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cabecera insituto familia


Fernando Vidal

"Given that the family is the subject's fundamental place of constitution and engagement, family crises experienced in all social settings –especially in those more affected by poverty or at risk of social exclusion– leave people with hearts so heavy that it sometimes makes their daily lives unsustainable. This has consequences in our countries, where civil society is built primarily on the strength of the family and, therefore, if there is a lack of families then no consistent agencies will be created, nor will sustainable individuals and relationships be formed. The whole society and each and every individual are at stake regarding the state of family health.

However, family is the main resource people turn to in their daily lives and especially children and young people: it is the main source of resistance, resilience and development. Without a robust relationship with family, we all tend to be, in some way or another, homeless people, even when we have financial support. Despite the evolution of intervention models, we still have a long way to go in terms of progress regarding social innovation involving families: when dealing with changes being implemented in our society, new guidance is required, as well as new policies and a new generation of innovative tools in the field of intervention regarding families and in the role of family as a driving force for social development and social policies.

Here at the University Institute of Family Studies, in our experience of research and intervention on families in difficult neighborhoods or those which are extremely socially vulnerable, we have seen that the liquid and individualistic society that is wide-spread throughout cultures all over the world endangers the integral human development of people and populations, particularly where there is more poverty. In order to combat this, we are stepping up our work on research, teaching, innovation and social change with the aim of being able to help vulnerable families.

As our great Chancellor, Father Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, says, if the new borders where we should be are to be found where exile begins, the internal and social breakdowns that cause family vulnerability, undoubtedly, call us to the front line."

Prof. Fernando Vidal.
Director of the University Institute of Family Studies.
Comillas Pontifical University.

Mission and Objectives

The University Institute of Family Studies (IUF) is a center at the Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid - directed by the Society of Jesus - created in 1984 with the aim of researching, teaching, intervening and publicly reflecting on the family as a fundamental community of society, paying special attention to those situations where the family is vulnerable. The IUF carries out its academic work: research, training and social intervention in order to overcome family crises and promote the family as a building block for meaning and solidarity, especially where there is a greater risk for the sustainable development of people and the social community.

A constituting characteristic of the IUF is that it carries out all of its activities from an interdisciplinary perspective, collaborating with a network of professors and researchers from different areas of the Comillas Pontifical University in the fields of Law, Psychology, Sociology, Social Work, Teaching and Education, Business Studies, International and Transnational Relations, Engineering, Theology and Canon Law.


The IUF runs the group Family and children at the International Campus of Excellence Aristos Campus Mundus, where it takes part along with Boston College (Massachusetts), Fordhan University (New York), Georgetown University (Washington), the University of Deusto (Bilbao) and Ramón Llull University (Barcelona) with whom they carry out research, teaching and innovation.

The IUF belongs to the Society of Jesus, the largest private university corporation in the world, made up of 210 universities. Furthermore, it has founded, run and belongs to the international university networks Family-IFCU and Social Sciences-IFCU.

Chair in Family and Disability: Repsol Foundation-Down Madrid

The Chair in Family and Disability forms part of the IUF: Repsol Foundation-Down Madrid.

Objectives: to research and promote the quality of life and well-being of people with intellectual disabilities, and their families, from a multi-professional, innovative and critical perspective, as well as one which is committed to society.

Aims of the Chair include developing training, research and knowledge management activities, as well as development and innovation of a scientific nature within the field of disability.

Within the Chair, we run the teaching program DEMOS, aimed at training to promote employment and university attendance of young people with an intellectual disability.


The IUF has provided specialized teaching since it began through different undergraduate and postgraduate courses. It is currently focusing on the pioneering program DEMOS for people with a disability and also the Master's Degree in Adoption and Foster Care.


The University Institute of Family Studies carries out an intensive research agenda funded by public and private agencies, both in terms of basic and applied research and focused on the following priority areas:

  • Family Policies and Work/Family life balance.
  • Children, Young People and Family
  • Adoption and Foster Care
  • Mediation, Counseling and Family Therapy
  • Family, Poverty and Social Exclusion

Editorial Collection

In order to convey the research outcomes, the Institute publishes and runs its own editorial collection of books in Comillas Publications Service.

The latest titles published are:

  • Nuevos Escenarios de Violencia y Familia
  • La Orientación Familiar en el Ámbito Escolar
  • Esta es tu historia. Identidad y Comunicación sobre los Orígenes en Adopción
  • Infancia en España: Nuevos Desafíos Sociales, Nuevas Respuestas Jurídicas
  • Violencia Intrafamiliar: Hacia unas Relaciones Familiares sin Violencia
  • La Familia ante la Enfermedad
  • Violencia contra las Mujeres en la Pareja
  • Aspectos Civiles de la Sustracción Internacional de Menores
  • Los Retos de la Postadopción
  • La Adaptación Familiar en Adopción Internacional
  • Las Adopciones Internacionales Truncadas y en Riesgo