Centre for Social Innovation

The Centre for Social Innovation forms part of the Faculty of Society and Law, and consists of a number of research groups that focus on the same areas in which the faculty trains professionals. The Centre for Social Innovation at HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht carries out applied research into current social issues in the field of social assistance and services, social policy, social work, social support, personnel and labour law, justice and security. The research centre focuses on developing knowledge that contributes to a participatory society and to professionalism - two themes that are closely linked. Its mission is to contribute to the social quality of society, by - for example - collecting and disseminating knowledge.

The Centre for Social Innovation works closely with universities and other knowledge institutes, umbrella organizations and governments. It is also a partner of www.socialevraagstukken.nl.

Applied research

An essential requirement for all our research is that demand for it comes from professional practice, or that the research is immediately recognized as relevant by professional practice. The results of the research conducted by the centre lead not only to the acquisition of scientific knowledge, but will also be applied in professional practice.

The research groups actively contribute their knowledge to partners in professional practice through lectures, seminars, presentations and workshops. A thorough grounding in professional practice is further guaranteed by the fact that research is always set up in close partnership with societal institutions and social organizations, and the professors are involved in the profession field in a range of different capacities. Representatives from professional practice also participate in the research and actively participate in the development of knowledge, making sure that this new knowledge is circulated.

Results for education

The professors, experts in their field, are the driving force behind the centre. They deploy their knowledge and experience to promote research and innovation within the professional field. The professors are supported by researchers, who typically combine this role with teaching activities. This combination leads to excellent connections between the research groups and the university’s degree programmes, facilitating the transfer of new knowledge from research to teaching.

HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht encourages its teachers to participate in their field and also to carry out doctoral research within it. Many students are also actively involved in conducting applied research. This is one reason why they will be excellently placed to play a role in professional practice. Around 100 researchers are active at the research centre and every year several hundred students participate in its research studies.

The research groups

The Centre for Social Innovation consists of various research groups. Each research group focuses on several research lines. These are themes or focal points in which one or more (doctoral) research studies are being carried out. The research groups in the Centre for Social Innovation are as follows:

  • Innovation of Social Work
    This research group investigates how social services can be accessed by clients with complex problems. The group also works on the question of how social professionals make moral judgements. The research group is sponsored by the Oranje Fonds.
  • Organising change in the public domain
    The concept of 'social innovation' is key to the work of this research group. This focuses on the renewal of organizations and work processes and the development of employees. Increases in productivity, developing talent and participation in the labour market constitute the core themes of this group.
  • Participation and Society
    This research group examines how social professionals can play a role in promoting civic participation in Dutch society. The research group covers all forms of participation: within neighbourhoods, schools, associations and society as a whole.
  • Participation Care and Support
    This research group develops knowledge and methods that social work professionals can use to support vulnerable citizens to participate in society.
  • Coordination of Security
    This research group aims to generate insight and knowledge in order to improve the way in which the Netherlands works towards making its society safer. The group works on research in the field of safety in society and on research at the interface between physical and societal security. Menno van Duin has been appointed to this research group as special professor. The group is supported by funding from Veiligheidsregio Utrecht.
  • Debt and Debt Collection
    The research group in Debt and Debt Collection works to achieve effective, efficient and working practices in debt settlement and debt collection.
  • Working with Mandated Clients
    This research group aims to serve the 20,000 professionals who work in correction and rehabilitation by developing methodologies and working on competencies and study programmes. This research group is sponsored by the Netherlands Probation Service, the Addiction Rehabilitation Foundation, and the Salvation Army Youth Care and Rehabilitation Division.

Research priority area

The Centre for Social Innovation is affiliated to the HU research priority area Neighbourhood Working and Learning.


Visiting address:
Daltonlaan 300
3584 BK Utrecht
The Netherlands
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 85397
3508 AJ Utrecht
The Netherlands
Telephone: +31 88 481 98 31
E-mail: ksi@hu.nl

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