Applied Social Sciences and Public Policy

Sub-themes in this priority research area:

  • Lifecourse & Independent Living
  • Environmental Sustainability & Development
  • Business and Manufacturing Competitiveness
  • Innovation, Creativity & the Smart Economy
  • Law and Human Rights
  • Equality, Identity, Gender & Culture
  • Education
  • Society & Politics

Focused around the Institute for Business, Social Sciences and Public Policy and the Life Course Institute, NUI Galway is committed to building a foundation of knowledge to drive innovation and the understanding of social entrepreneurial strategies.

Here are some highlights in this area:

Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change

app social sc image 1

The Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change is a national multi-disciplinary research Institute focused on building an internationally-recognised programme of research. The Institute fosters a culture of research excellence by bringing together scholastic strengths from the College of Business, Public Policy and Law and the College of Arts, Social Sciences, and Celtic Studies, and also facilitates supports and enhances existing and emerging collaborative research interactions nationally and internationally.

The Institute’s priority research themes are of national and international importance, and our research has made significant contributions to the advancement of new knowledge and to policy and practice in business and society. Our scholars are pursuing research that is at the cutting edge of the business and social science agenda and their research outputs includes peer reviewed journal articles, monographs, book chapters and policy reports. They are actively involved in national and international research networks and collaborations that form a multi-faceted and dynamic learning environment. 


The Institute’s priority research areas are drawn from the research strengths across nine Schools and twenty disciplines areas in business and social sciences. This scale and scope of research activities creates a vibrant research environment that provides PhD students and graduates the opportunity to engage with leading international scholars and a wide range of regional, national and international stakeholders.

To compete on a global scale, there is a need for innovative and diverse thinking to address the challenges of today and tomorrow. At the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change, our research is at the frontier of understanding the drivers and impacts that shape society and business in a regional, national and international context.

New €10 million ‘Lifecourse Institute’

app social sc image 2 NUI Galway’s €10 million ‘Lifecourse Institute’, a major advance in the field of social sciences in Ireland, is impacting positively on policies for children, families, people with disabilities and older people. Comprising a multidisciplinary facility in a state-of-the-art new building, the Lifecourse Institute will integrate and enhance the work of three existing centres—the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, and the Irish Centre for Social Gerontology. Each of the three centres make an important contribution to its respective field in Ireland and internationally.

The Lifecourse Institute adds value to this existing work through collaboration across research, teaching and training programmes—while retaining each centre’s distinct identity.

The development of the Lifecourse Institute reflects a shared commitment by researchers to work towards effective change in the lives of vulnerable populations. It is hoped this will lead to improved outcomes for children, families, older people and people with disabilities by influencing policy and decision making, whether emanating from the Irish Government, the EU, or the UN.

NUI Galway awarded UNESCO Chair

NUI Galway is Ireland’s first, and only, University to be awarded a UNESCO Chair—in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement.

The Chair is hosted at the Child and Family Research Centre (CFRC)in the University’s School of Political Science and Sociology. Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the CFRC, with over 20 years experience in family support, policy and research, is the Chair holder. The Centre undertakes research, education and training in the area of Family Support and Youth Development with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention for children and young people experiencing adversity. With the support of UNESCO the Centre works on a range of international collaborations in relation to education programmes and policy initiatives. Under the UNESCO University Education Twinning and Networking Scheme, the programme of work associated with the Chair, will focus on an exchange of learning among international University partners and affiliated centres for children, which work on civic engagement programmes in countries including Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Zambia.

Ireland’s only Centre for Health Promotion

The Centre for Health Promotion Research, the only one of its kind in Ireland, was given World Health Organisation (WHO) status for its role in health promotion education and research.

The Health Promotion Research Centre produces research that supports the development of best practice and policy in promoting health. The Centre collaborates with regional, national and international agencies on the development and evaluation of health promotion strategies.

A world renowned Centre for Human Rights Law

human rights law image The Irish Centre for Human Rights is one of the world’s premier university-based institutions for the study and promotion of human rights and humanitarian law. Since its establishment in January 2000, it has developed a global reputation for excellence in the field of human rights teaching, research and advocacy.

Such a reputation has enabled the Centre to attract high quality students to its acclaimed masters programmes and to build a thriving community of doctoral researchers.

The diverse and widely acclaimed Masters programmes form the traditional core of the academic life at the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Since its foundation, the Centre has seen a constant and ever-increasing stream of students, committed to the philosophy and practical outcomes of the human rights movement. They have come from diverse cultural, educational, experiential backgrounds and from a broad range of countries including: Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Rwanda, Russia, South Africa, Spain, the USA, and Zimbabwe. The excellence of the teaching faculty of the Centre and the general atmosphere created, of conviviality and shared pursuit, encourages a high level of achievement, and as such there is no shortage of past graduates and current students of whom the Centre can be very proud.

Learn more

Postgraduate videos

Video tile not CSS PG ‌‌