Centre for Social Innovation

This research centre focuses on issues relating to the urban environment and social inclusion. The centre is a partnership between professors who are active in a range of fields, from healthcare and security to education, and from sports and culture to labour, journalism and law. The themes in which the research group is active include the increasing number of people with psychological issues who are living on the streets, matters relating to public education, the growing debt problem, support for young people, radicalization, security, volunteer work, processes of decentralization, and neighbourhood teams and citizens' initiatives that aim to play a role.

The research centre aims to contribute to a city in which all citizens can participate fully, a safe and secure city where (social) rights are accorded an appropriate place, and a municipal framework which derives its legitimacy from democratic processes and networking. A city which, in short, is characterized by a human-centred and inclusive approach.

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

Research with a practical focus

An essential prerequisite for all the centre’s research work is that there is demand in the field or that the field of professional practice recognizes the relevance of the work. The results of the research carried out by the research centre therefore not only generate scientific knowledge, but are also applied in professional practice.

The research groups actively circulate their knowledge among partners in professional practice by means of lectures, seminars, presentations and workshops. The link to professional practice is further assured by the fact that research is always designed in close cooperation with civil society organizations and societal organizations, and professors are involved in professional practice in various ways. Representatives from professional practice participate in the centre’s research and make an active contribution 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 usually combine their research work with teaching duties. This combination leads to strong links between the research groups and programmes and to the transfer of new knowledge from research into education. 

HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht encourages its teaching staff members 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 to 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 research groups

The Research Centre for Social Innovation is made up of various research groups. Each research group has several research lines. These are areas or themes in which one or more (doctoral) research studies are being carried out. The research groups of the Research Centre for Social Innovation are the following:

  • 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. 
  • Organizing Change in the Public Domain
    This research group focuses on the concept of ‘social innovation’. It examines the innovation process and work processes within organizations, as well as the theme of employee development. Changes in the processes of public organizations, the development of talent and labour market participation are its key themes.
  • Participation and Urban Development
    This research group aims to promote social participation and social urban development by carrying out 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. 
  • Knowledge Analysis in Relation to a Safer Society
    The broad aim of this research group is to generate knowledge and insights that can be used 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • Working in Correction and Rehabilitation
    This research group works on applied research and develops education with the aim of supporting university of applied sciences graduates who work in the field of correction and rehabilitation, and improving the coherence of their involvement. The research group is sponsored by Reclassering Nederland (Netherlands Probation Service), Stichting Verslavingsreclassering GGZ (Addiction Rehabilitation and Mental Health Foundation), and the Salvation Army’s Department of Young People and Probation.
  • Young People
    The research group for Young People focuses on developing, communicating and applying knowledge in the field of promoting a healthy upbringing and development environment for children and young people. 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. 
  • 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.


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