Research Centre for Social Innovation

The Research Centre for Social Innovation is a partnership between ten research groups whose practically-oriented research, development and promotion of current social issues contribute to an inclusive, fair and safe society. We work together in this with educational institutes, the field of professional practice, other research institutes, universities, umbrella organizations and government bodies. It is also a partner of and

The actions of professionals in the social domain are key in our research, as are (social) developments which influence these actions, such as the increasing diversity in society, technological developments and the changing role of the government. Themes which we address include matters relating to education and society, the growing debt problem, support for young people, radicalisation, security, the use of volunteers, decentralisation processes and citizens’ initiatives and district teams which are seeking a role.

Research with a practical focus
An essential prerequisite for all our research is that there is demand in the field or that the field of professional practice recognises the relevance of the work. The results of the research performed by the research centre therefore not only generate scientific knowledge, but are also applied in professional practice.
The research groups actively share their knowledge with partners in professional practice through lectures, seminars, presentations and workshops. The link to professional practice is further assured by the fact that research is always planned in close cooperation with civil society institutions and societal organisations, and professors are involved in professional practice in various ways. Representatives from professional practice participate in the research and actively contribute to developing knowledge, ensuring that new knowledge is circulated.

Results for teaching and education
Professors are experts in their field and are the driving force behind the research centre. They apply their knowledge and experience through research and innovation within the professional field. The professors are supported by researchers, who generally combine their research work with teaching duties. This combination produces strong links between the research groups and programmes and ensures the transfer of new knowledge from research into education. 

HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht encourages its teaching staff to participate in research in their specialist field and to pursue doctoral research within it. Many students are also actively involved in conducting applied research. This helps ensure that they are excellently placed to enter professional practice. Around one hundred researchers are active at the research centre, and several hundred students participate in research studies every year.

The activities of the research groups are relevant for the programmes of ten institutes: Institute for Social Work; Labour and Organisation; Sign Language, Language and Deaf studies; Law; Security; Ecological Pedagogics; Theo Thijssen, the Seminary for Remedial Education, Nursing and Institute Archimedes.

The research groups
The Research Centre for Social Innovation consists of different research groups with various research lines. These are areas or themes in which one or more (doctoral) research studies are performed. The research groups of the Research Centre for Social Innovation are:

  • Access to Justice
    This research group focuses on legal and social science research involving social issues relating to (new forms of) access to justice and the law. 
  • Deaf Studies
    By conducting research into deaf culture, Dutch Sign Language (didactics) and interpreting, this research group aims to generate and disseminate knowledge within the university, the deaf community and the associated field of professional practice.
  • Debt and Debt Collection
    The Research Group for Debt and Debt Collection aims to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of professional practice in the field of debt relief and debt collection, both preventive and curative.  
  • Innovative Social Services
    This research group looks at how social services can reach clients with complex problems. It also works on how social professionals form moral judgments. 
  • Knowledge analysis societal security
    The broad aim of this research group is to generate knowledge and insights to improve working methods in the field of security, so that the Netherlands can become a safer society. The research group focuses predominantly on the use of data-driven methods.
  • Organizing Change in the Public Domain
    This research group focuses on the concept of ‘social innovation’. It examines innovation and work processes within organisations, as well as the theme of employee development. Changes in the processes of public organisations, talent development and labour market participation are its key themes.
  • Participation and Urban Development
    This research group aims to promote social participation and social urban development through practically-oriented research. The focus is on the social impact of sport and exercise, art and creativity and (the development of) sustainable communities.
  • Participation Care and Support
    This research group develops knowledge and methods which can be used by social work professionals to help vulnerable citizens participate in society. 
  • Working in Correction and Rehabilitation
    This research group conducts applied research and develops education aimed at supporting university of applied sciences graduates working in the field of correction and rehabilitation, and improving the coherence of their involvement. The research group is sponsored by the Netherlands Probation Service, Stichting Verslavingsreclassering GGZ (Addiction Rehabilitation and Mental Health Foundation), and the Salvation Army’s Department of Young People and Probation.
  • Youth
    The research group Youth focuses on developing, communicating and applying knowledge relating to promoting a healthy upbringing and development environment for children and youth. A specific objective is to strengthen the quality of local youth support services in the six youth regions of Utrecht. The research group is currently being co-financed by the Province of Utrecht and will continue to be until 1 January 2020.