“It’s technology married with humanities that yields us the result that makes our heart sing” (Steve Jobs)
Huygens ING wants to provide new insights into long-term developments within Dutch society based on fundamental, advanced and interdisciplinary research. Seen from a European perspective, the often different Dutch developments offer many points of reference for insightful historical comparisons.
To this end, we have chosen for a specific approach that is to a large extent focused on sources, but is at the same time methodologically experimental and innovative. And we do not want to allow ourselves to be restricted by the method and perspectives of just one discipline. The three keywords referred to above are the main components of the research approach adopted by Huygens ING. New knowledge about the past, as long as we did not witness past events ourselves, ultimately always comes from research into the primary sources (fundamental). The application of new methods in performing this research leads to new discoveries, greater efficiency and better substantiation (advanced). And the use of a broad spectrum of expertise (interdisciplinary) ensures insights into previously unobserved connections. We are studying the development of the Dutch economy, culture, knowledge production, politics and language from the Early Middle Ages to the present in interrelation.
Just as importantly, Huygens ING wants to play a leading role in innovations in the Dutch humanities. There is a need for this: technological developments require corresponding methodological innovations in the humanities, while at the same time the field is facing the challenge of maximising its social impact. The Institute wants to provide an environment for the incubation of new developments at the interface of the humanities and computer science. The focus in this is on questions involving the humanities. Such questions add just as much impetus to information technology as would be the case if the focus were reversed.
Partnerships and economies of scale are necessary for this to be achieved. Huygens ING is very interested in partnerships with the computer science departments of universities, with the IT sector and the creative industry and especially with the KNAW institutes with the prospect of establishing a joint Humanities Centre within the KNAW. The Institute wants to exercise as great a power of attraction as possible on young, talented and ambitious researchers; it aims to be a creative melting pot in which knowledge and unorthodox ideas from different disciplines are brought together. The Humanities Centre can play a major role in this aim.
Huygens ING is striving not only to achieve good research results, but also to be socially useful. We are here for, and work with, fellow researchers, the education sector, the business community, the media, the heritage sector and everyone who has a need for new and reliable knowledge about Dutch culture and history. Such knowledge promotes participatory citizenship and identity awareness and contributes to a stable and “intelligent” society.
The works produced by Huygens ING take many forms, including: traditional articles for journals and monographs, and digital editions, websites, databases, tools, serious games and telephone apps. We also aim to be experimental and innovative in terms of dissemination. We are well aware that digital products require a solid, low-maintenance and sustainable digital infrastructure that is seamlessly aligned with national and international infrastructures.
What particularly distinguishes a KNAW research institute like Huygens ING from universities is its pure focus on research, in an environment with as little bureaucracy as possible, with the flexibility and short lines that make it possible to respond with lightening speed to new developments. The physical clustering of researchers with diverse expertise that is rare elsewhere, stimulates a constant, informal exchange of ideas so that new ideas can be implemented quickly. The capacity to construct and maintain a digital infrastructure for the long term also sets the Institute apart. The KNAW is aware that it has a role to play in this respect and Huygens ING wants its own role to be an instrumental one.