Sustainable development is the key aspiration for the 21st century and incorporates issues of governance, democracy and citizenship and political participation. The study of governance processes and socio-economic and cultural levers for sustainable development are a main research focus within the School of Political Science and Sociology at NUI, Galway.

The conceptual orientations of this research group centre on the meanings and measurement of political, social and cultural dimensions of sustainability. Questions of (in)equality and (in)justice are central to the sustainability agenda and their social scientific investigation forms a focal point of this core research area. Political scientists and sociologists involved in this group are engaged in interdisciplinary and collaborative research that connects theoretical and empirical concerns through problem- and evidence-based approaches. Researchers within this group are currently contributing to national and international research projects and networks and have extensive experience in research planning and management and fourth level supervision.


For further information on current and future research activities of this group, key publications and fourth level research opportunities please contact the convenor:

Dr Mike Hynes,
Room 323, Floor 2, Áras Moyola,
NUI, Galway
Telephone number: 353 (0)91 495104
Email: mike.hynes@nuigalway.ie

Cluster Themes

The Governance and Sustainable Development research group offers expertise and supervisory capacity in the following areas:

  • Environmental Policy
  • Sustainable Development
  • Risk and Regulation
  • Community Politics and Rural Governance
  • Alternative Development and Citizenship
  • Participatory Development and Natural Resources
  • Mobilities

Future Directions

Recent changes in research funding and graduate training have moved the organisation of research activities towards greater interdisciplinary collaboration. The School’s strengths in the thematic area of Governance and Sustainable Development will be further enhanced through more active collaboration with research partners in Ireland and abroad. Existing connections with environmental research institutes and political science and sociology departments involved in governance and sustainability research will be strengthened to take advantage of national and international funding opportunities.

The thematic grouping and clearly defined research specialisation are conducive to preparing large-scale funding applications (e.g. PRTLI, EPA, EU Framework Plans) and will attract interest from international students who wish to conduct PhD research in NUI, Galway. Future research across this thematic grouping will make a significant contribution to the production and dissemination of social scientific knowledge on political, social and cultural dimensions of sustainable development and contribute to the critical debate on sustainability

Cluster Projects

The Fishers’ Knowledge Project

€329,000 Euro project (2008 to 2011). This project is centred on an interview based approach to uncovering Fishers' Knowledge, which it is argued can be of vital use for environmental management and in manner consistent with sustainable fishing practices. The project is mainly focused on methodological issues inherent in the question of Fisher's knowledge and to date two cases studies have been identified; The Aran Prawn fishery and the Celtic Sea Cod fishery.

Consumption, Environment and Sustainability (ConsEnSus)

This collaborative research project involving Trinity College Dublin (Lead organisation) and National University of Ireland, Galway, examines four key areas of household consumption that currently impact negatively on the environment and inhibit our ability, both in Northern Ireland and the Republic, to achieve sustainable development: transport, energy, water and food. A set of 7 integrated work packages address four key themes: how consumption can be measured and evaluated; how sustainable behaviours and incentives are being developed and implemented; identifying links between consumption, health and wellbeing; and finally how matters of household consumption are being governed through institutional practice and participation. Duration: 4 years (2009-2012), large scale (> €1m; Political Science and Sociology (NUIG) partner budget: €208,000).

Project Website: http://www.consensus.ie/

Cluster Members

Henrike Rau

Lecturer and Cluster Leader The socio-cultural and environmental consequences of increased physical mobility, alternative modes of transport (including virtual mobility tools) and sustainable transport in urban and rural areas. Other research interests include sustainability research in the social sciences, social research methods, cultural diversity and cross-cultural research. 

Chris Curtin


Head of School Agrarian Politics; Community Development; Mexican Politics; Governance and Natural Resource Development and Social Networks and Family and Neighbourhood Resilience

Brendan Flynn

Lecturer Environmental policy, with a focus on EU and Irish developments; Interactions between agriculture, fisheries and environmental policies

Su-ming Khoo

Lecturer Contested meanings of development and globalization; development alternatives from the perspectives of sustainability, rights and citizenship; the right to development and right to health; global citizenship, public advocacy and public goods; development education and the globalization(s) of higher education.  

Brian McGrath

Lecturer Cultural traditions and development; Migration; Rural Society and Change; Children/Young people and

Social Support; Intergenerational Relationships; and Community Governance.

Tony Varley

Senior Lecturer Populism and local development in Ireland, the smallholder question in Ireland, the community movement, Muintir na Tire.