News and Events
“Engaging Urban Youth: Community, Citizenship and Democracy”, workshop will take place on the 12th March 2018 at the Institute for Life Course and Society, NUI Galway between 11am – 3pm. This is part of a wider stakeholder engagement process which is being held in Galway, Dublin, Belfast and London.
The aim of the project is to highlight how best we can successfully engage young people, particularly those from disadvantaged or marginalized backgrounds, in civic and political life. The main aim of the study is to explore how young people from 3 cities (London, Belfast, and Dublin) engage with civic and political systems and how best to promote their positive engagement. We worked with colleagues in Galway as a pilot site for the project. The research included an investigation of the policies, organizations, and programs that seek to promote youth civic and political engagement and the views and experiences of young people themselves.
The aims of the workshop are to:
- Present main findings so far and consult with colleagues about them.
- Seek feedback and comments on the findings to inform our final report.
- Discuss possible recommendations for practice and policy at the local, national, and international level.
The format of the workshop will include presentations of study findings followed by focused discussion. We would very much welcome your participation in the workshop, which will inform our finalization of the report and elaboration of key recommendations. Please feel free to invite others whom you think would be interested to attend and ask them to register.
To register, click on the Eventbrite Link here : Galway Consultation Workshop - 12 March 2018
Closing date for Registration is the 7th March 2018.
Cillian Murphy, Actor and Patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, pictured with l-r: NUI Galway Youth Researchers; Sarah O’Roarke, Creggs, Co. Roscommon, Aisling Dunphy, Carrick-on-Suir and Ciara Beth Ní Ghríofa, Athenry, Co. Galway, at NUI Galway’s Youth Empathy Day. Photo: Aengus McMahon
25th Anniversary of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme
Professor Pat Dolan recently participated as a co-moderator at the 25th anniversary of the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, celebrated during the 39th session of the General Conference of UNESCO, Paris, 31 October 2017.
This event hosted representatives of over 200 UNESCO Chairs, National Commissions and UNESCO, from 48 countries from all the regions of the world. UNESCO launched the Programme with the purpose of strengthening international co-operation between higher education institutions through twinning and networking arrangements and to foster academic solidarity in favour of developing countries and countries in transition.
Since its creation, the Programme has met with great interest from Member States and continues to develop steadily. From some 17 Chairs established in 1992 the number has today surpassed 700 established Chairs and interuniversity networks. These projects are located in some 116 countries and involve thousands of academics, scholars and graduate students, as well as key partners from civil society and the economic sector.
Today UNITWIN Programme is one of the main thrusts and most important downstream activities of UNESCO’s programme in higher education. The Programme provides an opportunity for the higher education and research community to join forces with UNESCO to contribute to the implementation of its programmes and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
(L-R): Professor Pat Dolan, Director, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre & Professor Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Community, Leadership, and Youth Development The Pennsylvania State University
Researchers from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway have published their latest research findings based on the experiences of children, young people and their families involved in Meitheal*, the Tusla-led early intervention national practice model. The research is part of a comprehensive programme of early intervention and preventative work undertaken by Tusla as part of the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support (PPFS) Programme.
This research provides an overview of the interim findings of the report entitled, ‘Meitheal Process and Outcomes Study’, for which data collection is ongoing. This is a longitudinal study with three waves of data collection that focuses on gathering data at a pre, post and follow-up stage. This report focuses specifically on data gathered on the implementation and impact of Meitheal.
The NUI Galway study shows that families benefit most when there is a trusting relationship with the practitioners supporting them, when they are asked their views about what is causing the difficulties and what would help resolve these when agencies work together. It is important to understand the strengths and needs of the wider family and not to concentrate solely on the child or young person in question experiencing difficulties. The research also shows that the mothers’ well-being has a big impact on the well-being of children and young people.
This research was carried out by Dr Carmel Devaney, lecturer and principal investigator on a number of research and evaluation projects under the Prevention, Partnership and Family Support Programme, and postdoctoral researchers Dr Leonor Rodriguez and Dr Anne Cassidy at NUI Galway.
Speaking about the study, Dr Carmel Devaney said: “The findings highlight the importance of the supportive empathetic relationship between practitioners and families. Family members also reported their appreciation of being included in the process of identifying their needs and deciding on a helpful response to these. Children and young people highlighted that they felt listened to, with some noting definite improvements in their lives as a result of taking part in Meitheal.
“While it is too early to determine the impact of Meitheal on the system of help provision in the Irish context, its introduction has heightened the visibility of the work that Tusla carries out with families who do not meet the threshold for an intervention by Child Protection and Welfare services.”
This report is part of the wider programme of research and evaluation that the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway are involved with, in relation to Tusla’s Programme of Prevention, Partnership and Family Support. Further research on the impact of Meitheal and its outcomes will be published in mid-2018.
To read the report in full, visit: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/publications/policyreports/
Picture (L-R): Dr John Canavan, Dr Leonor Rodriguez, Dr Carmel Devaney and Dr Anne Cassidy, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway. Photo: NUI Galway
Ciara Beth Ni Ghriofa, Youth Researcher at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre presented her work on empathy education and youth research at the 10th UNESCO Youth Forum hosted at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, between 25th-26th October 2017.
The Forum brings together expert youth from all regions of the world to discuss pertinent issues related to UNESCO fields of competence that they would have identified during a preparatory phase earlier in the year.
Since 1999, the UNESCO Youth Forum has provided an innovative, ongoing opportunity for youth to work in dialogue with UNESCO, to shape and direct the Organization’s approach and to present their concerns and ideas to Member States.
Picture: Ciara Beth Ni Ghriofa, Youth Researcher, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre
A new book by Professor Pat Dolan, the Routledge Handbook of Global Child Welfare, was officially launched at the House of Lords in Westminster, London on Tuesday 17 October by Doreen Elizabeth Massey, Baroness Massey of Darwen and Labour member of the House of Lords.
Briefings were presented at the Launch by Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, Professor Jenny Pearce, University of Bedfordshire, Georgette Mulheir, Lumos Foundation (whose founder and President is the Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling) and Professor Nick Frost, Leeds Beckett University.
Drawing on eminent international expertise, the book offers a coherent and comprehensive overview of the policies, systems and practices that can deliver the best outcomes for children. It considers the challenges faced by children globally, and the difference families, services and professionals can make.
(L-R): Professor Nick Frost, Leeds Beckett University & Professor Pat Dolan, Director, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre
5th July 2017: 8th Biennial International Conference: Rediscovering Empathy; Values, Relationships and Practice in a Changing World (2017)
8th Biennial International Conference: Rediscovering Empathy; Values, Relationships and Practice in a Changing World (2017)
Catch up on our latest Biennial conference, presentations and full video links now available!
Please click on the title of the presentation to download, or view the video recordings in full below.
Professor David Howe: Empathy, Emotional Intelligence and Relationship-based Practice
Watch the full presentation here
Professor Kathleen Lynch: Why Love,Care and Solidarity are Political Matters: Equality and Social Justice
Watch the full presentation here
Professor Pat Dolan and Youth Researchers Ms Ashling Dunphy & Ms Ciara Beth Ní Ghríofa: Activating Social Empathy: Learning with and from Youth Researchers
Watch the full presentation here
Ms. Mary Gordon: Roots of Empathy, Changing the World Child by Child
Watch the full presentation here
Fr. Peter McVerry SJ: Special Guest Speaker
Watch the full presentation here
6th June 2017: Conference to Highlight the Necessity for Compulsory Empathy Education in Preventing Violent Extremism
Conference to Highlight the Necessity for Compulsory Empathy Education in Preventing Violent Extremism
NUI Galway conference will focus on the perceived decline in empathy, care and social solidarity, which is both an Irish and global concern among youth radicalisation
Are empathy, care and social solidarity in decline and what are the consequences of this in Ireland and globally? These are some of the questions to be addressed at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway when it hosts its 8th Biennial International Family Support Conference in June.
The role of compulsory empathy education to address radicalisation among youths will also be a key focus at the NUI Galway conference. Violent extremism is a threat that knows no borders as witnessed from the recent horrific attack at Manchester Arena, again highlighting the vulnerability of innocent children.
There are currently 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 in the world. This ‘youth bulge’ is the largest youth population ever. One out of 10 of the world’s children live in conflict zones and 24 million of them are out of school. Political instability, labour market challenges and limited space for political and civic participation have increased the pressures on young women and men in societies across the world, deepening their vulnerability to violent extremism. Any lasting solution to prevent violent extremism must place youth at the forefront. Young people are the most affected by multiple and often interlinked forms of violence - they also play vital roles as agents of positive change, which must be nurtured and empowered, through skills, training and new forms of educational engagement.
Speaking in advance of the Conference, Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair of the Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, commented: “We know that empathy education is now recognised as one of the key ingredients in the prevention of youth violent extremism. Ireland should not be complacent about this serious issue and needs to lead the way in the development of empathy education in schools. This is no longer just an issue in the UK, France and Belgium, it also has real resonance for Ireland, and the challenges of intolerance, hatred and fear is now a global humanitarian crisis.
“Through UNESCO and global counter-extremism organisations, we have worked with youths who were formally radicalised. Through an empathy education programme such as ours these youths are no longer engaged in radicalised thinking and have now become activists for peace.”
Professor Dolan continued: “From hate crime including racism, bullying, and all the way to violent youth extremism – the enablement of empathy belonging to cultural integration in the lives of young people in Ireland is a key part of the true, and only long-term solution. Empathy education should be specifically provided in schools and part of compulsory education – it is no longer a matter of choice but a necessity.
“While for society, there is an urgent need for empathy informed policy and action to address structural inequalities and disparities, a guarantee that professionals working with children and youth demonstrate empathy and compassion is assumed, and it should not be. It is time to reassess the role of empathy among professionals including social workers and teachers.”
UNESCO’s role in promoting education as a tool to prevent violent extremism are already underway with the following activities currently being implemented.
- The promotion of Youth and Parliament – youths working in partnership with Government and agencies.
- Building peace in the minds of men and women.
- A Teacher’s Guide on the ‘Prevention of Violent Extremism’ is in development to provide guidance and practical tips to teachers on how to manage classroom discussions on radicalisation and prevent violent extremism.
- Work is in progress to tackle the importance of social media in promoting violent extremism. Global research studies are being carried out to examine the role of social media in processes of radicalisation. Policy guidelines are being developed on digital citizenship to identify, advocate and promote values, which can guide responsible online behaviour.
- The promotion of holistic and humanistic visions of learning, which convey values for just and inclusive societies, a set of multimodal online modules on violent extremism are being developed that are promoting critical thinking and enquiry-based learning from the perspective of global citizenship.
High level keynote speakers from Canada, India and Ireland will lead the discussions, while Irish and international practitioners and researchers will provide 36 workshops on key conference themes. A special talk will be given by Fr Peter McVerry SJ, social activist and advocate for those who have no voice in society.
The conference is entitled ‘Rediscovering Empathy; Values, Relationships and Practice in a Changing World’ and will touch on topics from Emotional Intelligence to Social Justice, and will address the need for empathy education in schools. It will take place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society on the North Campus at NUI Galway on 8 – 9 June.
For more information and to register for the Conference, visit: http://conference.ie/Conferences/index.asp?Conference=491
30th May 2017: Deadline extended for Applications for the MA in Family Support Studies, The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway
Deadline Extended! Apply now: http://www.nuigalway.ie:81/courses/taught-postgraduate-courses/family-support-studies.html#course_overview
Entry Requirements: Participants will have a third-level qualification or a recognised professional qualification in a field broadly related to family support service delivery. In addition, as the programme is not geared towards individuals coming out of undergraduate programmes, a minimum of three years’ work experience in the health and social services area is required of candidates. As there currently exists a set of practitioners working with children and families who, despite a wealth of skills, have not attained a formal, recognised undergraduate qualification, two places may be offered on the programme at the PDip (Family Support Studies) level.
15th May 2017: The launch of ‘The Evaluation of the Mol an Óige Common Sense Parenting Programme', Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo.
On Monday the 15th of May 2017, the launch of ‘The Evaluation of the Mol an Óige Common Sense Parenting Programme’ took place in Kiltimagh, Co. Mayo.
Responding to a specific need for parenting and family support in Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon, the Mol an Óige Common Sense Parenting (CSP) programme is a parent-training intervention. First implemented in Co. Mayo and Co. Roscommon in 2009, CSP targets a mix of the general parent/guardian population and other at-risk groups. Its purpose is to teach parents practical and effective ways to enhance their parenting skills and strengthen their children’s potential and quality of life, the programme also equips participants with practical and effective skills which they can use to improve their parenting and family relationships.
The evaluation, undertaken by Mr John Reddy and Dr John Canavan from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway in partnership with Tusla, Child and Family Agency, assessed the effectiveness of CSP for improving participant parenting, child behavior and the quality of family relationships. This research provides evidence of the success of the CSP programme in an Irish context. Findings suggest that core components of the programme involve both the teaching of effective parenting skills and the enhancement of participants’ confidence through the group process. In the areas where CSP was implemented, the study found consistent positive changes, and changes maintained over time, on child behavior and parenting.
The launch was attended by Mr Fred McBride, CEO of Tusla, researchers from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, CSP facilitators and the Parents that took part in the study. The full report is available at: www.nuigalway.ie/childandfamilyresearch
6th April 2017-Two new research projects at the UCFRC, Funded by the Irish Research Council, Tulsa, the Child and Family Agency and the Department of Children & Youth Affairs
‘Empathy, Caring and Connection among Early Adolescents: An Empirical Analysis by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (UCFRC)
The UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre has recently been awarded €100,000 in funding by the Irish Research Council for a study entitled Empathy, Caring and Connection among Early Adolescents: An Empirical Analysis. The funding bid was led by Dr Bernadine Brady, Prof, Pat Dolan and Dr Brian McGrath and was awarded following a response to an open call from the Irish Research Council for ‘Research to Address Issues of National Societal Importance’. This study aims to generate empirical evidence regarding the values and experiences of Irish youth towards a range of issues which reflect a sense of social and political responsibility towards others, including an analysis of factors (including parental attitudes, school culture and community engagement) that influence the development of social values and empathy.This evidence will inform the development of policy interventions in the area of education and child and youth development. A post-doctoral researcher will be employed from April 2017 for 18 months to undertake mixed methods research with 13-15 year olds in a nationally representative sample of schools.
Longitudinal study on children in care or children leaving care within the Irish context.
The UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre has also recently been awarded €50,000 in funding to carry out a research study to consider the feasibility of conducting a longitudinal study on children in care or children leaving care within the Irish context. The funding bid was led by Dr Carmel Devaney and was awarded following a response to an open call from the Irish Research Council. As part of the IRC Research for Policy and Society the study is implementing the DCYA’s Ryan Report Recommendation regarding a longitudinal study.
This project is funded by the 'Irish Research Council, Tulsa, the Child and Family Agency and the Department of Children & Youth Affairs. The research will focus on the methodology, technical considerations and value for money elements of conducting such a study. Learning from similar studies with this cohort and with the general population in other jurisdictions will be included. The policy and practice context in which such studies are located will also be considered. A post-doctoral researcher will be employed from April 2017 for 12 months to undertake this research.
1st February 2017- Congratulations to Ciara-Beth Ní Ghríofa , UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre Youth Researcher and recent winner of the Abbott “Life to the Fullest” Award at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition.
Our team actively supports youth to engage in research on issues of interest to them. Supporting youth to lead on research projects positively contributes to their development, enhancing their skill set and empowering them to investigate and take action on issues of relevance to their lives. Ciara Beth designed, developed and trialled ‘a discrete social prompt’ in the form of a phone app to help children with Autism. The app has a simple yet intricate alarm and prompt function to remind children with Autism to make eye contact. Development of the app was made possible through support and training from Eoin Dolan, Foroige Soundsufers and Jen Hesnan, Techspace programme, which aims to encourage young people between the ages of 10 and 18 to be media creators as well as consumers. Thanks also to our Patron Cillian Murphy for letter of support for Ciara Beth's application.Given that according to recognised experts in the field of Autism generally and supporters of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA) most particularly, eye contact enhancement is a key aspect of social communication for young people on the Autism spectrum, the creation of this concise instrument by Ciara Beth is not just innovative but particularly timely.
The United Nations World Youth Report will be launched at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, 15 July and focuses on Youth Civic Engagement in 2016. The publication is comprised of contributions from international experts including UNESCO Chair and Director of NUI Galway’s Child and Family Research Centre Professor Pat Dolan.
The report, published biennially, was commissioned in the context of an increased policy focus on youth civic engagement to counter the rise in youth radicalisation and the growing disenfranchisement among young people with traditional forms of political participation.
The United Nations World Youth Report spans economic, political and community civic engagement models. These elements, grounded in discourses over the purpose and nature of youth as citizens, highlight a number of societal benefits to better recognition of young people as contributors to the development of their communities and society. The Report calls for the development of inclusive policies and decision-making processes that facilitate meaningful engagement and active partnership by young people.
Professor Dolan said: “At a very real and human level this world youth report demonstrates that positive engagement of youth, in real ways in school and community settings, is core to future of Irish civic society, and needs and deserves fuller respect by adults including politicians. Young people when given the opportunity are equally, if not more empathic and willing than adults, and more than willing to play a positive role – youth are civic actors now and into the future.”
In a context-setting piece, UNESCO Chairs Pat Dolan and Mark Brennan of Pennsylvania State argue that perspectives that see youth as individuals with the positive motivation and skills to contribute to their communities have immediate benefits in terms of young people becoming more involved as collaborators, team members, leaders and decision makers within their communities while also setting up young people on a lifetime course of broader engagement in political and economic life.
For further information on the United Nations World Youth Report visit www.unworldyouthreport.org.
16th June 2016-Rita Melia of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre awarded prestigious Fulbright Award
On June 16th 2016, The Fulbright Commission awarded a 2016/2017 Fulbright- National University of Ireland Visiting Research Award for research in early childhood education and care at the Fulbright Awards ceremony in the American Ambassador’s Residence Phoenix Park, Dublin. This award, presented to Rita Melia NUI Galway is the first Fulbright award in the area of early childhood education and care and highlights the growing awareness of the importance of quality early childhood experiences for young children and the need for research in early childhood education and care.
On the 29th of June 2016, the launch took place of ‘Understanding Family Support’ at Queens University Belfast. Published in London and Philadelphia by Jessica Kingsley the book is authored by the director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research centre, Prof. Pat Dolan, Associate Director, Dr. John Canavan along with Prof. John Pinkerton of Queen’s University Belfast. The book provides a definition of family support and a clear perspective on the role that it has in promoting the welfare of children and their families. It is a resource for any professional engaged in policy development, service design, delivering or evaluation of family support, including social workers, residential care staff, community development workers, teachers, community police, human services managers, evaluators and policy makers.
Launched at the Friary, Ballyhaunis on the 8th of June 2016, this study, which has been funded by Tusla – Child and Family Agency, highlights the significance of early year’s services in the Ballyhaunis area that are responsive, inclusive and accessible to all children and families in the region. It also looks at how both the crèche and preschool services foster principles such as respect for social and cultural diversity, inclusivity and participatory ways of working with children and families which are key in the area given the diversity of the local community. The report was authored by the UCFRC’s Dr. Lisa Moran, Dr. Sheila Garrity, Prof. Caroline McGregor and Dr. Carmel Devaney.
‘Philosophy and Political Engagement: Reflections in the Public Sphere’, Book Launch Friday 27th May 2016.
On the 27th of May 2016, The book launch of ‘Reflection in the Public Sphere’ edited by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre’s Dr. Allyn Fives along with Keith Breen (Queen’s University Belfast) (Palgrave, 2016) at the National University of Ireland, Galway. The volume is dedicated to Joseph Mahon to mark his retirement from NUI Galway where he taught Philosophy from 1968 – 2013. The launch took take place in the Moore Institute Seminar Room (G010), Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway.
Pictured at the launch (left to right) are: Annie McKeown O’Donovan (Philosophy, NUI Galway), Prof Russell Keat (Edinburgh), Prof James E. Mahon (CUNY-Lehman), Dr Allyn Fives (Political Science & Sociology, UCFRC, NUI Galway), President Jimmy Browne, Dr Keith Breen (Queens’ University Belfast), Prof Felix O’Murchadha (Philosophy, NUI Galway), Dr Richard Hull (Philosophy, NUI Galway), Joseph Mahon (Philosophy, NUI Galway)
15th April 2016- Prof. Robert J. Chaskin Guest address, Engaging Urban Youth: Community, Citizenship, and Democracy
Prof. Robert J. Chaskin Guest address, April 15th, 2016: Engaging Urban Youth: Community, Citizenship, and Democracy
The Centre welcomes Professor Robert J. Chaskin, Professor and the Deputy Dean for Strategic Initiatives at the School of Social Service Administration, and Affiliated Scholar at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. Professor Chaskin will be carrying out a two year Marie Curie Fellowship with the centre from 2016-2018. His research interests include community organizing and development, community social organization, comprehensive community initiatives, youth development, associations and nonprofits, philanthropy and social change, social housing policy, knowledge utilization and evaluation, and cross-national research. On the 15th of April, as part of the Lunchtime seminars, Professor Chaskin gave an address on Engaging Urban Youth: Community, Citizenship, and Democracy.
14th Child and Family Welfare Network Event: Dr. Linda Liebenberg, 10th February 2016.
On the 10th of February 2016, the Centre welcomed Dr Linda Liebenberg to speak at the UCFRC 14th Child and Family Network Event. Dr Liebenberg is a leading researcher and evaluator in the field of youth resilience and community development, with a core interest in children and youth with complex needs. Her work explores the promotion of positive youth development and mental health, using formal and informal processes of resilience. In her address, Dr. Leibenberg discussed a substantial research project in rural Canada which reconsiders the practice of Social Work and its relationship to those it aims to assist. The seminar refers back to its fundamental questioning regarding the risks of an over-focus on ‘professionalism’ and the undervalued potential of informal social support. She highlighted the need for social work to remain focused on its values in an attempt to find solutions when interacting with the needs of individuals, families and communities remaining open minded to the possibility that these solutions may be provided in an informal manner.
Galway School 2015: ‘Child Rights in Practice’: Realising children’s rights through empowering parents and families’
Left to Right: Dr. John Canavan (Unesco Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway), Ms. Agatta D’Addato (Eurochild), Dr. Maria Herczog (Eurochild), Cllr. Frank Fahy (Galway Mayor), Ms. Georgette Mulheir (Lumos), Professor. Pat Dolan (Unesco Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway)
From the 1st to the 4th of December 2015, Eurochild, UNESCO Chairs Global Network, Council of Europe and UNICEF Office of Research -Innocenti took the opportunity to organise this first edition of the Galway School ‘Child Rights in Practice and Research’, focusing on family and parenting support in the context of realising children’s rights.
Hosted by the UNESCO Child and Family Research centre at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, this closed expert meeting brought together 70 ‘policy-literate’ practitioners and researchers from across Europe to explore concepts and shared practices, recognising the enormous value of learning from other countries and cultures and from the different perspectives of academia, policy and practice.
The four overarching objectives of the school was to gain knowledge and understanding on how family support impacts on the realisation of children’s rights in practice, underpinned by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and Council of Europe Recommendation on Policy to Support Positive Parenting, to build the capacity of delegates to focus on how to (a) build the evidence (b) present the evidence and (c) engage with and influence policy makers, to share ‘inspiring practices’ from across Europe in integrated family support services and to strengthen collaboration and exchange among practitioners and researchers in children’s rights across Europe.
Conference Attendees Group Photo
30th November 2015-President Michael D Higgins gives inaugural lecture at the Launch of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society
President Michael D Higgins gives inaugural lecture at the Launch of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, Monday 30th November 2015
On Monday 30 November 2015, President Michael D Higgins gave the inaugural lecture marking the official launch of the Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS), following the Tánaiste’s visit to open the Institute less than two weeks before. An NUI Galway alumnus, President Higgins congratulated the university on the “splendid building” that is the Institute for Lifecourse and Society and paid tribute to the “breadth and depth” of research that is conducted within it by its 150-strong team of staff, “a formidable resource” led by Professor Pat Dolan.
Stressing the importance of the ILAS centre’s “capacity to cooperate across disciplines”, President Higgins described the Institute as “a response to a fundamental issue” that has existed in Ireland since the formation of the State, socioeconomic inequality, and highlighted that one of the centre’s “great strengths” is its “strong emphasis on civic engagement”. Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of NUI Galway’s social sciences research centre, President Higgins’s lecture was inspired by his personal reflection on the enormous shift in social action and policy that has taken place since the college first opened as UCG; he said he found it “greatly inspiring to witness the real will that exists to envision a new version of citizenship, one that is fair and equitable and allows all its people to flourish.”
A notable academic, President Higgins also remarked on the “interdisciplinary character” of the Institute, and encouraged it to maintain its interest in “strong theoretical work”, while warning that to abandon work grounded in thorough academic research would be “disastrous” for all who participate in it.Throughout his lecture, President Higgins repeatedly highlighted the distinction between “craft” and “science”, questioning which is more effective at a human level, and outlined his hopes that the Lifecourse Institute would be “an exercise of empowerment” for young people that would give way to “a new form of contemporary literacy” and re-engage “young scholars”. In the latter half of his talk, President Higgins explored what he believes to be “welcome signs of change”, including the impending introduction of politics and society as a Leaving Certificate subject in 2016, a change he feels will foster future generations’ capacity for “transformative thinking”.
Repeating the importance of “crafting” in the Lifecourse Institute’s work (marrying theoretical research grounded by academia with a practical approach that embraces “the fullness of the person”), President Higgins revealed his hope that all who work in the ILAS centre are joyful in their approach to their practice, and that their work will lead to a better, more cohesive society in modern-day Ireland.Renowned nationwide for his all-encompassing vision and perspective, President Higgins’s lecture did not just focus on the Lifecourse Institute and the work conducted within it; his talk was grounded in global issues such as the role of the State, economic policy, the migration crisis in the E.U., and the rise of extremism.
Contrasting the holistic approach taken by ILAS-based researchers, President Higgins expressed his frustration at what he perceives as a lack of an interdisciplinary approach worldwide, outlining his belief that society’s response to the suffering of individuals must be “immediate”, while also recognising that their “right has been denied”, and supported by a “clear vision” for progression.
Concluding, President Higgins reflected on the recent Paris attacks, and accepted that we live in “a time of understandable fear”, but encouraged all present to “face up to tough choices”, to “seize the opportunity to work together”, and not to “let words become empty”. He reminded the audience that “the participation of citizenship was at the centre of the republicanism” that led to the founding of the Irish State; that “a true republic” should be judged on how it meets the needs of its people, “and of the stranger,” particularly as we approach the centenary of the 1916 Rising.
View the speech in full here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1MpPc6Hz7g
24th November 2015-Prof. Daniel Russel and Dr. Carolyn Cutrona: Current Issues in Social Support Seminar
On November 24th 2015, the Centre welcomed Professor Dan Russel and Dr. Carolyn Cutrona of Iowa State University to speak as part of the Centre’s lunchtime seminar series 2015. The seminar, entitled ‘Current Issues in Social Support’ provided the central discussion point for the seminar along with a breadth of issues in relation to support and resilience. Prof. Russell is a research associate at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, and has provided training to the team on advanced quantitative research methods. Dr. Cutrona is the chair of the Department of Psychology at the Iowa State University and in the past has worked on numerous projects with members of the Centre also.
UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan and Cillian Murphy actor and patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research centre meet with Irina Bokova Director General of UNESCO 9th Nov 2015
‘Youth as Researchers – Invoking Empathy and Activating Young Peopl'e was the title of a public conversation NUI Galway’s UNESCO Chair, Professor Pat Dolan conducted at the biennial UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris from October 26th to October 28th. The Chair hosted the session which featured youth researchers, trained by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre in conversation with Irish actor Cillian Murphy, who is patron of the Centre on the theme of activating youth voice through film and youth-led research.
The session also included the launch by Cillian Murphy of two videos documenting the findings of youth researcher projects – one on mental health awareness and the other on the challenges facing LGBT youth on projects undertaken by representatives of Foróige, Ireland’s leading youth work organisation in association with the actor earlier in the year.
According to the actor “Ensuring the voice of young people is present in matters directly affecting them is an issue close to my heart. Research driven by youth can build on their capacity and enable them to add their voice and influence change on issues that matter to them”.
The event highlighted the Youth as Researchers element of the UNESCO Chair’s work at NUI Galway. The Youth Researchers Programme is focused on training young people to undertake research across a number of areas on issues affecting their lives. The projects featured built on the work undertaken by the Foróige youth organisation research teams that emerged from youth researcher trainings conducted by the Child and Family Research Centre in early 2015. These are accompanied by the development of a Youth Researcher Training Manual and Workbook that have been used widely in youth organisation and clubs.
The short films are part of a broader initiative within the UCFRC to develop a programme to promote empathy in youth. Centre Director and UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan believes that empathy education should begin in school: “There is a role for taught, value-based empathy education in the school curriculum and in helping to understand diversity and difference”.
Also at the Forum, the UCFRC showcased its research partnership with the Lumos Foundation in the UK, founded by author JK Rowling in an effort to increase global momentum to reduce the number of children living in institutions. An interactive session presented by young people with disabilities from Eastern Europe hosted by CEO of Lumos Georgette Mulheir, Professor Pat Dolan, and UNESCO Chair Professor Mark Brennan demonstrated the importance of self-advocacy and new styles of participation which will bring about real inclusion.
Ailish Gowran, a 16-year-old transition year student gives her opinion on the marriage equality referendum. She wrote this article during her time as a youth researcher at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.
If other young people are interested in campaigning for a Yes vote they can through the BeLonGToYES coalition, comprising 14 youth and children's organisations, including the National Youth Council of Ireland, Foróige, Youth Work Ireland and EPIC. If you would like to get involved, and do what you can for a YES vote on May 22nd, then check out www.belongto.org. A copy of Ailish's opinion peice can be dowloaded from here-Youth Perspective on Marriage Ref
On July 2, 2015, the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (UCFRC) announced a research partnership with the Lumos Foundation founded by the author J.K. Rowling. Lumos is a renowned international foundation working to end the institutionalisation of children around the world by transforming the education, health and social care systems toward family-based care and/or foster care.
The partnership builds on the expertise of the UCFRC in prevention and early intervention, its track record in applied research and policy change, and its international reputation in Family Support and Youth Development. It incorporates the UCFRC’s extensive network of relationships particularly the Global Network of UNESCO Chairs in Children, Youth and Communities led by Professors Pat Dolan and Mark Brennan at Pennsylvania State University. The partnership is founded on a set of common goals including family support as a fundamental orientation that encompasses efforts to develop, compensate for, enable and strengthen family functioning; finding practical, cost-effective and sustainable ways to support families and children; and directing resources to evidence-based prevention and early intervention services.
An estimated eight million children worldwide live in institutions of whom at least 80% have living parents. Lumos has worked in Moldova, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic to replace models of care based on institutions with education, health and social services to support vulnerable families to stay together in the community and, more recently has undertaken work in Ukraine, Serbia and Haiti.
The research collaboration between the UCFRC and Lumos aims to increase global understanding of why so many children are separated from families and placed in orphanages in different regions of the world, evaluate methods of deinstitutionalisation, and investigate the best ways to support families to stay together.
The research programme will:
• Monitor the impact of moving from institutions to family based care on children and young people as they grow up in terms of health, quality to life and future chances;
• Evaluate ten years of Lumos’ work in its programme countries;
• Identify best practice for achieving the deinstitutionalisation of children across different regions of the world;
• Explore the cost-benefit in different regions of the world of replacing institutions with community based services;
• Develop models for advancing the work of Lumos in new regions around the world such as South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Thanks to a generous grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies, the partnership will start its activities by establishing links and learning opportunities between Irish examples of best practice, much of it also supported by Atlantic, and governments and practitioners in countries in the process of reforming systems of care and protection of children.
Announcing the partnership, Lumos CEO Georgette Mulheir said “Our mission is to help eight million children in institutions by promoting large-scale reform through our influence on governments and major international aid donors. We need compelling evidence to achieve the greatest impact. We are delighted to work with NUI Galway, which will bring world-leading independent academic rigour to our programmes – as well as an understanding of what works in practice to gain the best outcomes for children.”
The UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan who will work on the project with UNESCO Chair Professor Mark Brennan at Pennsylvania State University in the US said “The prospect of completing usable real-world research that helps to end the institutionalisation of children and youth globally, will be particularly fitting not only for UNESCO, and our research centre in NUI Galway, but for Ireland as a country given its sad and horrific past track record in relation to children in large orphanages."
Find out more about the research in The Irish Times, Irish Examiner and RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
A Galway based development charity marked it’s landmark 10th anniversary with an emotional and heartfelt birthday celebration at the city’s state of the art new Institute for Lifecourse and Society Institute building at NUI Galway, last month.
Close to 200 friends and invited guests joined founder and board members of The Alan Kerins Project for the occasion, which was also attended by the Minister for Development and Trade Sean Sherlock, the Lord Mayor of Galway Cllr Donal Lyons, by local senator Lorraine Higgins, and by other elected representatives and dignitaries.
The event was one of the first to take place in the new Lifecourse and Society Institute, a facility that was lauded by Minister Sherlock as “a fantastic new learning facility” on the Galway campus.
The occasion allowed charity-founder Alan Kerins to pay tribute and honour many of those who had supported him in the first decade of his organisation.
And on hand to receive such acknowledgements were Fr Dan Joe O’Mahony, whom Alan Kerins described as ‘a mentor and inspiration’, and the two Irish Presentation Sisters - Sr. Cathy Crawford and Sr. Molly Maloney, whose work The Alan Kerins Projects has been supporting in Western Zambia for the past 10 years.
Alan Kerins Projects also used the occasion to announce an exciting new partnership with Irish development organisation Gorta-Self Help Africa, which Alan said would allow them to do more work and reach more people in Zambia in the years ahead.
Gorta-Self Help Africa chairman Tom Kitt, a Galwegian and former Minister at the Dept of Foreign Affairs himself said that the organisation would achieve a lot more together, and that he looked forward to working closely with Alan and his Galway supporters in the future.
There was a large representation from across the local community at the recent 10th anniversary celebration, as well as many of the committed and dedicated volunteers who had supported the work of Alan Kerins Projects (AKP) by staging events, supporting events and by volunteering with AKP in Zambia in that time.
Thanks were also expressed to the dedicated board of directors led by chariperson Jacqui O’Grady, who had provided leadership to AKP through the years.
The forthcoming same sex marriage referendum relates to adults’ human right to marry whom they chose regardless of sexual orientation. Divisive negative issues raised in relation to children and their welfare are being used to deflect from the core question in the referendum. The position of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway and its patron is that the most essential factor for a child or adolescent is that they have a loving, consistent and caring parent or parents who cater for their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social needs. This point of view is supported by a wealth of well-respected international research.
The Centre’s position is the achievement of young people’s rights requires that their hopes and wishes for their future be realised regardless of their sexual orientation, and inclusive of their rights to marry. Despite the fact that our centre has trained young researchers with a view on this matter, it is notable that just as in the case of the Children’s Referendum in 2013, the voice and opinion of young people is in the main absent in the discourse, despite adults purporting to represent their interests.
Professor Pat Dolan, Director
Cillian Murphy, Patron
The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway
Irish Times Article
On the 20th of February 2015, Mairead McGuinness MEP Brussels met with Eileen Lauster of the Responding to Child to Parent Violence (RCPV) Project at the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and with other researchers at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society to talk about the RCPV project and the work and aims of the Institute.
Mairead is a Vice-President of the European Parliament and was also appointed Children's Rights Mediator. Pierce and Sinead from the Centre for Disability Law and Policy (CDLP) were able to attend the meeting and Emily O'Donnell in the UNESCO CFRC gave a very informative tour of the facility on the day. Pictured L-R are: Piers Gooding (Research Associate, CDLP); Eileen Lauster (RCPV Project); Mairead McGuinness; Sinéad Keogh (Post-Doctoral Researcher, CDLP)
Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova meets UNESCO Chairs in Paris
UNESCO Chairs, Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement at NUI Galway and Professor Mark Brennan, UNESCO Chair in Community, Leadership, and Youth Development at Pennsylvania State University updated the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova on recent activities of a Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Children, Youth and Community and planned engagement in the 9th UNESCO Youth Forum taking place in November 2015, as an integral part of the 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference.
Pictured (L-R) are: Professor Mark Brennan, Ms Irina Bokova, Professor Pat Dolan.
Advancing Best Practices in Child Abuse and Neglect: A Multi-Disciplinary Perspective, 22nd Jan 2015
Pictured (L-R) are: Dr. Declan Coogan, Lecturer in MA Social Work at NUI Galway; Colm Dempsey, current Acting-Chair of the Irish branch of BASPCAN; Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, the State Special Rapporteur on Child Protection; Dr. Joanne Nelson, the Clinical Director of the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service HSE West, Professor Caroline McGregor, Director of MA in Social Work programme at NUI Galway, Joseph Mooney, Doctoral Researcher with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.
This was the third in a series of national events to launch the Irish Branch of BASPCAN to the Western seaboard region. Other events included the national launch held at Trinity College on April 11th, 2014 opened by Dr. John Devany OBE, Queens University Belfast, and a regional launch in the south of Ireland held at the Bessborough Centre on September 26th, 2014.
BASPCAN, the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect was founded in the UK in 1979 and is a registered charity which aims to prevent physical, emotional and sexual abuse and neglect of children by promoting the physical, emotional, and social well-being of children (www.baspcan.org.uk).
The launch of an Irish branch of BASPCAN aims to bring together professionals, academics, voluntary, NGO and State organisations with a view to raising awareness of child abuse and neglect and also to create a multi-disciplinary environment in which the current and lasting issues in this area can be debated and discussed.
The regional launch in Galway presented the latest research, policy and frontline experience from Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, the State Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Dr. Joanne Nelson, the Clinical Director of the Child and Adolescent Sexual Assault Treatment Service HSE West, and Professor Caroline McGregor, Director of the MA in Social Work programme at NUI Galway.
The event was organised by Colm Dempsey, current Acting-Chair of the Irish branch of BASPCAN, Dr. Declan Coogan, Lecturer at NUI Galway, and Joseph Mooney, Doctoral Researcher with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway. The event was kindly supported by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and the Institute for Life Course and Society, NUI Galway. The event was free of charge and was open to all interested parties.