Researchers, community organisations and Government bodies to collaborate on 56 New Foundations projects to change society for the better
Posted: 14 December, 2023
The Irish Research Council (IRC) is delighted to announce funding for 56 projects under the New Foundations scheme that are designed to reach communities across the country and beyond, focusing on diverse societal challenges. New Foundations awards help bring researchers, civic society organisations and policy makers together to enhance the evidence base for policies and practices that will have a tangible impact, locally, nationally, and internationally. The scheme enables awardees to pursue research, networking or dissemination activities within and across the diversity of disciplines.
Today’s announcement represents a total investment of €633,000. Forty-three projects are funded by the IRC to enhance research partnerships with civic society organisations. Through these partnerships with researchers, diverse community organisations will attain new evidence and insights to enhance their services and their impact.
In addition, a further thirteen projects are funded by Government departments and agencies. These address a range of themes including global north-south research development, global citizenship education and education for sustainable development, understanding the scale of social enterprise in Ireland, and exploring policing and community safety. A number of projects awarded New Foundations grants this year will see researchers leveraging new knowledge and evidence and participating in devising strategies and policies that will have measurable societal impact.
Commenting on today’s announcement, Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council stated: “The Irish Research Council is very proud of the connections that have been enabled between researchers and wider stakeholders through the many awards made under the New Foundations programme over a number of years. This year will build further on the many successful partnerships, many of which endure and continue beyond the lifetime of the specific award. The research system and the experts that work within it, in myriad disciplines, are a strategic national resource and the New Foundations scheme helps to create a vibrant cross-stakeholder community to enhance evidence and knowledge for better policy and practice. I look forward to seeing fruitful and mutually beneficial collaborations develop between the awardees and their partners in civil society organisations and government departments & agencies.
Among the new research projects that will be funded with civic society partners are:
- Dr Conor O’ Mahony (University College Cork), Child Participation in Family Court Proceedings in Ireland. Since 2012, the Irish Constitution has mandated that children’s views should be taken into account as part of family court judgements. Working with the Children’s Rights Alliance, this project will gather evidence to provide a basis for policy and law reforms to ensure child participation requirements can be best met.
- Dr Paraic Kerrigan (University College Dublin), Resisting Hate: New Foundations for Developing Safeguards and Toolkits for Public Librarians Against Reactionary Responses to LGBTQ Materials. Working with public libraries and LGBT Ireland, this project will examine the impact of censorship challenges to libraries and develop a safeguarding toolkit for public librarians in confronting and managing censorship attempts.
- Dr Nicole Gross (National College of Ireland), The promises and perils of ChatGPT AI for healthcare: A Data Justice Perspective for Ireland. This project, in collaboration with the Dublin Inner City Community Co-operative Society, explores the promises and perils of AI for Irish healthcare, in particular the power and politics issues that come with data generation, use and ownership in relation to social values and community healthcare.
The New Foundations programme call also features four strands run in partnership with Government departments and agencies. In addition to fostering the development of new evidence and insights on national and global policy themes, the strands also contribute to strengthening the connections between Government and the public research system.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is funding a project related to the National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019 – 2022:
- Dr Mary O’Shaughnessy (University College Cork), Assessing the Multidimensional Impact of Social Enterprises in Ireland. This project aims to develop a comprehensive framework for assessing the economic, social and environmental impact of social enterprise in Ireland, following the first ever National Social Enterprise Policy in 2019.
The Policing Authority is funding a project supporting evidence-based policy and strategies in relation to policing and community safety:
- Prof Colum Dunne (University of Limerick), ‘Hidden Voices’: a research-led collaborative network to elicit marginalised community perspectives regarding community safety challenges in Ireland. The project will work with marginalised communities, from people with intellectual disabilities to asylum seekers, to answer questions of how to build “community safety”, including in relation to An Garda Síochána.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (Irish Aid) is funding four awards under the ‘A Better World’ strand, aiming to support consortia for global north-south research partnerships, including:
- Dr Áine Travers (Dublin City University), Developing a research network to prevent and respond to partner violence in Ugandan refugee settlements. Uganda currently hosts over 1.5 million refugees, more than 80% of whom are women and children. Displaced women experience a greater risk of gender-based violence, including violence perpetrated by intimate partners. This project, collaborating with Makerere University, will develop new strategies to prevent and respond to such violence in Ugandan refugee settlements.
- Dr Edward Lahiff (University College Cork), Building capacity in civil society and local communities for sustainable rural development in Vietnam, in the context of the EU-Vietnam Trade Agreement and Investment Protection Agreement. Following the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement of 2020, which creates opportunities in areas such as coffee, timber and food products, this project engages with NGOs to understand their role and lay the foundation for further linkages between Vietnamese and Irish researchers and grassroots organisations.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (Irish Aid), the Department of Education and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth are co-funding seven awards, to support implementation of the Irish Aid Global Citizenship Education Strategy and the National Strategy on Education for Sustainable Development, including:
- Dr Marija Mojicevic (Technological University of the Shannon), Tackling plastic pollution and climate change through education. This project will work with several schools to investigate and improve children’s knowledge on plastic pollution and solutions.
- Dr Jolanta Burke (Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, University of Medical and Health Sciences), Greening Your Mind Challenge: Integrating environmental and wellbeing interventions for school. Through focusing on children’s water usage in schools, this project will promote sustainability, foster a sense of global citizenship among schoolchildren, and promote positive mental health.
- Dr Ashling Bourke (Dublin City University), CC-EASE: Climate Change Education for Action, Sustainability, and Empowerment, focusing on the aspects of climate change education that alleviate the impacts of climate change on youth mental health.
Further information about the New Foundations scheme is available here.