President's Awards for Societal Impact

About the Awards

The NUI Galway President's Awards for Societal Impact is a recognition of the valuable contribution staff members makes to society. The aim is to award the outstanding contributions of staff across the whole University who seek to use their skills and knowledge to improve the University’s contribution to society and our various communities, to stimulate excellence and help improve the visibility of the University’s impact on society and the broader community, above and beyond routine support and academic activities, on behalf of the University. This is the fourth year the awards have been running and now in 2020, there are two categories of awards with the Early Stage being offered in addition to the traditional Established career award.

  • Established - activities that are mature with national and/or international partnerships and impact.
  • Early Stage - activities are at early or nascent stages of development with more local and/or regional partnerships and impact.

Societal Impact is a broad concept and for the purposes of this award it should reflect serious efforts that align with the University’s ambitions set out in our new Strategy - Shared Vison, Shaped by Values  2020-2025.The strategy encourages active engagement with external stakeholders, alumni and the public to maximise and amplify our impact.   Some ways to do this include engagement in public debate and services; supporting the development of policy; stimulating and supporting cultural activities and supporting industries; providing businesses and the community with expertise and advice. The President's societal awards, were initially launched in 2017 following the European Universities Association conference hosted by NUI Galway, the President of Ireland/ Uachtarán na hÉireann, Michael D. Higgins, praised Universities for their significant contributions to society beyond routine academic activities and encouraged all staff to use their skills and knowledge to create a better society. Inspired by this vision and in line with the high value NUI Galway places on societal impact, the University invites applications and nominations for the ‘President’s Award for Societal Impact’

Context and examples

Societal Impact is a broad concept. For the purposes of this award, it should reflect serious efforts at societal impact beyond that typically considered to be part of routine work. It should involve an individual identifying a need or opportunity for societal impact and demonstrating initiative, effort and creativity to help create a better society.  The societal impacts should be in line with the institutional ambitions set out in Vision 2020 including engaging in public debate and services, supporting the development of policy in key areas and stimulating and supporting cultural activities and supporting industry, businesses and the community with expertise and advice. Reported impacts should be accompanied by quantitative and qualitative measures.

 Contributions and impacts can include but are not limited to the following: 

  • Indicators of wider influence (for example, on policy and practice) or contributions to the discipline, national and international
  • Important cultural production, for example, in literature, music and art
  • Esteem indicators such as awards, prizes, commendations or nominations pertaining specifically to positive societal impact and not covered by other metrics 
  • Esteem indicators such as leadership and Membership roles with demonstrable high-level engagement in international bodies (other than international academic networks), national statutory bodies, professional organisations and cultural institutions
  • Collaborative partnerships with demonstrable impacts with external bodies, and/or with industry, government agencies, local and regional authorities and community groups, including schools and other education providers where appropriate
  • Impactful contribution to Government Agencies, NGOs, community groups or organisations including, for example, significant reports or background papers (other than commissioned research covered by research impact KPIs), invited voluntary/independent expert inputs to strategic planning and programme evaluation processes.
  • Significant contributions to establishing a collaborative community learning and research partnerships and initiatives aimed at advancing civic, social, economic and cultural inclusion, including community arts projects
  • Direct or indirect contributions to jobs creation in the private sector and voluntary/non-profit sector
  • Development of educational, training or dissemination programmes that bring significant value to the local or national economy (e.g. internationally funded students, tourist/visitor attraction, large international conferences, concerts/entertainment events)
  • Significant contributions to the provision of aid, resources, education, training or services to troubled or resource-deprived communities/regions (e.g. partnership with institutions in the developing world) 

Selection Criteria

A selection panel will review all submissions based on the following criteria: 

  • Reach: How many people are impacted by the contributions?
  • Depth: How deeply is society impacted by the contributions?
  • Longevity: How long will the impact of the contributions last?
  • Strategy: How aligned with University strategy are the contributions?
  • Effort: The amount of effort expended over time on the impact.

 The Panel has the right to make autonomous decisions based on the information received and the criteria, reserving also the right to seek further clarification and the right to modify the process if required. Each award will be accompanied by a grant of €1,000 that may be used for the purchase of equipment, support conference participation, travel and subsistence.


Application Procedure

All staff are eligible for application or nomination and consideration either as an individual or as part of a team. Applications or nominations by a member of staff can be put forward using the Application /Nomination Form.  Any nomination must be made by a member of NUI Galway staff and requires the nominee's acceptance/consent.

All applications/nominations must include: 

  1. The standard application form
  2. A short 500-700-word statement giving a critical assessment and quantitative evidence of the work which the candidate wants to be to be considered against the relevant criteria.
  3. Letters of support at least one of which should be from someone outside the University.

All applications/nominations will be reviewed by the Societal Impact Panel (or official sub-group thereof) to identify candidates who meet the requirements. Any applicants who do not meet the above three requirements will be deemed ineligible and not considered.  

The Societal Impact panel reserves the right to request further information if deemed necessary and an applicant may be invited to submit a supporting case document - a concise document which justifies the applications/nominations and explains the supporting evidence which underpins the submission. The deadline for submission of the supporting case document will be communicated to applicants 

Societal Impact Panel

  • Academic Staff Developer (Chair)
  • Vice President for Equality and Diversity
  • Vice President for Research
  • Director of Planning & Institutional Research
  • Two Nominees of the President
  • Two Deans
  • Two external reviewers to be identified by the panel

The awards will be presented at an appropriate ceremony.
The University will wish to publicise the awards and award holders through various media and, therefore, award holders should be prepared to appear in such publicity materials. Successful candidates will not be eligible to be considered for another Societal Impact Award for a period of 3 years.

See timeline for the 2020 applications:

Applications/nominations in PDF format should be emailed to Claire O' Connor ( ) at the Institutional Research Office not later than  31st July 2020. All applicants will be informed of the decision made by the panel before the end of September 2020. 

For any queries, please contact
Claire O' Connor
Director of Planning and Institutional Research
National University of Ireland, Galway
Tel: 353(0)91-49 5708



As Gaeilge

Gradam an Uachtaráin do Leas na Sochaí  

Is cúis áthais dom a fhógairt go bhfuil iarratais á lorg anois do Ghradaim an Uachtaráin don Tionchar ar an tSochaí 2020.

Is gradam é seo a thugann aitheantas don obair luachmhar a dhéanann ár gcomhghleacaithe, thar ceann na hOllscoile, ar mhaithe leis an tsochaí agus lenár bpobal trí chéile, sa bhreis ar na gnáthghníomhaíochtaí tacaíochta agus acadúla. Is é an cuspóir atá le Gradaim an Uachtaráin don Tionchar ar an tSochaí aitheantas a thabhairt don obair eisceachtúil a dhéanann comhaltaí foirne fud fad na hOllscoile a bhíonn ag iarraidh a gcuid acmhainní agus a gcuid eolais a úsáid le cur leis an obair a dhéanann ár nOllscoil ar mhaithe leis an tsochaí agus lenár bpobail éagsúla, le daoine a spreagadh le sárchaighdeán a bhaint amach agus le níos mó airde a tharraingt ar an tionchar a bhíonn ag ár nOllscoil ar an tsochaí.Seo an ceathrú bliain a bhfuil na gradaim á reáchtáil agus anois in 2020, tá dhá chatagóir gradaim ann, an Chéim Luath atá á tairiscint i dteannta an ghradaim thraidisiúnta do ghairm Bhunaithe.

 1.  An Chéim Luath - tá na gníomhaíochtaí ag céimeanna luath den fhorbairt agus tá na comhpháirtíochtaí agus tionchar níos áitiúla agus/nó réigiúnaí.

 2.  Bunaithe - gníomhaíochtaí atá níos forbartha agus comhpháirtíochtaí agus tionchar náisiúnta agus/nó idirnáisiúnta.  

Is coincheap leathan é Tionchar ar an tSochaí agus chun críocha an ghradaim seo ba cheart go léireodh sé na hiarrachtaí substainteacha a thagann le spriocanna na hOllscoile atá leagtha amach inár Straitéis nua - Fís i gCoiteann, Múnlaithe ag Luachanna 2020-2025. 

Leis an straitéis seo spreagtar rannpháirtíocht ghníomhach le páirtithe leasmhara seachtracha, le alumni agus leis an bpobal chun an tionchar atá againn a mhéadú ar mhaithe le leas an phobail.   Roinnt samplaí de seo ná rannpháirtíocht i ndíospóireacht agus i seirbhísí poiblí; tacú le polasaí a fhorbairt; spreagadh agus tacaíocht a thabhairt do ghníomhaíochtaí cultúrtha agus tacú le tionscail; saineolas agus comhairle a sholáthar do ghnólachtaí agus don phobal. Is réimse é seo atá ag éirí níos tábhachtaí do phobal na hollscoile agus do na pobail a bhfuilimid scartha uathu sa tréimhse dhúshlánach seo.

 Comhthéacs agus samplaí

 Is coincheap an-leathan é Leas na Sochaí. Maidir leis an ngradam seo, ba cheart go léireodh sé iarrachtaí dáiríre maidir le leas na sochaí lasmuigh díobh sin a shamhlaítear leis an ngnáthobair. Is cóir go gcuimseodh sé riachtanas nó deis a aithint chun tionchar a imirt ar an sochaí agus go léireoidh sé tionscantacht, saothar agus cruthaíocht ar mhaithe le sochaí níos fearr a chruthú. Ba cheart go mbeadh leasa na sochaí ar aon dul leis na huaillmhianta a leagtar amach in Fís 2020 lena n-áirítear páirt a ghlacadh i ndíospóireachtaí agus i seirbhísí pobail, tacú le polasaí a fhorbairt i réimsí fíorthábhachtacha agus gníomhaíochtaí cultúrtha a thacú agus a spreagadh agus tionsclaíocht, gnólachtaí agus an pobal a thacú le saineolas agus le comhairle.Ba cheart go mbeadh bearta cainníochtúla agus cáilíochtúla ag gabháil leis na leasa a thuairiscítear.

 D’fhéadfadh na nithe seo a leanas a bheith i gceist le héachtaí agus le leasa ach níl siad teoranta dóibh

  • Táscairí maidir le leasa níos leithne (mar shampla, i dtaca le polasaí agus le cleachtas) nó éachtaí maidir leis an disciplín, go náisiúnta agus go hidirnáisiúnta
  • Saothar tábhachtach cultúrtha, mar shampla, maidir le cúrsaí litríochta, cúrsaí ceoil agus cúrsaí ealaíne
  • Táscairí ómóis mar ghradaim, duaiseanna, ardmholtaí nó ainmniúcháin a bhaineann go dlúth le leas na sochaí agus nach gclúdaíonn méadracht eile iad
  • Táscairí ómóis mar róil cheannaireachta agus Bhallraíochta a bhfuil rannpháirtíocht ardleibhéil fhollasach i gceist leo i gcomhlachtaí idirnáisiúnta (cé is moite de líonraí acadúla idirnáisiúnta), comhlachtaí reachtúla náisiúnta, eagraíochtaí gairmiúla agus institiúidí cultúrtha
  • Comhpháirtíochtaí comhoibríocha le leasa follasacha le comhlachtaí seachtracha, agus/nó le gníomhaireachtaí tionscail, rialtais, údaráis áitiúla agus réigiúnacha agus grúpaí pobail, lena n-áirítear scoileanna agus soláthróirí oideachais eile nuair is cuí
  • Éacht tábhachtach maidir le gníomhaireachtaí rialtais, eagraíochtaí neamhrialtasacha, grúpaí pobail nó eagraíochtaí lena n-áirítear mar shampla: tuarascálacha tábhachtacha nó doiciméid taighde (lasmuigh de thaighde coimisiúnaithe atá clúdaithe ag leas taighde eochairtháscairí feidhmíochta), ionchur saineolais deonach/neamhspleách a bhfuil cuireadh i gceist leis maidir le pleanáil straitéiseach agus próisis mheastóireachta clár
  • Éachtaí tábhachtacha chun foghlaim chomhoibríoch phobalbhunaithe a bhunú agus comhpháirtíochtaí taighde agus tionscnaimh atá dírithe ar ionchuimsiú sibhialta, sóisialta, eacnamaíoch agus cultúrtha a chur chun cinn, lena n-áirítear tionscadail ealaíne pobail
  • Éachtaí díreacha nó indíreacha maidir le cruthú post san earnáil phríobháideach agus san earnáil dheonach/neamhbhrabúis
  • Cláir oideachais, oiliúna nó craobhscaoilte a fhorbairt a mbaineann an eacnamaíocht áitiúil nó náisiúnta tairbhe shuntasach astu (e.g. mic léinn atá ag fáil maoiniú idirnáisiúnta, rudaí a mheallann turasóirí/cuairteoirí, comhdhálacha/ceolchoirmeacha/imeachtaí siamsaíochta móra idirnáisiúnta)
  • Éachtaí tábhachtacha maidir le cabhair, acmhainní, oideachas, oiliúint nó seirbhísí a sholáthar do phobail/réigiúin chorraitheacha nó atá ar ghanntan acmhainní (e.g. comhpháirtíocht le hinstitiúidí sa domhan forbraíochta)

 Critéir Roghnúcháin

 Déanfaidh painéal roghnúcháin athbhreithniú ar na hiarratais go léir bunaithe ar na critéir seo a leanas:  

  • Tionchar: Cá mhéad duine a dtéann na héachtaí i bhfeidhm orthu?
  • Méid an Tionchair: Cé chomh mór agus a théann na héachtaí i bhfeidhm ar an tsochaí?
  • Fad: Cá fhad a mhairfidh leas na n-éachtaí?
  • Straitéis: Cé chomh mór agus atá na héachtaí i dtiúin le straitéis na hOllscoile?
  • Ionchur: Leibhéal an ionchuir a rinne an duine/fhoireann chun an t-éacht seo a bhaint amach.

 Tá sé de cheart ag an bPainéal cinntí a dhéanamh as a stuaim féin bunaithe ar an eolas a fhaightear agus ar na critéir, tá sé de cheart aige freisin soiléiriú breise a lorg agus tá sé de cheart aige an próiseas a choigeartú más gá. Beidh deontas €1,000 ag gabháil le gach gradam ar féidir é a úsáid ar mhaithe le trealamh a cheannach, ar mhaithe le cabhrú le freastal ar chomhdhálacha, ar mhaithe le cúrsaí taistil agus cothabhála.


Tá gach comhalta foirne i dteideal iarratas nó ainmniúchán a dhéanamh, mar dhuine aonair nó mar chuid d’fhoireann.  Is féidir le comhalta foirne iarratas nó ainmniúchán a dhéanamh ar an bhfoirm iarratais/ainmniúcháin atá ar fáil ar láithreán gréasáin na hOifige Taighde Institiúidigh   . Caithfidh comhalta d'fhoireann OÉ Gaillimh aon ainmniúchán a dhéanamh agus caithfidh an té atá ainmnithe glacadh leis nó cead a thabhairt. 
Is cóir go mbeadh na nithe seo a leanas san áireamh le gach iarratas (i) an ghnáthfhoirm iarratais/ainmniúcháin, (ii) ráiteas gairid 500-700 focal a chuireann fianaise ar fáil agus a dhéanann measúnú criticiúil ar an obair a bhfuil an t-iarrthóir ag iarraidh go gcuirfear san áireamh í, i bhfianaise na gcritéar ábhartha a mhínítear thuas le tacaíocht ó (iii) litreacha tacaíochta ar cheart go mbeadh ar a laghad ceann amháin acu ó dhuine éigin lasmuigh den Ollscoil. 

Ba cheart iarratais/ainmniúcháin i bhfoirm PDF a chur ar aghaidh i ríomhphost chuig san Oifig Taighde Institiúidigh ar dháta nach déanaí ná 3 Bealtaine 2019. Athbhreithneoidh Painéal Leas na Sochaí (nó foghrúpa oifigiúil an Phainéil) na hiarratais/na hainmniúcháin chun na hiarrthóirí siúd a chomhlíonann na riachtanais a aithint. Ní chuirfear iarrthóirí nach gcomhlíonann na trí riachtanais atá luaite thuas san áireamh.
Beidh sé de cheart ag Painéal Leas na Sochaí breis eolais a lorg má mheasann sé go bhfuil gá leis agus sa chás sin d'fhéadfaí cuireadh a thabhairt d'iarrthóir cáipéis tacaíochta a chur ar fáil – cáipéis ghonta a dhéanann cás ar son an iarratais/an ainmniúcháin agus a mhíníonn an fhianaise thacaíochta atá curtha ar fáil san iarratas.  Cuirfear an spriocdháta in iúl do na hiarrthóirí maidir leis an dáta ar gá an cháipéis tacaíochta a sheoladh ar aghaidh.
Cuirfear cinneadh an Phainéil in iúl do na hiarrthóirí agus do na moltóirí ar fad roimh dheireadh Lúnasa 2019. 

Painéal Leas na Sochaí 

  • An Stiúrthóir Feabhais (Cathaoirleach)
  • An Leas-Uachtarán Comhionannais agus Éagsúlachta
  • An Leas-Uachtarán Taighde
  • Stiúrthóir Pleanála & Taighde Institiúidigh
  • Beirt Ainmnithe de chuid an Uachtaráin
  • Beirt Déan
  • Beirt athbhreithneoirí seachtracha a bheidh le hainmniú ag an bpainéal

 Bronnfar na gradaim ag searmanas cuí.

 Beidh sé de rún ag an Ollscoil poiblíocht a dhéanamh ar son na ngradam agus ar son na ndaoine a mbronnfar gradam orthu trí mheáin éagsúla agus, mar sin, ba cheart go mbeadh na daoine a mbronnfar na gradaim orthu réidh le páirt a ghlacadh in ábhair phoiblíochta.

Ní bheidh iarratasóirí a n-éireoidh leo i dteideal iarratas a dhéanamh ar Ghradam Leas na Sochaí arís go ceann tréimhse 3 bliana.

Societal Impact President's Award Winners

See previous years winners here

2019 Societal Impact Winners

 This year the University would like to recognize the efforts of three individual awardees and three team awardees.  All of these awarded activities are created and sustained by colleagues who we believe have made a significant impact on society through their efforts.

Individual Awardees:

1. Professor John Breslin (School of Engineering) for his work as Co-Founder and Director of Galway City Innovation District (Portershed)  

John Breslin Award 2019 B
Left to right: President Ciáran Ó hÓgartaigh presenting Prof. John Breslin with his award.

A number of years ago, John noticed that the Galway startup ecosystem was in a challenging environment and the lack of infrastructure namely downtown hub for startup companies to locate themselves was prohibitive in terms of growth and development.   John went onto spearhead and co-found the non-profit Galway City Innovation District (GCID) also known as the Portershed. Its purpose was to attract creators, innovators and entrepreneurs who wish to work in close proximity to others in a supportive and connected environment. John has demonstrated great vision and efforts to create a digital community hub in Galway and the west of Ireland and for driving a culture of innovation and startups.

This ambitious project and infrastructure, namely the Portershed:  

  • is now home to 44 startup companies with 11 of these companies led by female founders.
  • it contributes an estimated €15 million per annum to the local economy.
  • It has supported the creation of 720 jobs
  • PorterShed companies have raised over €20 million in funding.

Read more in Prof. John Breslin's Case Study

 2. Dr. Diarmuid Griffin (School of Law) is recognised for his Community and Policy-led work on Sentencing and Release of Offenders in Ireland.

Diarmuid Griffin Award 2019 B
Left to right: President Ciáran Ó hÓgartaigh presenting Dr. Diarmuid Griffin with his award.

Diarmuid is successfully awarded for his pioneering work on sentencing and release of life sentence prisoners in Ireland and is highly commended for his efforts in terms of national policy change and practices to prepare for the release of life sentence prisoners.  Before Diarmuid’s research and public engagement activities over a decade ago, at a national level there was little information on the release of life sentence prisoners.  His work has engaged directly with the Prison system in Ireland, Life sentence prisoners, Dáil question lines, advocating and influencing of policy, judicial citations and his work has most recently culminated in the creation and the passing of the Parole Act 2019.

Read more in Dr. Diarmuid Griffin's Case Study

3. Professor Andy Shearer (School of Physics) – Public Engagement and Outreach in Science and Research

Andy is recognized for his efforts and activities over the last two decades to promote public engagement and outreach to bring astronomy (and Physics) to a much wider and public community.  At the time when Andy pioneered his outreach activities there was a policy and funding vacuum in terms of public engagement with STEM and he has been instrumental in inspiring colleagues in this university and beyond to promote and engage disciplinary knowledge with the wider society. 

Read more in Prof. Andy Shearer's Case Study

Team Awardees:

1. Active Consent Team
President Ciáran Ó hÓgartaigh, Dr. Kate Dawson, Dr. Charlotte McIvor, Dr. Siobhán O’Higgins and Dr. Pádraig MacNeela (Psychology and the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance).  Pictured left to right

Active Consent Team

This team has had local and national societal impact in terms of working with 16-24 year olds across Ireland to promote confidence, knowledge, and openness in communicating about sexual consent and developing a ‘consent literacy’ discourse. Through a four pronged approach they have created a deeper culture of sexual consent through the delivery of workshops, dramatic productions, marketing, and training in Galway and across the island of Ireland.  Their work has been applauded by government ministers, students attending workshops and training as well as leaders of educational institutions.   They are currently working with 18 colleges nationwide, having built a network of practice through SMART Consent workshops.

Read more in the Active Consent Team's Case Study

2. Lone Parents Team

Professor Michelle Millar, President Ciáran Ó hÓgartaigh and Dr. Rosemary Cross (Sociology and Politics): Pictured left to right.

Lone Parent Award 2019

Michelle and Rosemary ave made a significant contribution to wider society from their pioneering research, as policy experts and advocates for change into Irish Lone Parents and deeper recognition of the poverty cycle. Their collaborative efforts have enabled an investigation of best practice and innovative approaches to the labour market activation of lone-parents in Ireland and internationally, so as to achieve financial independence and social well-being. Their research had impacted national policy and in particular, has had an impact in ensuring policymakers monitor and report on the impact of the policy change on lone-parents.  The research has changed the narrative around lone-parents in Ireland and has been utilised by advocacy groups and NGOs to agitate for a change in policy towards lone-parents.

Read more in the Lone Parent's Team Case Study

3. National Rural Network Team

 Dr. Aisling Murtagh,  Dr Therese Conway,   Dr. Teresa Hooks, President Ciáran Ó hÓgartaigh,  Dr. Marie Mahon, Dr. Maura Farrell, Dr. John McDonagh and Dr. Shane Conway.
(Archaeology and Geography): Pictured left to right.

NRN Team Award 2019 with Shane D

The National Rural Network Team are today recognised for their work in terms of successfully coordinating this network on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM), and the Department of Rural and Community Development (DRCD). The aim of this national network is to increase the involvement of rural stakeholders in the implementation of rural development policies, while fostering innovation in agriculture, food production, forestry and rural area development.  The NUIG team have developed high levels of trust and respect with numerous rural development and agricultural organisations, both nationally and internationally.  Their work has provided a unique opportunity for NUIG to become centrally involved in promoting rural issues at everyday societal and policy levels. 

 Read more in the National Rural Network Team's Case Study

See the 2018 Winners here

See the 2017 Winners here