Twenty new UK-Ireland research collaborations in the social sciences announced

Posted: 8 December, 2020

An innovative joint call between the Irish Research Council (IRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) – part of UK Research and Innovation – is supporting 20 new collaborations between Ireland-based and UK-based researchers who work across the breadth of the social sciences. The networking activities supported by these grants will foster the development of long-term relationships between British and Irish social science researchers, through forming new and strengthening existing relationships and enhancing the overall level of connection between the UK and Irish social science communities.

This collaborative funding programme aims to provide support for social science networking activities, with the broad objective of fostering excellent Irish-UK synergies and building bridges between these two research communities. ESRC and IRC have pledged to support 20 innovative networking projects that range in aim from mental health, children’s welfare, and public health to data protection. The budgetary contribution was equally shared by ESRC and IRC and was increased during the call to accommodate the exceptional interest in this initiative. All networking grants are due to commence in the next few months, and a full list of projects is available below. Lead researchers from eight Irish and 15 UK research organisations have been selected for funding in this highly competitive call.

The following is a selection of the collaborations announced today.

  • Dr Jennifer Ryan (RCSI) and Dr Kimberley Smith (University of Surrey) will bring together researchers, clinicians and key stakeholders to help address and reduce inequalities faced by people living with lifelong disabilities through a series of networking and development activities. Stakeholders’ perspectives (including individuals with a lifelong disability, carers, policy-makers and NGOs), collected through a public engagement project and website to identify research priorities, will facilitate them in driving this research forward via the development of the UK-Irish consortium for ageing well with a lifelong disability. Through collating perspectives and reviewing and consolidating previous research, they aim to identify and develop their research priorities at two research retreats to be held in the UK and Ireland.


  • Dr Marie Mahon (NUIG) and Professor Michael Woods (Aberystwyth University) will collaborate with social science researchers in Ireland and Wales working on selected aspects of civil society, such as renegotiating borders; rural citizenship; engaging young people; and inclusive and deliberative democracy. The project will organise workshops, virtual meetings, policy and public engagement in both countries and the development of new transnational collaborative research proposals. The main expected outputs are summary papers, policy briefings, infographics, a video and articles in academic and non-academic publications, as well as proposals for further collaborative research.


  • Dr Walt Kilroy (DCU) and Dr David Curran (Coventry University) will launch a series of workshops in Dublin, London and Durham with the intention of linking up an interdisciplinary network of scholars and policymakers to identify commonalities, differences, and models of best practice in forming and implementing concepts of ‘civilian protection’ in third-party intervention into violent conflict. They will aim to keep the concept of ‘hybridity’ at the core of the workshops, a theory which refers to the interaction between third party interveners and those who are subject to the intervention. In addition to academic outputs, the PIs envisage a number of workshop reports and a learning pack for students and scholars.


  • Dr David Meredith (Teagasc) and Professor Sally Shortall (Newcastle University) will bring together academics from a range of disciplines, policy makers and practitioners from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland to develop a future research agenda and to reframe future rural policy for the changing demands on rural space expected post-Brexit and post-Covid-19. These drivers of change will require a new research agenda to ensure transition to a just and inclusive policy and practice environment. Other than dissemination of the project’s outputs to the network’s members, PhD and postdoctoral researchers will be targeted via a dedicated webinar.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, stated: “The enthusiastic response of the social science research community to this call, in spite of the challenges and uncertainty coming with COVID19, clearly shows the quality and strategic importance of Irish and UK research ties. These new funded projects, which range from public health to international relations, demonstrate the huge potential for international and interdisciplinary synergies and the interest of researchers in UK-Ireland cooperation. I am particularly pleased to see both All-Island research cooperation and new ‘East-West’ links being cultivated. There is truly great potential for a mutually reinforcing and vibrant UK-Ireland research eco-system across the spectrum of economic and social sciences.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, Executive Chair of the ESRC, added: “I am delighted that we have been able to support a range of networking activity between UK and Irish researchers. These grants will foster greater connectivity and enduring collaboration on important, timely and shared social science research agendas.”

Through this programme we are further strengthening the fabric of cooperation and innovation between the UK and Ireland, protecting and cultivating the longstanding links between our two research communities.

Full list of UK-Ireland Social Sciences Networking Grants

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