of Scientific Knowledge: Philosophy, History and Policy' is funded by NWO as part of the 'Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen' program.

Jorrit majored in physical chemistry at the University of Amsterdam, as part of the interdisciplinary bachelor program Bèta-Gamma. After an additional year of philosophy study at KU Leuven, Belgium, he pursued the research master in 'History and Philosophy of Science' at Utrecht University. As part of this program he was a visiting student at UCLA and completed an internship on 'valorization' at the Rathenau Institute. In May 2015 he graduated with a thesis on the societal role of the physical chemist Ernst Cohen in early 20th century Netherlands.

Key publications

De Jong, S. P. L., Smit, J., & van Drooge, L. (2015) Scientists’ Perception of Societal Impact Policies: A Policy Paradox. Science and Public Policy, doi: 10.1093/scipol/scv023.

Smit, J. (2014). Nuclei in a Supersaturated Solution: Utrecht Chemists and the Crystallization of International Relations after the First World War. Studium: Tijdschrift voor Wetenschaps- en Universiteits-Geschiedenis, 7 (3), 190–208.

PhD candidate

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte

Work address

Reuvensplaats 3-4
2311 BE Leiden
Room number 2.05a



No relevant ancillary activities