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New research project brings hope to eight million children unnecessarily placed in the world’s orphanages

New research project brings hope to eight million children unnecessarily placed in the world’s orphanages -image

Thursday, 2 July 2015

A new research partnership between J.K. Rowling’s international children’s organisation Lumos and a world-renowned Irish university will increase global momentum to transform the lives of children living separated from their families in orphanages. An estimated eight million children worldwide live in institutions and so-called orphanages, though at least 80% have living parents, most of who could look after them with some support. Research by the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at the National University of Ireland Galway, with Lumos, will aim to increase global understanding of why so many children are separated from families and placed in orphanages in different regions of the world, evaluate methods of deinstitutionalisation, and investigate the best ways to support families to stay together. Eighty years of scientific research has shown that children are best raised in families and that growing up in institutional care – deprived of the close, sustained adult engagement they receive in a family - has a negative impact on children’s physical, intellectual and emotional development. The European Union, the US Government and a number of international aid donors are committed to ending institutionalisation. While the science is consistent, further research is needed to gain a fuller understanding of the causes of institutionalisation and long-term solutions. Lumos and National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) share common goals including finding practical, cost-effective and sustainable ways to support families and children - particularly those who are very poor, disabled or from minorities - to stay together in the community; and empowering children and families to play a meaningful role in changing attitudes and practices. Lumos – which was recently selected as the winner of the 2015 UK Charity Awards - is dedicated to ending the institutionalisation of children worldwide by 2050. The non-profit organisation has a track record in demonstrating that most children can be reunited with families given the right support. Lumos is helping Moldova, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic to replace models of care based on institutions with education, health and social services to support vulnerable families to stay together in the community. It is also working in Ukraine, Serbia and Haiti. Meanwhile, the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway is at the forefront of research, education and training in family support and youth development. It is the hub of an international network of universities, centres of excellence and agencies in the children and youth field. The research partnership will: Monitor the impact of moving from institutions to family based care on children and young people as they grow up in terms of health, quality to life and future chances; Evaluate ten years of Lumos’ work in its programme countries; Identify best practice for achieving the deinstitutionalisation of children across different regions of the world; Explore the cost-benefit in different regions of the world of replacing institutions with community based services; Develop models for advancing the work of Lumos in new regions around the world such as South East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Thanks to a generous grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies, the partnership will start its activities by establishing links and learning opportunities between Irish examples of best practice, much of it also supported by Atlantic, and governments and practitioners in countries in the process of reforming systems of care and protection of children. Lumos CEO Georgette Mulheir – a pioneer over 20 years of a deinstitutionalisation model adopted by many governments, and named last year as one of the world’s most influential social workers – said: “Our mission is to help eight million children in institutions by promoting large-scale reform through our influence on governments and major international aid donors. We need compelling evidence to achieve the greatest impact. We are delighted to work with NUI Galway, which will bring world-leading independent academic rigour to our programmes – as well as an understanding of what works in practice to gain the best outcomes for children.” The UNESCO Chair Professor Pat Dolan, NUI Galway, will work with UNESCO Chair Professor Mark Brennan at Pennsylvania State University in the US on the Lumos project. Professor Dolan said: “The prospect of completing usable real-world research that helps to end the institutionalisation of children and youth globally, will be particularly fitting not only for UNESCO, and our research centre in NUI Galway, but for Ireland as a country given its sad and horrific past track record in relation to children in large orphanages."  -ends-

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European Cinema Research Forum Conference 2015

European Cinema Research Forum Conference 2015-image

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The annual conference of the European Cinema Research Forum will be held at the Huston School of Film and Digital Media, NUI Galway from 7-8 July. Now in its fifteenth year, the European Cinema Research Forum gathers together academics and practitioners from across the continent and beyond to discuss and debate issues relating to the diverse range of films produced within Europe. The theme of this year’s conference is ‘The representation of space and place in European film’. It will address a wide range of topics, from the depiction of Paris in the films of French filmmaking great Jean Renoir to the representation of home in contemporary Turkish cinema. A number of papers will focus on contemporary Irish cinema, while the conference also includes several film practitioners who will be discussing their own work as it relates to the topics of debate. Dr Conn Holohan, Lecturer in Film at NUI Galway’s Huston School of Film and Digital Media, said: “The advantage of a conference such as this is that it brings together researchers from across a range of departments and from wide range of backgrounds in terms of expertise and interest. Participants largely come from film backgrounds, but the conference also attracts speakers from language and literature departments across Europe and the United States, all of whom bring different geographical and conceptual perspectives to the discussion of European film.” Keynote speakers at this year’s conference are Professor Thomas Elsaesser and film scholar and artist Professor Victor Burgin. With his 2005 publication, European Cinema: Face to Face with Hollywood,Professor Elsaesser explored the significance and viability of a distinct European cinema in an age of cultural globalisation. His talk will directly address the arguments raised in this book and extend them into a contemporary era in which European cinema has increasingly become absorbed into the generic category of ‘world cinema’. Professor Victor Burgin is a renowned theorist of the still and moving image, as well as a highly influential artist whose works have been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Tate Modern in London. Professor Burgin will be discussing the intersection of his theory and practice in conversation with Professor Ryan Bishop. The programme will also include a projection of Burgin’s digital projection works A Place to Read and Parzival. -Ends-  

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Blackstone Charitable Foundation Announce Global Expansion Entrepreneurship Programme Blackstone LaunchPad to Ireland

Blackstone Charitable Foundation Announce Global Expansion Entrepreneurship Programme Blackstone LaunchPad to Ireland-image

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Blackstone Charitable Foundation today announced the first international expansion of its campus entrepreneurship programme, Blackstone LaunchPad, to Ireland. Ireland becomes the seventh Blackstone LaunchPad region and its first international one, after Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Montana, and California. The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s three-year, €2 million grant will establish a partnership between National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin, and University College Cork to introduce entrepreneurship as a viable career option and provide over 50,000 students, regardless of major, with a network of venture coaches and an entrepreneurial support system.  The announcement event at Trinity College Dublin was attended by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D., who delivered remarks, and United States Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley, University College Cork President Dr Michael Murphy, Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, and Professor Linda Hogan, Vice-Provost and Chief Academic Officer and Deputy President of Trinity College Dublin. Blackstone LaunchPad in Ireland will connect the university campuses, the business community, and local entrepreneurs to create an environment that nurtures students and provides them with the skills and network necessary to succeed as entrepreneurs. With a physical presence on each university campus and access to the Blackstone LaunchPad Global Network Technology Platform, the programme has the potential to generate some 1,500 new ventures and 3,700 new jobs across Ireland over the next five years.  Welcoming the announcement, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D., said, “In rebuilding our economy we are promoting policies that support enterprise and job creation across a range of different sectors.  It is our goal that this balanced recovery will lead to sustainable full employment by 2018.  To achieve this vision, we need to embrace the entrepreneurial instincts of students in Irish universities - for them to ask not, ‘what company do I want to work for?’ but, ‘what company do I want to create?’ “The Blackstone LaunchPad programme will foster an entrepreneurial mind-set in students across the country and equip the entrepreneurs of today with the expertise to become the employers of tomorrow.  Very importantly, this programme supports, encourages and enables our most driven young people to build their futures and pursue innovation in Ireland.  The future of business development and international investment in Ireland is closely related to our international links with the world and I am proud that Ireland was chosen as the first global expansion of this highly successful programme.” “Ireland’s young people are driven, curious, and innovative thinkers – all qualities necessary to be successful entrepreneurs,” said Blackstone’s Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder Stephen A. Schwarzman. “Blackstone LaunchPad will enable these students to develop entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, and build strong enterprises rooted in Ireland, and further strengthen economic activity across the country.”  Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway President, said: “We want our students to participate in this type of activity, so that they learn prior to graduation the potential they have and gain the confidence to go out into the world to shape their own futures. At NUI Galway we have a thriving ecosystem of student innovation and entrepreneurship.   Through the Blackstone LaunchPad program our students will now have access to an even more powerful international network, based on this national partnership between our three universities.  I’m delighted to acknowledge the vision and funding of Blackstone Charitable Foundation, with support from Galway University Foundation, to ensure that our students will develop their capacity for innovation and become the entrepreneurs of the future.” Blackstone LaunchPad is modelled after a successful programme developed at the University of Miami in 2008, which has generated 6,000 ventures and drawn over 10,000 participants since its establishment. Each regional programme established through the Blackstone Charitable Foundation is linked, drawing ideas and best practices from across 15 campuses, giving student entrepreneurs in Ireland access to an international community of over 350,000 of their peers and expert advisers.  Funding for this programme is made possible through The Blackstone Charitable Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Initiative, which seeks to support the development of ecosystems for aspiring entrepreneurs creating the high-growth ventures that are known to spark economic growth. Due to the early success of Blackstone LaunchPad following its implementation in Michigan, The Blackstone Charitable Foundation was recognized by President Obama’s “Startup America” Initiative and pledged to expand the programme to five new regions over five years. That pledge was fulfilled by the program’s earlier expansion to California. -Ends-

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PhD Students Graduate from NUI Galway’s Partnership with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)

PhD Students Graduate from NUI Galway’s Partnership with International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)-image

Monday, 29 June 2015

Recent crop research in Africa by NUI Galway PhD researchers has had a specific focus on food security and today sees the announcement of the first PhD graduates from an Africa-Ireland collaborative programme. Through a research and training partnership between NUI Galway and the world leading non-profit research organisation the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), advances have been made that contribute to global efforts to improve crop productivity, nutritional quality and resilience. IITA is one of the world’s leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. The first PhD Scholars have now graduated from the IITA-NUI Galway PhD Scholars programme. Over the past four years the three scholars have undergone a collaborative training programme and have been conducting their crop research between NUI Galway and IITA research stations in Kenya and Nigeria. The three PhD Scholars have each researched a particular challenge relating to three important staple crops, and have each made significant advances in their field:  Maize: Dr Girum Azmach  from Ethiopia has been conducting his PhD research, funded by Irish Aid, on developing more nutritious maize varieties that contain higher levels of vitamin A. Such biofortified crops are being developed by IITA and global partners to combat ‘hidden hunger’ malnutrition amongst the rural poor. Dr Azmach has returned to Ethiopia to contribute to the national maize breeding programme.    Bananas: Dr Mercy Kitavi  from Kenya focused her PhD research, also funded by Irish Aid, on East African Highland bananas, a staple crop of smallholder farmers in the Great Lakes region of sub-Saharan Africa. The research has revealed that all varieties of East African Highland bananas lack genetic diversity and are at high risk of being wiped out by new strains of the deadly banana wilt fungus. Dr Kitavi now works on capacity building in East Africa for sweet potato research.  ‌‌ Yams: Dr Gezahegn Tessema  from Ethiopia has been conducting his PhD research, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on understanding genetic diversity of yams, which are an important staple crop in Africa. The research has improved understanding of how yam genetic diversity can be better harnessed in breeding programs to make more resilient and productive yams to meet future challenges such as climate change. Dr. Tessema is currently working with IITA on developing improved cassava varieties for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. The research of the three IITA-NUI Galway PhD Scholars was co-supervised by Professor Charles Spillane of the Plant and AgriBiosciences Research Center (PABC) at NUI Galway and the world-leading IITA scientists Dr Abebe Menkir, Dr Melaku Gedil, Dr Jim Lorenzen and Dr Morag Ferguson. Professor Spillane commented: “The innovative crop research work of these three IITA-NUI Galway PhD scholars contributes significantly to the broader goals of IITA, NUI Galway’s PABC and Irish Aid, of conducting agricultural research for improving food security and nutrition in developing countries, particularly in Africa”. -ends-

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New Initiative will Increase Industry Focus of Engineering and Informatics Degree Programmes

New Initiative will Increase Industry Focus of Engineering and Informatics Degree Programmes-image

Monday, 29 June 2015

In a significant development for engineering education, following extensive consultation with industry partners, NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics has announced that the duration of the Professional Experience Programme (PEP) will be extended to eight months. The PEP involves students acquiring professional experience in their chosen speciality and will be applicable for the Bachelor of Engineering (BE) in Energy Systems Engineering, BE Electrical and Electronic Engineering, BE Electronic and Computer Engineering and BSc Computer Science and Information Technology degree programmes. This follows the successful implementation of the longer placement in the BE Mechanical Engineering and BE Biomedical Engineering. Students will now undertake work-placement in leading local, national and international high-technology companies from January to August, starting in 2016. NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics has very strong links with industry, both nationally and internationally, and the decision to extend the duration of PEP was made in response to the growing demand from industry for longer work-placement, providing students with a broader range of industry-relevant skills and dramatically increasing their employability upon graduation. Increasing the duration of the work placement has been well received by companies. It affords students the opportunity to get involved deeper in the work they perform while on placement. Employers benefit by having a skilled student with them for longer which means that they can get students involved in larger projects and give them more responsibility. The PEP work-placement has been an integral part of these degree programmes for over twenty years. Commonly, upon completion of the PEP work-placement, students will continue to collaborate with their PEP employer through the industry-led research performed in their fourth year project. Speaking about the announcement Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway President, said: “This is a very positive development for our students, as well as for employers and ultimately the Irish economy. By enhancing the practical learning experience which our students gain through structured work placements, we help to give them a competitive edge in the jobs market and boost their employability. In addition, having a student on work placement can be a real advantage to companies, particularly small enterprises, who can develop new opportunities within their business through research projects and other initiatives.” Professor Gerry Lyons, Dean of NUI Galway’s College of Engineering and Informatics, said: “Our graduates are distinguished by their ability to adpat quickly to the professional work environment, wherever they work. Integrated workplace learning is a central feature of our undergraduate programmes in Engineering and Computing. Students have the opportunity to get significant work experience on an extended eight month PEP. While on PEP, the students also take online professional skill modules, delivered by the College. This enables us to enhance the professional work readiness of graduates, and allows our industry partners to participate directly in the training and evaluation of PEP students.” Companies that are interested in finding out more information in relation to the PEP can contact Career Development Centre on 091 493646 or placement@nuigalway.ie. -Ends- 

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Major exhibition explores W.B. Yeats’ connections with the West

Major exhibition explores W.B. Yeats’ connections with the West-image

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A major exhibition celebrating the many connections W.B. Yeats had with the west of Ireland opens at NUI Galway tomorrow (25 June). NUI Galway’s Moore Institute and Hardiman Library will present ‘Yeats & the West’, an exhibition exploring Yeats’s life, work, legacy and deep connections to the west of Ireland. Rare artworks, books, original documents and exclusive film clips will feature in the interactive exhibition. Original watercolour sketches and oils by W.B. Yeats’s brother, the celebrated artist Jack B. Yeats, will also feature. The exhibition is part of Ireland’s decade of commemorations and the worldwide Yeats2015 series of cultural events marking his 150th birthday. The exhibition will run from 25 June – December 2015. Items on display will reflect W.B. Yeats’s attention to life, love, and landscape in Galway, Sligo, and beyond. ‘Yeats & the West’ details the many artistic collaborations that centred on Coole Park in Co. Galway between artists inspired by the western world. It follows the foundation of the Abbey Theatre in Galway, and Yeats’s work with J.M. Synge, George Moore and Edward Martyn, using exclusive materials from NUI Galway’s Lady Gregory Collection, the Abbey Digital Archive, and the Lyric Theatre Belfast. It explores his obsession with local poet Antoine Ó Raifteirí, and highlights the gifted artists of Yeats’s own family, whose pioneering work is showcased in exquisite handprinted books and in embroidery from Loughrea’s St. Brendan’s Cathedral. “William Butler Yeats, poet, playwright, politician, and Nobel prize-winner for literature always looked west. For Yeats the west was the wellspring of songs, stories, folklore, artwork, drama, crafts; the foundation of the Irish imagination. It was also the landscape of his poetry and plays. Significant events of his life took place here; collaborations that formed his work were forged here. ‘Yeats & the West’ tells this remarkable story and considers what the west meant to him, and what that means for us”, explains Dr Adrian Paterson, a Lecturer in English at NUI Galway and expert on W.B. Yeats, who led the curation of the exhibition. The interactive exhibition features original watercolour sketches and oils by W.B. Yeats’s brother, the celebrated artist Jack B. Yeats, priceless Cuala Press volumes and broadsides, a wealth of visual material from artists and photographers from Fergus Bourke to Nicolas Fève, and rarely seen images and manuscripts from archive collections in NUI Galway and around the world. Through rare books, original documents, and artworks, and using modern touchscreens, recorded sound, and exclusive film, visitors will be able to take a tour of Yeats’s commitment to history, tradition, and new art, all under western eyes. Talks and special events feature throughout the exhibition’s spectacular run from June to December 2015. Yeats’s restoration of Thoor Ballylee, Galway, is seen alongside the construction of his own poetry, and the effects of revolution and civil war on his work and the west is put starkly on view with manuscripts from the National Library of Ireland, and rare books and photographs. Collaborations with his artist brother Jack B. Yeats are illustrated with newly exhibited sketches and exquisite colour prints. ‘Yeats & the West’ even tracks his furthest forays west, following him and the Abbey players as they cross the Atlantic and bring back with them a renewed idea of the breadth of the western world. “Through images, words, film, and sound, with interactive touchscreens, panels, and rich display cases, using valuable material from the University’s collections and from around the world, ‘Yeats & the West’ tells anew an old story: a story of going west to find those places, real and imaginative, that change our sense of where and who we are”, added Dr Paterson, who serves on the Yeats2015 Steering Committee and Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society. The exhibition runs from June to December 2015 in the Hardiman Building, NUI Galway with special events throughout. ‘Yeats & the West’ is supported by the Moore Institute, Hardiman Library, Galway City Museum, the National Library of Ireland, Loughrea Cathedral, the Yeats Thoor Ballylee Society, and Yeats2015. -ends-

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