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Power of the city: practice-oriented research for an inclusive and sustainable city

The research and expertise center Power of the City focuses on issues related to the promotion of social, ecological, or economic sustainability in the city. Through our interdisciplinary and practice-oriented research, we aim to contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and a better tomorrow for everyone living, working, or playing in the city. To achieve this, we are eager to collaborate with the practitioners, fellow researchers, and academic institutions.

Power of the City has extensive experience in evaluation research, methodology develepment, and capturing less-heard voices through qualitative, quantitative, and artistic research methods. Our team currently works on topics such as 'access to healthy food', 'citizen participation in urban planning', 'elderly-friendly municipalities', 'livability indicators and real estate prices', 'art in healthcare' and 'the accessibility of social services in digital times'.

Feel free ro contact us for more information, collaboration, workshops, of a friendly chat.

Expertise and projects concerning impact evaluation and impact-oriented work

As a research group, Power of the City has expertise in evaluation research, methodology development, impact studies, and impact training, primarily focusing on the social sector, youth sector, and public authorities. We adopt a theory-driven approach, wherein we not only examine data related to realized outputs and outcomes but also strive to elucidate and test the underlying program theory - how and why an intervention would lead to specific outcomes. In this way, we pay sufficient attention to relevant contextual factors and the perspectives of various stakeholders, influencing the effectiveness of a social intervention.


  • For example, we collaborate with the city of Antwerp on various impact evaluations concerning different operations of the city.
  • In the case of our partner Sint-Niklaas, we support the welfare cluster of the municipality in building expertise in impact-oriented work and social impact evaluations.
  • Together with the Department of Work and Social Economy of the Flemish government, we address the question of whether employment in social economy leads to a sustainable reduction in the poverty risk for target group employees.
  • Additionally, our applied research on 'collective impact' aims to develop a framework and tailored support offering for the social sector. This approach takes into account the complexity of social problems, the unpredictability of social interventions, and values the various knowledge sources and expertise. We explicitly focus on so-called 'eco-system interventions,' which involve diverse actors collaborating and 'orchestrating' their actions to collectively address complex problems.

Notable projects


Improving housing Conditions for CAptive Residents in Ghent

ICCARus has the aim to renovate 100 houses off captive residents. Before, during & after the renovation process, captive residents will be unburdened and supported technically, financially,administrative and socially. ICCARus will use an innovative financial instrument to make these renovations possible.

Age-friendly cities

With this research we want to gain a better and broader view of the experiences and needs of the elderly within Hoboken and Borgerhout, in order to work in co-creation with the elderly and local policy towards a more elderly-friendly living environment. 

City renewal as a social practice

This research project answers the question of how diverse voices and interests of residents can be better represented in urban renewal projects and how social work organisations can play an active role in this.

Contact us

Research Coordinator

Pieter Cools