Current project

What is HEBE?

The HEBE Project is an investigation that focuses on youth empowerment. The line of research began in 2010 with a project focused on the participatory evaluation of community actions as a methodology for personal and community empowerment (Ref: EDU2010-15122). In the 2013 announcement, the research focused on young people and their spaces, moments and processes of empowerment (Ref.: EDU2013-42979-R) and in 2017, the research continued this last project, also identifying the factors enhancers and limiters of youth empowerment (Ref: EDU2017-83249-R). From 2021, the project analyses youth empowerment from the perspective of the community (Ref.: PID2020-119939RB-I00). The pandemic situation experienced recently has highlighted the importance and need of the community to face and overcome extraordinary situations. It is intended to generate knowledge of the youth empowerment processes from the interactions and limitations of community contexts. The tools and resources created in the preceding projects will be used to analyse in depth the communities formed in three specific case studies (Girona, Celrà and Ciutat Vella in Barcelona).

The HEBE Project is led by the University of Girona and researchers from three more universities participate in the current research team: the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​the University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Madrid. The HEBE Project is funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation (MCIN) and the State Research Agency (AEI).

The concept of youth empowerment

The concept of youth empowerment addressed by this research is based on the idea that ​​ young individuals or young people as a collective should not take responsibility for this process, nor share this responsibility only with the community. Rather, we believe that public policies are largely responsible for the possibilities of empowerment that young people have at their disposal, because they largely depend on resources, services and programmes that can limit or enhance their abilities and, ultimately, their opportunities for empowerment

An extensive documentary analysis of youth empowerment has been carried out as part of the research (Úcar, Jiménez-Morales, Soler, Trilla, 2016), and on the basis of this we have formulated our own definition and a pedagogical model for the places, times and processes involved in youth empowerment ( Soler, Trilla, Jiménez-Morales, Úcar, 2017). The core idea of ​​empowerment refers to two different but successive abilities: firstly, the ability to decide, and then the ability to act in a manner consistent with what has been decided.

In order for these abilities to be put into practice and exercised, at least two necessary conditions must be in place:

  • Young people must have certain internal, personal or psychological capabilities (knowledge, attitudes, aptitudes, values, abilities). This condition is essentially subject to their education.
  • The environment in which young people evolve must enable them to make decisions and execute them. This condition is subject to political, economic, legal, and material aspects, as well as others such as rules and regulations, social pressures, stereotypes, modes, etc.

The concrete definition for our idea of ​​empowerment is as follows:

“It is that process which increases the likelihood of a person being able to decide on and act consistently regarding everything that affects their own lives, participate in decision-making and intervene in a shared and responsible way with regard to the collective they form a part of. This requires two conditions: that they acquire and develop a series of personal capabilities (knowledge, attitudes, aptitudes, skills…), and that the environment facilitates their being able to use these capabilities effectively.” (Soler, Trilla, Jiménez-Morales and Úcar, 2017, p. 22)

The concept of empowerment is analyzed in detail and it is proposed to approach it from nine dimensions: Rúbrica HEBE, Equipo HEBE (2019), Soler, P., Trull, C., Rodrigo, P. i Corbella, L. (2019), (Planas, A., Trilla, J., Garriga,P., Alonso, A. i Monseny, M., 2016).


The research in progress, started in 2021, works on two main objectives:

  • Analyse and optimize community processes and resources for youth empowerment
  • Analyse the socio-educational projects that are being developed in the community and contribute to their improvement by providing tools and strategies that contribute to youth empowerment.

Some of the current questions we want to answer are: How does the community influence on youth empowerment? What strategies and resources should promote the community to facilitate the empowerment of young people? What synergies are established between socio-educational projects and their community environment? What is the impact of youth empowerment projects on young people themselves and in the community?

Investigation methodology

The research uses the case study methodology. Three communities in Catalonia have been selected: the Ciutat Vella district, the city of Girona and the municipality of Celrà. Each of the three communities is constituted as a case that can serve as a reference to help us to understand and advance in the design of public policies and socio-educational services for youth.

The research is structured around different lines of action in which a mixed methodological approach is applied with quantitative and qualitative methodological tools.

The research is structured around four lines of action (LA).

  • LA1 includes the initial planning (entry into the community and constitution and dynamization of motor groups).
  • LA2 and LA3 are developed simultaneously and complement and reinforce each other throughout the research process. The LA2 aims to analyse each community as a unit based on community maps, secondary data analysis, interviews, discussion groups and life stories. LA3 focuses on the socio-educational youth empowerment projects of each community, based on the documentary analysis, the application of the rubric for the evaluation of socio-educational actions and projects, the interview with project professionals and the application of questionnaires to young people participants of these projects.
  • Finally, LA4 is transversal and includes triangulation, transfer and return to the community with the dissemination of the results. For the transfer and dissemination in the communities, a socio-educational hackathon has been planned in each community.

The project has been thought of as a process of co-construction of knowledge with the different agents (young people, professionals, politicians and citizens), who are involved from the very first moment of the process. The result of the project should serve to:

  • generate new and useful knowledge that helps politicians, policymakers and society to create scenarios that favour the empowerment of youth, and
  • generate an impact on the participating communities themselves. We aim that the research itself would be a generator of empowerment: for the young people who participate, but also for the community.

Results of previous research

The results of the HEBE Project are serving to generate knowledge within professionals who work with young people, as well as to identify the elements that best meet the empowerment needs of young people. In addition, they are contributing to decision-making in different areas of public policy. Among some of the concrete results it is worth mentioning:

  • The scientific contribution that can be consulted in the dissemination section of this website, with the list of articles, books, book chapters, communications, thesis and final master’s work, reports and other dissemination materials.
  • Digital footprints. n interactive documentary in which a group of young people share their experience on processes, spaces and moments of empowerment throughout their youth. It also contains a visual pedagogy workshop as a youth empowerment experience and as a space for creation.
  • The HEBE rubric for the evaluation of youth empowerment actions and programs. The tool starts from nine dimensions, from which 27 indicators are displayed, which are rubricated to facilitate their analysis and subsequent assessment by educational teams that want to deepen youth empowerment.
  • Orbital logbooks. It is an audiovisual resource that houses the different stages of the empowerment process that ten education professionals have defined with their reflections. It allows access to the materials produced (field notebooks, audiovisual pieces on specific topics, fragments of group spotlights, etc.) and deepen the concept of empowerment and the social work with young people.
  • Declaration on youth empowerment. It is a declaration with the intention of contributing to the debate about the role that young people have in today’s society. Helps to define strategies that facilitate a more inclusive and fair society. Its text has been subjected to different phases of preparation and approval with the intention of gathering the maximum number of supports. It is intended that this Declaration can be used to base and articulate a way to understanding youth participation by organizations and youth movements, and by entities, institutions or services that work with young people. To defend the youth participation and, in some way, the prominence of young people in society as a whole.