International Peer-to-Peer conference hosted by DERI Galway

International Peer-to-Peer conference hosted by DERI Galway-image

Monday, 24 September 2007

NUI Galway s Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) recently hosted the 7th International Peer-to-Peer Conference which was attended by over 100 researchers and experts from industry. Peer-to-peer (P2P) technology has come into the limelight recently with applications like Skype and collaboration applications like Groove. These applications critically depend on peer-to-peer technology which enables global scalability and robustness against failures at much lower costs than traditional data centre solutions as an application can make use of the computing resources of all participants. The next stage in its development will see the application of semantics to P2P technologies which will enable more effective inter-business communication and personal collaboration. The International Peer-to-Peer Conference is the flagship conference gathering for leading international experts from both academia and industry. High profile speakers at this year s conference included: Dr Sandeep K. Singhal, Director Windows Networking, Microsoft Corporation, who gave a tutorial on the Peer-to-Peer and Collaboration Platform used in Microsoft s Windows operating system; Dr Wolfgang Kellerer, Senior Manager Future Networking Lab, NTT DoCoMo Euro-Labs, whose keynote speech addressed The Bright Future of P2P: a Telecom Operator s Perspective; and Prof Karl Aberer, Director of the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research - Mobile Information and Communication Systems, who discussed how P2P can be used to improve search engines. The uptake of P2P technologies by companies such as Microsoft and Skype clearly shows the relevance of P2P technology for modern software development. This significance is further emphasised by the sponsorship of the P2P conference by local industry including Cisco, Nortel and Storm Technologies. Local industry can benefit from such conferences showcasing the latest scientific developments in a cutting edge technology domain by networking with leading experts in the field as well as a place to recruit engineers with the relevant skills. Professor Manfred Hauswirth, Vice Director of DERI Galway, program chair and local organiser of P2P2007, said: "Local companies sponsoring and attending the conference have the opportunity to see what these highly qualified individuals have to offer. This in turn delivers a desperately needed injection of know how given the dramatically low numbers of Irish students in the ICT area." ENDS

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President McAleese launches new research findings on health status and health ga

President McAleese launches new research findings on health status and health ga-image

Friday, 21 September 2007

7-year research findings show current state of the health of the nation President Mary McAleese recently launched a supplement to the Irish Medical Journal that includes four scientific articles based on data from the Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. The HBSC study is conducted by researchers in the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway and is led by Principal Investigator Dr Saoirse Nic Gabhainn, and funded by the Department of Health and Children. The journal launched is based on the Health Research Board funded Unit for Health Status and Health Gain and includes new Irish findings on the health of the Irish population across the life-span, and what is important for good health in all age groups. The massive project conducted by the HRB Unit involved almost 40,000 people ranging from women in early pregnancy, to children, to the elderly and was carried out by research groups from NUI Galway and UCD. The research cover areas such as the dietary habits of pregnant women, the increased risk of eating disorders among Irish schoolchildren, the importance of interpersonal relationships as predictors of positive health among Irish pre-teens and teenagers, and the risk factors to health in grandparents. "The social and cultural changes underway in Ireland today pose enormous challenges across a wide spectrum of state activity, in particular where the planning and delivery of health and personal social services are concerned. The findings of this report will help us deal with this rapidly changing environment," said the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. "The best way to deal with change is to prepare well and the work of this Unit will serve us well in that area.' Funding for the project was provided by the Health Research Board in 1999 in order to provide empirical evidence on the actual state of the nation's health. The findings will be used to help formulate Government strategy on health needs and to monitor changes in health expectancy among the Irish population, in line with key strategic objectives outlined by the Department of Health and Children in the 1994 policy document "Shaping a Healthier Future and the subsequent "Quality and Fairness, a Health System for You" in 2001." Before the HRB Unit was established there was very limited information available on the risk factors associated with ill health in the Irish population; particularly the social influences on those risk factors. The comprehensive research findings announced today bring together information from 12 surveys comprising 39,837 respondents across all walks of Irish life and at different life stages. It provides, for the first time, actual longitudinal evidence that will help in the planning of Irish health services into the future. The findings point to pockets of real disadvantage, especially in urban areas, and suggest that special policy effort must be made to reach the most disadvantaged groups and individuals in Irish society. Mother and child health – investment in early development As part of its work programme the Unit established a three generation family study called the "Lifeways Study" in 2001. This unique cross-generation study has over 3,500 family participants derived from 1,124 mothers who were recruited during early pregnancy. "The findings show a clear need for more concerted policy interventions by the health, education and social welfare sectors to support mothers and their families at early life stages," says Prof Cecily Kelleher, Head of the UCD School of Public Health and Population Science, who led the research of the HRB Unit for Health Status and Health Gain. "Investment at early life stages will pay great dividends in terms of future health benefits. The National Health Service in the United Kingdom has given this top priority and we also need to do so." By capturing information over a 5 year period, the 'Lifeways Study' enabled the researchers to investigate several areas of mother and child health including: dietary habits of pregnant women in Ireland; risk factor profile of grandparents; pre-pregnancy maternal body mass index and infant birth weight; and primary care utilisation rates in pre-school children. Socioeconomic differences in childhood primary care consultation rates had never before been examined in Ireland. The findings, from three years follow-up of over a thousand children show a strong inverse relationship between consultation rates in children and social class - higher utilisation rates among GMS (General Medical Service) cardholders. "The ratio of consulting rates among Irish preschool children, for GMS (General Medical Service) to paying patients, is so much lower than for adults," explains Professor Andrew Murphy, Professor of General Practice at NUI Galway, one of the principal investigators in the research. "Although consulting rates do significantly decrease with income increments, the differences are relatively small." "Policy and research perspectives suggest that all Irish pre-school children, irrespective of income level, should receive free primary care" he adds. In relation to dietary habits, the research findings show that while a reasonably high percentage of pregnant women are achieving the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables as set by the Health Promotion Unit's Healthy Eating Guidelines based on the food pyramid, less than 50% achieve the remaining daily dietary recommendations. According to the research, children of mothers with relatively higher fruit and vegetable intake and higher oily fish consumption are less likely to be effected by later childhood asthma (similar findings were produced in a recent study from the University of Crete). "These preliminary findings suggest an important new avenue for research in preventing asthma" says Professor Cecily Kelleher, Head of the UCD School of Public Health and Population Science. Peer influences and young people's health The Unit also investigated the influence of peer groups and peer relationships on the health of young school going children by analysing data from the 2002 Irish Health Behaviour of School Going Children (HBSC),"The findings suggest that by helping adolescents to build and maintain strong interpersonal relationships you are leading them to better health," says Dr Michal Molcho of NUI Galway, another of the principal investigators in the research. "The greater number of supportive relationships, the more positive the health of the adolescent." According to the study, positive supporting relationships are critically important for child health, and particularly the role of parents. "Supporting parents in their relationships with their children will help to improve the health of the child," continues Dr Molcho. The research also suggests that children who are most at risk from eating disorders are those children who are unhappy, who perceive themselves as not good looking, who have diet concerns, who are bullied more than twice per month, and feel that they are below average academically. "While it is necessary to treat eating disorders, there must be a shift in focus to prevent the onset of the disorder," says Professor Fiona McNicholas, Professor Of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, another principal investigator in the research. "Introducing social, personal and health education into schools may go some way towards improving self-image and self-esteem among Irish school children," she continues. "But health professionals also need to play a role in preventing and detecting unhealthy eating attitudes and behaviours." Area Issues, disadvantage and social capital The work of the Unit also brings together, for the first time, several surveys which have assessed the relative influence of area disadvantage and social capital: the 2002 National Survey of Lifestyle Attitudes and Nutrition (SLAN), and the 2002 and 2005 European Social Survey. "While being personally disadvantaged was the main influence on health status, the research clearly shows that this is compounded by the deterioration of social facilities and amenities in certain urban areas," says Professor Kelleher. "All things being equal, people living in rural areas and older people reported better mental health than younger people" she adds. "Policy measures to improve health in certain deprived communities are outside the specific area of health," explains Dr Michelle Millar from NUI Galway, who as part of the research programme consulted people in disadvantaged areas for their views on what was most needed to improve their quality of life. "Moves to tackle such deprivation require a more holistic policy approach," she says. "Policy makers should heed the need to avoid ghettoisation and other poverty traps," explains Professor Kelleher. Policy actions for specific groups The recent work of the HRB Unit for Health Status and Health Gain also focused on discussing the value of targeting policy actions at specific groups to improve the health status of the Irish population. These groups highlighted were: children in early childhood, women, socio-economically disadvantaged groups and older people. "Evidenced based policy drawn from research overwhelmingly supports investment in early childhood interventions," says Dr Dorren McMahon, UCD Geary Institute, commenting on the research. "Returns from early childhood investment include better outcomes in education and health, increased work productivity and reduced crime rates." "Women in less well off socio-economic groups are at the greatest disadvantage with regard to health. They are at greater risk of developing poor health," says Geraldine Luddy, Director of the Women's Health Council. At present, the health of these women is compromised by lack of education, lack of information, and lack of awareness of factors that contribute to disease. "Specific policies must be developed to target this disadvantaged group." "The principles of involvement, participation and community development are central to tackling health inequalities and current health policy reflects this," said Elaine Houlihan from the Combat Poverty Agency. "We need to increasingly involve the communities that are experiencing health inequalities in consultation and participation. This will give those individuals who are receiving the services more of a say in how they are planned and delivered." "New opportunities for older people to maximize their capabilities in economic, social and civic life should be created and supported," says Professor Eamon O'Shea, Irish Centre for Social Gerontology at NUI Galway. "Health strategies must be developed in conjunction with the older people themselves and their advocates in a genuine spirit of partnership and intergenerational solidarity. -ends-

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NUI Galway Marine Researchers Receive €9.2m in Government Awards

NUI Galway Marine Researchers Receive €9.2m in Government Awards-image

Thursday, 20 September 2007

NUI Galway marine researchers were yesterday awarded €9.2million in Dublin from the Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan T.D., and Mary Coughlan T.D., Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries & Food. The grants awarded, nearly €20 million in total, are named after Irish hydrographer Francis Beaufort, and will fund 141 researchers and students working in 5 research consortia, across 5 institutions. A consortium of research groups from National University of Ireland, Galway, University College Cork and Queens University Belfast, led by the Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute, NUI Galway, secured a substantial €7.2 million for research in Marine Biodiscovery. 80% of living organisms are found only in aquatic ecosystems, yet little is known about their biochemical characteristics. The Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery Consortium will aim to develop a leading capability in the utilisation of marine organisms and materials for the production of drugs, advanced biomaterials and neutraceuticals in Ireland. On receipt of the award Professor Michael Guiry, Director of the Martin Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: "Marine biodiscovery is a major opportunity for Ireland, particularly for the west of Ireland, which is one of the most biodiverse marine areas in the European Community, and we look forward to working with our partners in the Marine Institute in Oranmore, UCC, and Queen's University Belfast. The Government, and in particular the Departments of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources and Agriculture, Fisheries & Food have shown great foresight in funding this programme for 7 years under the SeaChange programme. Scientific innovation is indeed the key to unlocking economic success." The Centre for Rural Transformation and Sustainability at NUI Galway secured €2 million for Marine Socio-Economic Research. The Beaufort Marine Award in Socio-Economic Research will establish for the first time in Ireland's history, the research leadership and capacity required to assess and quantify the economic, social and environmental value of our significant marine resources. Professor Michael Cuddy, Director of the Centre for Rural Transformation and Sustainability at NUI Galway said: "This is a unique opportunity to address socio-economic issues important to the economic sector in Ireland which will underpin the SeaChange strategy." - ends-

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NUI Galway hosts 'Photonics Ireland 2007'

NUI Galway hosts 'Photonics Ireland 2007'-image

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Photonics Ireland 2007 is the first conference organised by the Irish Optics and Photonics Network, and will be held from September 24 to 26 at the Galway Bay Hotel, Salthill, Galway. This all-Ireland conference will have 10 scientific sessions covering most aspects of photonics research in universities and institutes of technology and will include a special Photonics Industry Session and a Poster Session. The conference organisation is led by Professor Chris Dainty, Director of the Applied Optics Group at NUI Galway. All Universities on the island are collaborating in this scientific conference, which showcases the Photonics research currently being conducted in Ireland. The conference provides an invaluable opportunity for the community of young Irish researchers in Photonics to access the knowledge and expertise of the panel of invited scientists from Ireland and from overseas, and from industry experts. Prof. Dainty said: "All photonics research groups in Ireland will be represented at the conference and the vast majority of research students and post-doctorates in photonics, as well as senior researchers are attending. The response to-date has been overwhelming with nearly 200 attendees and 170 scientific presentations". Conference topics to be addressed include: Photonic Materials Photonic Devices Nanophotonics and Plasmonics Optical Communication Systems Quantum Optics Laser Material Interactions Imaging ENDS

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Sharing knowledge on technology and business at the BarCamp "unconference"

Sharing knowledge on technology and business at the BarCamp

Monday, 17 September 2007

The 'BarCamp Galway' event will be held at the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), National University of Ireland, Galway from 10a.m. on 22nd September, 2007. BarCamp is a technology-focused, informal gathering of people from technical and business backgrounds, where information and experiences are exchanged. The event is geared towards sharing knowledge and learning from others, and there is a policy of encouraging active participation in all discussions. 'BarCamp Galway' extends from other successful Irish "unconferences", most recently in Dublin and Belfast. The term unconference is used as BarCamp allows anyone to present, and talks can be technical or non-technical. The ethos is simply about sharing information, with no overriding theme. Speakers and discussion panel members who have signed up to talk so far include: David Lenehan, PollDaddy: creator of the very popular online polling service John Collison, Auctomatic: the young Irish student who along with his brother Patrick received significant venture capital funding from Y-Combinator in Silicon Valley John Breslin, co-founder of Ireland s largest discussion community Conor O Neill, LouderVoice: editor of Blognation Ireland Ina O Murchu, DERI: writer of Galway First s TechTalk column and speaking about the Social Web The event is free and is sponsored by Microsoft, Blacknight, and If you wish to attend, simply send an e-mail to ENDS

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Science Essay Competition for Schools launched by NUI Galway and Medtronic

Science Essay Competition for Schools launched by NUI Galway and Medtronic-image

Monday, 17 September 2007

The Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) at NUI Galway has launched its national Schools' Science Essay Competition 2007. Sponsored for the third year by medical technology company Medtronic, the competition is open to all students in the senior cycle of secondary schools in Ireland. This year's essay title is Genetic Engineering: Panacea or Pandora's Box? Closing date for receipt of entries is Friday, October 26th 2007. REMEDI's Schools' Science Essay Competition was launched in 2005 to stimulate discussion among students on the ethical and societal implications of advances in biomedical research. The aim is to generate interest in science among second level students and encourage more to go on to study science at third level. Last year's competition generated a lot of interest in science issues among students, with an increase of over double the number of entries since 2005. The eventual winner was Paul Kelliher from Killorglin, Co. Kerry. Professor Tim O Brien, Director, REMEDI, explained: "The purpose of this project, as with all our secondary school initiatives, is to encourage young people to take an active interest in contemporary scientific research, and to consider a career in this field. Science communication should always be a two way process. While it is important for REMEDI personnel to publicly discuss research taking place in the areas of stem cell and gene therapy, it is equally important for our scientists to listen to the public's views on this research – and we've found 16-18 year olds are more than eager to express their views on some of the questions raised by this research." This year's essay is 'Genetic Engineering: Panacea or Pandora's Box?': As scientists advance their ability to identify, screen and manipulate genes; is gene therapy a potential panacea for the terrible illnesses we cannot cure, or a Pandora's box where genetically enhanced 'designer babies' with perfect looks and high IQs become a reality?". Winners of the competition in 2005 and 2006 were presented with their prizes at the BT Young Scientist Festival in Dublin, by Minister for Education & Science Mary Hanafin T.D. This year's competition prizes include a laptop, iPOD, crystal trophies and school prizes of science equipment bursaries. Full details of the competition rules, helpful hints and additional information on how to enter are available on the education section of the REMEDI website REMEDI is an SFI funded research institute at the National Centre for Biomedical Engineering Science located at NUI Galway. ENDS

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NUI Galway receive substantial SFI Research Funding Awards

NUI Galway receive substantial SFI Research Funding Awards-image

Thursday, 13 September 2007

NUI Galway was successful in securing four substantial SFI research grants announced recently in Dublin by Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, T.D. Professor Christopher Dainty, SFI Professor of Experimental Physics at NUI Galway was the largest award of €4.5million for research in applied optical techniques. Optics is concerned with lighting, displays such as TVs and computers, CDs and DVDs, healthcare and manufacturing but also human vision. This research will focus on improving diagnostic methods which would lead to early diagnosis of disease in the eye and prevention of blindness in old age. As individuals live longer, and the overall population ages, problems of eye disease are becoming more severe, and the need for early detection of conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma becomes more important. Optical imaging, enhanced by a technique called "adaptive optics" -- invented by astronomers to obtain better images in telescopes -- will allow doctors to make earlier diagnoses of these and other diseases of the eye. Other research areas being investigated include optical storage systems, free-space optical communication systems and lithography. Professor Dainty, on receipt of the award, said: "This renewal of our funding for the next five years reflects a vote of confidence by the international scientific community in our wide-ranging research programme. Reviewers praised our commitment to academic excellence and our focus on educating research leaders of the future". Other NUI Galway recipients included Professor Matthew Dallas Griffin, based at the Mayo Clinic, USA; Dr Thomas Ritter from the Regenerative Medicine Institute; and Dr Stephen Rea, who received one of four President of Ireland Young Researcher Awards (PIYRA) 2007. Professor Nicholas Canny, Vice President of Research at NUI Galway offered his congratulations to all of these recipients of SFI awards which have brought distinction to themselves and to NUI Galway. He added, "Their research will contribute to the enrichment of the community through the advancement of knowledge and the application of that knowledge to industry." SFI, the national foundation for excellence in scientific research, invests in academic researchers and research teams who are most likely to generate new knowledge, leading edge technologies, and competitive enterprises. SFI has responsibility for investment of €1.4bn under the current National Development Plan and the Strategy for Science, Technology & Innovation up to the year 2013. - ENDS -

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President McAleese to launch Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway

President McAleese to launch Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway-image

Friday, 7 September 2007

Centre to be results-focused on solving pressing child and family issues in Irish society President Mary McAleese will launch the Child and Family Research Centre (CFRC) at the National University of Ireland, Galway today, Friday, 7 September, 2007. The Centre aims to improve outcomes for children and their families, and advance practice and policy in Ireland and internationally, through research, evaluation and service development. According to Dr Pat Dolan, Director of the Child and Family Research Centre, there is a need for more research that focuses on finding ways to support children and families in crises and prior to the escalation of problems. He said: "While social difficulties such as child poverty, youth suicide and violence within families are often brought to public attention, solutions to these problems are neither highlighted nor adequately shared among interested stakeholders, including families themselves". This launch is timely as the Centre expands its' capacity to work directly with policy makers and frontline child welfare professionals such as social workers, teachers and community youth workers in response to the increasing demand for services that deliver the best outcomes for children and families. Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President, NUI Galway welcomed the establishment of the Centre: "This unique partnership between the University and the HSE, and supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies, will, through its research and teaching outputs, have a direct impact on improving the quality of life for children and families in Ireland. It marks the continuing development of world-class research and social science policy centres on our campus." In 2007 the Child and Family Research Centre was awarded significant support from The Atlantic Philanthropies Ireland under its Disadvantaged Children and Youth Programme which aims for better health and life outcomes for young people experiencing adversity. Over the next five to ten years the CFRC will become a leading centre of excellence, with over 20 full-time staff and PhD students and an international visiting faculty programme. ENDS

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An tUachtarán Mhic Giolla Íosa leis an Ionad Taighde um Leanaí agus Teaghlaigh i

An tUachtarán Mhic Giolla Íosa leis an Ionad Taighde um Leanaí agus Teaghlaigh i-image

Friday, 7 September 2007

Is é a bheidh mar aidhm ag an Ionad seo ceisteanna tábhachtacha maidir le leanaí agus teaghlaigh i sochaí na hÉireann a réiteach agus a chinntiú go mbeidh torthaí a gcuid oibre le feiceáil Seolfaidh an tUachtarán Máire Mhic Giolla Íosa an tIonad Taighde um Leanaí agus Teaghlaigh (CRFC) in Ollscoil na hÉireann, Gaillimh, inniu, Dé hAoine, an 7 Meán Fómhair 2007. Tá sé mar aidhm ag an Ionad saol leanaí agus a dteaghlaigh a fheabhsú, agus cleachtas agus beartas a chur chun cinn in Éirinn agus go hidirnáisiúnta, trí thaighde, trí mheasúnacht agus trí fhorbairt seirbhíse. Dúirt an Dr Pat Dolan, Stiúrthóir an Ionaid Taighde um Leanaí agus Teaghlaigh, go bhfuil gá le tuilleadh taighde atá dírithe ar bhealaí a aimsiú chun tacú le leanaí agus le teaghlaigh atá i ngéarchéim sula dtéann na fadhbanna atá acu i ndonas. Dúirt sé: "Cé go dtarraingítear aird an phobail ar dheacrachtaí sóisialta cosúil le bochtaineacht i measc leanaí, féinmharú i measc na n-óg agus foréigean i measc teaghlach, ní tharraingítear aird ar bith ar dheacrachtaí a réiteach agus ní chuirtear na réitigh seo in iúl do pháirtithe leasmhara, na teaghlaigh féin san áireamh". Tá an seoladh seo ag tarlú ag tráth a bhfuil forbairt ag teacht ar acmhainn an Ionaid oibriú go díreach le lucht déanta beartais agus príomhghairmithe cúraim leanaí cosúil le hoibrithe sóisialta, múinteoirí agus oibrithe pobail don aos óg, mar fhreagairt ar an éileamh atá ann do sheirbhísí a chinntíonn na torthaí is fearr do leanaí agus do theaghlaigh. D'fháiltigh an Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, Uachtarán, OÉ Gaillimh roimh bhunú an Ionaid agus an méid seo a leanas á rá aige: "Beidh tionchar díreach ag an gcomhpháirtíocht speisialta seo idir an Ollscoil agus Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte, le tacaíocht ó Atlantic Philanthropies Ireland, ar cháilíocht beatha leanaí agus teaghlach in Éirinn trí thorthaí taighde agus teagaisc. Léargas eile fós é bunú an Ionaid seo ar an bhforbairt leanúnach atá ar siúl againn maidir le hionaid taighde agus beartais eolaíochta sóisialta den scoth a fhorbairt ar ár gcampas." In 2007, bhronn The Atlantic Philanthropies Ireland tacaíocht shuntasach ar an Ionad Taighde um Leanaí agus Teaghlaigh faoi Chlár na Leanaí faoi Mhíbhuntáiste agus na nÓg. Is é atá mar aidhm leis an gclár seo sláinte agus saol níos fearr a chinntiú do dhaoine óga a bhfuil deacrachtaí áirithe le sárú acu. Sna cúig go deich mbliana amach romhainn forbrófar an CFRC mar ionad feabhais. Beidh breis agus 20 comhalta foirne lánaimseartha agus mic léinn PhD, mar aon le clár cuairte dáimhe idirnáisiúnta san Ionad. CRÍOCH

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Community Engagement Gains Award for NUI Galway Italian Course

Community Engagement Gains Award for NUI Galway Italian Course-image

Monday, 3 September 2007

One of the most recent service learning programmes to come on stream at NUI Galway has been awarded a prestigious European Award for Languages. The award-winning module 'Service Learning in Italian' sees third and fourth year students in the Arts Faculty teach Italian in local primary schools as part of their course. The European Award for Languages (also known as the Language Label) recognises creativity and innovation in improving the quality of language learning and teaching. Through the 'Service Learning in Italian' module, primary schools gain access supported language classes without requiring them to find extra funding or resources. Meanwhile, third-level students have an opportunity to practice their language and teaching skills, supporting wider links between the university and the community. Service learning is a relatively new phenomenon at third-level in Ireland, but has been well established in the US for many years. Rather than traditional lectures or university classes, the learning process happens through working with the wider community on a project or issue that links to the students' degree subject area. NUI Galway, with the support of its Community Knowledge Initiative, now has over a dozen courses with this specific civic dimension. Service learning is neither volunteering nor work-placement, but is a distinct approach to teaching and learning that is designed to be academically robust whilst also linked to community needs. The teaching method was first piloted at NUI Galway three years ago with Nursing students who worked in an AIDS hospice in Zambia and a hospital in Belize; and with Bio-medical and Mechanical Engineering students who developed a range of innovative tools and resources for disabled, elderly and others facing particular challenges in daily life. A range of service-learning modules are now available across faculties at the University. Dr. Anne O'Connor of the Italian Department at NUI Galway, who coordinated the 'Service Learning in Italian' pilot programme, commented, "We are thrilled to receive a European Award for Languages 2007. Our new module aims to foster positive attitudes towards language learning for all involved, both primary and third-level students. The module also develops links with the community, giving students the opportunity to exercise social responsibility. Primary school children who participate, range from ages six to ten and are taught in an interactive and enjoyable way." The European Award for Languages is coordinated by the European Commission and managed on a decentralised basis by each member state. The award is managed in Ireland by Léargas. The award will be presented at a special ceremony in Dublin on 26 September European Day of Languages. ENDS

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