Social professionals work in a complex and challenging professional practice. The Research group Living and Wellbeing contributes to the answers to important issues and dilemmas in the social domain, such as the impact of increasing diversity on professional practice and education, or the ethical dimension of social work and (youth) care and mixed housing.

Lines of research within the research group

Social professionals, like social workers, regularly have to deal with vulnerable clients who are burdened with a complex set of problems. Some examples of this are families in multi-problem situations, teenage pregnancies, (former) homeless people, the elderly, those who avoid care and people living in poverty. 

We work to map the needs and social networks of such vulnerable clients and then search for the most appropriate method of reaching out to them and offering help. In this way, we strive to strengthen the professional assistance and services provided to this group.


  • Healthy Ageing Support by Internet and the Community - HASIC

Social work cannot function without an understanding of the ethics involved. Unfortunately, market forces and bureaucracy put pressure on professionals to achieve results, leaving little time and attention for ethical considerations. The objective of this line of research is to place ethics in the social domain firmly on the agenda.

We assist professionals and organisations in reflecting on their actions and to be more aware of their values and judgements. We achieve this by developing knowledge and methods that support them in this process.

On the, social professionals can find tools and teaching activities aimed at training reflection and moral decision-making.

This line of research focuses on four themes:

  • The core values of social work;
  • The knowledge on which social work degree programmes are based;
  • Handling complexity;
  • Inter- and trans-sectoral learning processes and procedures.

These themes are developed in co-creation with partners in research, education and professional practice. Our research contributes to professional practice, vocational education and science.

Social work needs to redefine its position in a society that is becoming increasingly diverse. This applies to both professional practice and education.

In this line of research, we focus on the educational organisation and professional practice at the HU. Our focus is on the question of what students from social degree programmes require as a prospective social workers who will be dealing with the increasing diversity in society. How can they, as an occupational group, help to bridge differences and improve quality of life?




Our research team regularly cooperates with teachers from the Institute for Social Work, the Institute for Nursing Studies, the HU-wide ethics teachers department, as well as other research groups and institutes.

Mixed Housing meeting with researchers Maarten Davelaar | Researcher

“Mixed housing contributes to the participation of people with social, psychological and addiction problems, and it reduces their loneliness. Vulnerable residents feel they are seen and accepted”

Maarten Davelaar Researcher


We work together with a wide range of collaborative partners from professional practice, science and education. These include: Armoedecoalitie Utrecht,Dock, De Tussenvoorziening, Kennisplatform Utrecht Sociaal, Platform 31, Woningcorporatie Portaal and Sherpa.

Logo armoede coalitie
Kennisplatform Utrecht Sociaal

Our professors and researchers

Lia van Doorn | Professor | Research group Innovative Social Services

Lia van Doorn

Professor Living and Wellbeing Show profile
Maarten Davelaar | Researcher | Innovative Social Services

Maarten Davelaar

Researcher Living and Wellbeing Show profile
Lizet van Donkersgoed | Lecturer / Researcher | Innovative Social Services

Lizet van Donkersgoed

Teacher-researcher Living and Wellbeing Show profile
Aly Gruppen | Lecturer-researcher | Innovative Social Services

Aly Gruppen

Teacher-researcher Living and Wellbeing Show profile

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