Ireland's first UNESCO Chair appointed at NUI Galway

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

A UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement has been established at NUI Galway. The first UNESCO Chair awarded in the Republic of Ireland, the Chair will be hosted at the Child and Family Research Centre in the University's School of Political Science and Sociology. Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, with over 20 years experience in family support frontline work, policy and research, has been appointed as the Chairholder. Professor Dolan commented: "It is an honour and a challenge to take a lead role in exploring civic engagement in young people as a method for mobilising children's rights and addressing needs in Ireland and across the world". The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme was launched in 1992 to advance research, training and programme development in higher education by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through transfer of knowledge across borders. Today 617 UNESCO Chairs and 60 UNITWIN Networks have been established within the Programme, involving over 740 institutions in 125 countries. Funded 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. For NUI Galway, the establishment of a formal mechanism for the exchange of knowledge in the area of children, youth and civic engagement across, and between, institutions of higher education and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), will bring a new dimension to its work in this area. President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne commented: "We, at NUI Galway, are particularly honoured to be awarded the first UNESCO Chair in the Republic of Ireland. We look forward to fruitful cooperation with UNESCO and are delighted with this opportunity to enhance the University's commitment to community and civic engagement". The establishment of the UNESCO Chair builds on the Child and Family Research Centre's (CRFC) range of applied practice and high-quality research in relation to working with young people experiencing adversity. The Centre, officially launched in 2007 with significant support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, is affiliated with a range of other University centres of excellence, NGOs and civil society organisations dedicated to enhancing the welfare of, and improving opportunities for, disadvantaged children and youth. The Centre is internationally recognised for its expertise in the development and testing of educational models, such as youth mentoring that bring about improved outcomes for children. The CFRC will work with two key partners in Ireland: the Community Knowledge Initiative at NUI Galway, a forum through which the University plays a leading role in the development of civic leadership skills in students; and Foróige, Ireland's leading voluntary youth organisation providing informal education and social skills building to enable young people involve themselves in their own development and the development of society. According to Seán Campbell, CEO of Foróige: "The collaboration will add significantly to the body of knowledge on what works for helping young people develop as active citizens, particularly those dealing with difficulties in their lives".
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