Universiteit Leiden

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Jorrit Smit

PhD candidate

J.P. Smit MSc
+31 71 527 8066

Fields of interest

With insights and methods from the historical, philosophical, and social studies of science I attempt to understand complex situation of science in 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?

Teaching activities

General introductory course ‘Philosophy of Science’, from logical empiricism and Popper to Kuhn and social studies of science.

Advanced bachelor seminar ‘The Politics of Knowledge’, combining theoretical perspectives on knowledge and power (a.o. Foucault, Latour, Haraway) with specific case studies (a.o. climate change, HIV/AIDS, race and genetics). Check out the weblog (in Dutch) that the students put together during the course: https://politiekvankennis.weblog.leidenuniv.nl/

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. He has a background in physical chemistry, interdisciplinary studies, philosophy, and history of science. Jorrit studied at University of Amsterdam, KU Leuven, and Utrecht University, and was a visiting student at the History department of UCLA (2013) and the STS department at UCL (2017).

Key publications

Smit, J.P. (2018) “The politics of interwar chemistry. Neutrality and nationalism in the rhetoric and actions of internationalist chemists.” In: Ninhos, C. & Clara, F. (eds.) Closing the door on Globalization: Cultural Nationalism and Scientific Internationalism in the 19th and 20th Centuries (Routledge Studies in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine). London: Routledge, pp.7-29.

Jong, S.P.L. de, Smit, J.P. & Drooge, L. van (2016). “Scientists’ response to societal impact policies: A policy paradox.” Science and public policy, 43(1), 102-114. https://doi.org/10.1093/scipol/scv023

Smit, J.P. (2016) “Geen waardevrij bolwerk van de vrijheid meer: De ‘identiteitscrisis’ van de Universiteit Leiden in de jaren 1970.” In: Dorsman, L.J. & Knegtmans, P.J. (eds.) Universiteit & Identiteit: Over samenwerking, concurrentie en taakverdeling tussen de Nederlandse universiteiten. Hilversum: Uitgeverij Verloren, pp. 47-70.

Tags: History of Science, Philosophy of Science, Valorization/Valorisatie, Policy

PhD candidate

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte

Work address

P.J. Veth Building
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden
Room number 2.02



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