Unique Language Planning PhD Programme Launched at NUI Galway

Monday, 30 November 2009

-Focus on the requirements of Irish speakers- Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Éamon Ó Cuív T.D., has officially launched two PhD programmes dealing with minority language issues within the Irish-speaking community. The research programme, run by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge in conjunction with NUI Galway's School of Health Sciences, is funded through research bursaries from An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta agus Gaelscolaíochta (COGG). Speaking at the launch Minister Ó Cuív said: "The strategic collaboration between the University, the State and the community is contributing to the groundbreaking work undertaken by Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge and NUI Galway for the benefit of the Irish-speaking community through teaching, research and consultancy work. It is intended that these research findings will be used to provide more effective advice to that community and to help Gaeltacht bodies tackle the complexities of bilingualism". NUI Galway President Dr James J. Browne congratulated Sarah Anne Muckley and Ciarán Lenoach, the students who were successfully awarded the COGG bursaries. He thanked COGG for supporting these research projects and for providing the research scholarships to enable NUI Galway award them to competent students undertaking research in this area of study. "These research proposals reflect the great progress Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge has made in developing Irish-medium education. We are happy that an tAcadamh, the School of Health Sciences (Speech & Language Therapy) and the Health Service Executive are cooperating to gain an understanding of the requirements of Irish speakers, and the requirements of Irish speakers with special needs, in particular". Speaking at the launch, Dr Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, Aonad na Pleanála Teanga, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta, Gaeilge, said: "This is the first PhD programme with which Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge is associated. The two PhD research projects are part of a pioneering research programme that will deal with relevant minority language issues within the Irish-speaking community. This research is central to the work of Aonad na Pleanála Teanga and shows how research projects in that unit are developing". The aim of the first PhD programme is to develop appropriate Irish assessments that are suitable for the way Irish is spoken as a minority language. This research will provide assessments for speech therapists who work with native Irish speakers. The second PhD will analyse the complexities of bilingualism in a minority language community such as those faced by Irish speakers in Gaeltacht areas. An important objective of NUI Galway is to develop transdisciplinary study and research and to resolve common issues through examination by the application of different perspectives and understandings. Minister Ó Cuív added: "A consistent and coordinated strategy is needed to ensure that the services available to people whose home language is Irish are the same as the services available to their English-speaking counterparts. The community and the state are cooperating to ensure that this groundbreaking step in the development of services and resources will succeed so that systems will be put in place to provide as complete a service to families who are raising their children through Irish as the service provided to families who choose English as their household language". -Ends-

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Threats Posed by Climate Change to Coastal Regions Targeted by New Project

Monday, 30 November 2009

The threats posed by climate change to coastal regions in Western Europe are to being investigated by NUI Galway experts together with teams from universities in France, Spain and Portugal. Along with local and regional authorities, the universities have founded the 'Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management' (ANCORIM). This initiative has been granted €1.9 million by the EU for a three-year project to bridge the gap between the climate change scientists and coastal zone decision-makers. In Ireland, an assessment of the current planning practices in the Border-Midlands-West region has begun to ascertain how, if at all, are considerations of climate change being included in planning decisions. The ANCORIM team will look at managing and preventing the risks associated with climate change in regards to shoreline erosion, rural and urban coastal land planning, and economic activities such as fish farming. The work at NUI Galway is being led by geographers with the Environmental Change Institute (ECI) and will involve local communities in the western region through Mayo County Council and Údarás na Gaeltachta. Dr Martina Prendergast, Development Manager of the ECI, says: "As a nation we need to realise the importance of 'climate-proofing' our policies. The ANCORIM project is about supporting the futures of coastal communities all along the Atlantic rim of Europe. The support of the community is key to the success of this project, and locally we will be making the most of our close links with the Gaeltacht". The involvement of high-risk coastal communities in the project will be facilitated through focus groups, interviews and other consultative means. NUI Galway's Professor Micheál Ó Cinnéide says: "This work is all the more important because it is well known that societies around the world tend to underestimate risks associated with many natural phenomena such as floods, droughts and earthquakes. Unfortunately, risks to coastal zones associated with the changing climate are currently incorporated in decision-making largely on an ad-hoc basis only in many countries. Planning guidelines that incorporate the risks of climate change need to be put in place". Professor Ó Cinnéide added: "This is not a shortcoming of the planners, or of climate change researchers and scientists. However, the scientific information does need to be made more accessible, and its implications for coastal communities need to be spelt out. As part of this project, we will be compiling sets of best practices and working with the decision-makers as to how these should best be incorporated into current policies and practices". Ireland has already seen the dramatic effects of coastal erosion, especially in County Wexford where some areas are losing more than two metres of shoreline each year due to erosion. It is in situations like this, where coastal land planning decisions would need to incorporate the effects of increased storminess and higher sea levels on rates of shoreline retreat. Dr Kevin Lynch, a coastal geomorphologist with the ANCORIM team at NUI Galway, explains: "Although coastal erosion and flooding is increasingly being seen as a major threat in Ireland, for the most part the response has been to provide engineering solutions such as building sea walls and using filled gabions to stabilise the shoreline. Engineering solutions have been shown to be unsustainable due to high costs and detrimental impacts on our natural heritage. Alternative solutions need to be advanced to combat impacts of climate change on our coastlines. Adapting and planning for coastlines to change naturally may be something in which we will have no choice". -ends-

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Experts Call for National Strategy to Develop Creative Sector

Monday, 30 November 2009

The Western Development Commission (WDC) and the Centre for Innovation and Structural Change (CISC) at NUI Galway have called for the development of an integrated national strategy to develop the creative sector and drive the future of the smart economy. The call was made at a seminar entitled 'Creative Industries, Innovation & the Smart Economy' held at NUI Galway and attended by policymakers and practitioners from the creative sector. The Smart Economy Framework, launched by the Government in December 2008, specifically identifies the creative, cultural and arts sector as important for national recovery and building a more knowledge and innovation intensive economy. Speaking at the seminar Lisa McAllister, WDC Chief Executive, said: "Creativity should be firmly placed at the core of the smart economy where wealth creation will be increasingly driven by ideas, intangibles and the creative application of Information and Communications Technology. Although we are conscious of the current economic constraints, the WDC believes a national policy to develop the sector will deliver long term economic results for the Western Region and for the national economy. We also believe that future policy decisions should include investment in infrastructure so that the creative businesses who locate here can access international markets, both physically through air, road and rail links, and virtually by way of fast, cheap broadband to reduce any sense of peripherality". Dr James Cunningham, Director of the Centre for Innovation & Structural Change at NUI Galway, said: "The nature and organisation of innovation activity is changing and the development of an internationally competitive creative industries sector complements and helps sustain private and public sector investment in research, development and innovation (RDI). Development of a national policy for creative industries would provide a focus for enabling action and a recognition of the importance of creative industries to Irish society and business". Dr Cunningham added: "Policy supports and investment in the development of creative industries would strengthen, deepen and broaden the skills and talents of individuals and organisations. This would also support, in a sustainable way, the broadening of innovation capability and capacity which is a critical element of building a smart economy". The seminar heard of research carried out by the WDC to investigate the size of the creative sector in the Western Region and to identify the key issues faced by people working in the sector. It estimated that in 2008 there were 4,779 creative businesses operating in the Western Region, directly employing over 11,000 people. This generated an annual turnover of €534m and directly contributed €270m to the Gross Value Added of the regional economy. The research also showed that creative businesses in the Western Region tend to be small scale and that there is a high level of entrepreneurship among creative people with 39% of them self-employed. The Western Region is predominantly rural with 68% of the population living in rural areas and the region having few large centres. Creative talent is seen as an asset in a rural region and the seminar heard calls for policies to retain and attract creative talent because creativity is one of the key areas for potential economic growth. Ms McAllister added: "The presence of a strong creative sector in a region can also drive creative thinking in other sectors as well as stimulating new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things". Professor Robert Huggins from the University of Wales and Director of the Centre for International Competitiveness presented international evidence of the links between competitiveness and creativity. He explained how competitiveness is increasingly being measured in terms of creativity, knowledge and environmental conditions, rather than purely on accumulated wealth and that creativity is not a purely urban phenomenon. The seminar heard that Creative Industries and the Smart Economy are relative newcomers to policy debates and that the old dichotomy that separated 'cultural industries' from 'economic industries' is waning, as research highlights the contribution of the innate creativity often found in rural areas to the economic performance of regions. -Ends-

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Winter Honorary Conferring at NUI Galway

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

(Leagan Gaeilge) Almost 800 students will graduate from across the five colleges at NUI Galway today (Wednesday, 25 November 2009) at the University s winter conferring ceremonies. John Lynch, musical director of the Kilfenora Ceilí Band and regional development activist Mr Tony Barrett, will also be honoured with a Master of Music (honoris causa) and Master of Arts (honoris causa) respectively. In awarding the Master of Music honoris causa on John Lynch, NUI Galway is honouring not just the current Kilfenora Céilí Band but all those renowned musicians of earlier decades, from Kilfenora itself and from elsewhere, who have created a century of outstanding musical tradition. In 2009, the Kilfenora Céilí Band, the country's oldest Céilí Band and an enduring icon at home and abroad of the traditional culture of Ireland, celebrates the centenary of its foundation. Tony Barrett, is being honored for his personal contribution to local and regional development across the region and the Gaeltacht, to the Irish Cooperative Movement, and to a range of University projects. Mr Barrett was a member of the first class of the Master's in Rural Development degree at NUI Galway, graduating in 1987. Speaking in advance of the ceremony, President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne, commented: "NUI Galway is fortunate to be associated with many outstanding honorary graduates throughout its history. Today's honorary graduands - John Lynch and Tony Barrett - have made valuable and distinctive contributions in the areas of traditional music and community development. In very different ways they have added to the social and cultural life of Ireland and NUI Galway is very pleased to be in a position to recognise these exceptional individuals". Kilfenora Céilí Band band will play a short selection in the Aula Maxima at a private lunch following the conferring. This will be a repeat performance, as University archives show that the band played in the Aula Maxima in 1937 for the Sigerson Cup Céilí. In addition, degrees, higher diplomas, Masters and PhDs will be awarded to students graduating throughout the day from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences; College of Engineering and Informatics; College of Business, Public Policy and Law; College of Science; and the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies. Céimeanna Oinigh an Gheimhridh in OÉ Gaillimh (View in English) Bronnfar céim ar bhreis agus 800 mac léinn as cúig choláiste OÉ Gaillimh inniu (Dé Céadaoin, an 25 Samhain 2009) i searmanais bhronnadh céimeanna an gheimhridh san Ollscoil. Chomh maith leo sin, bronnfar Máistreacht sa Cheol (honoris causa) ar John Lynch, stiúrthóir ceoil Bhanna Céilí Chill Fhionnúrach agus Máistreacht sna Dána (honoris causa) ar an ngníomhaire d'fhorbairt réigiúnach, Tony Barrett. Agus Máistreacht (honoris causa) sa Cheol á bronnadh ar John Lynch, tá aitheantas á thabhairt ag OÉ Gaillimh do na ceoltóirí cáiliúla as Cill Fhionnúrach féin agus as áiteanna eile a bhí sa bhanna le blianta anuas agus a chruthaigh traidisiún ceoil an chéid. In 2009, tá Banna Céilí Chill Fhionnúrach, an banna céilí is sine sa tír agus a bhfuil clú agus cáil air i bhfad agus i gcéin, ag ceiliúradh céad bliain ó bunaíodh é. Tá aitheantas á fháil ag Tony Barrett as an obair atá déanta aige don fhorbairt réigiúnach agus áitiúil sa cheantar agus sa Ghaeltacht, do Ghluaiseacht na gComharchumann in Éirinn, agus do thograí éagsúla Ollscoile. Bhí an tUasal Barrett sa chéad rang Máistreachta i bhForbairt Tuaithe in OÉ Gaillimh agus bronnadh a chéim air i 1987. Bhí an méid seo a leanas le rá ag Uachtarán OÉ Gaillimh, an Dr James J. Browne, roimh an searmanas: "Tá an t-ádh ar OÉ Gaillimh ceangal a bheith aici leis an oiread sin céimithe oinigh den scoth ó bunaíodh í. Tá éacht déanta ag céimithe oinigh an lae inniu – John Lynch agus Tony Barrett – sa cheol traidisiúnta agus san fhorbairt pobail. Ar bhealaí atá an-éagsúil óna chéile, chuir siad beirt go mór le saol sóisialta agus cultúrtha na hÉireann agus tá ríméad ar OÉ Gaillimh aitheantas a thabhairt do na daoine eisceachtúla seo". Ag lón príobháideach i ndiaidh an tsearmanais, seinnfidh Banna Céilí Chill Fhionnúrach cúpla port san Aula Maxima. Ní hé seo an chéad uair ar tharla a leithéid. Léiríonn cartlann na hOllscoile gur sheinm an banna céilí san Aula Maxima i 1937 do Chéilí Chorn Sigerson. Beifear ag bronnadh céimeanna, ard-dioplómaí, Máistreachtaí agus PhDanna ar mhic léinn i rith an lae ó Choláiste an Leighis, an Altranais agus na nEolaíochtaí Sláinte; ó Choláiste na hInnealtóireachta agus na hIonformaitice; ó Choláiste an Ghnó, an Bheartais Phoiblí agus an Dlí; ó Choláiste na hEolaíochta; agus ó Choláiste na nDán, na nEolaíochtaí Sóisialta agus an Léinn Cheiltigh. Críoch

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President McAleese Honours NUI Galway Teacher at National Awards Ceremony

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dr Aisling McCluskey from the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Maths at NUI Galway has been awarded a National Teaching Award by the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese. The awards were presented at a special ceremony in Dublin Castle on behalf of the National Academy for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL). More than one hundred guests attended the ceremony on 18 November including Higher Education Authority representatives, senior management of many higher education institutes as well as family and friends of the award winners. Jennifer Murphy, Manager of the National Academy, welcomed the guests and highlighted the significance of the awards programme in recognising and rewarding teaching in Higher Education. Winners of the five Awards were nominated by senior managers within their institutions and selected by a committee which included international representatives as well as representatives of the Irish University Association, the Institutes of Technology Ireland and the Union of Students in Ireland. The committee was chaired by Professor Áine Hyland, Chair of the Academy's international advisory board. Awards were also presented to Helena Lenihan, University of Limerick;; Amanda Gibney, University College Dublin; Susan Bergin NUI, Maynooth; and a team from the Dublin Institute of Technology - Michael Seery, Claire McDonnell, Christine O'Connor and Sarah Rawe. Bettie Higgs and Marian McCarthy from University College Cork received a Special Commendation. Despite the diversity of disciplines and Institutions represented, the award winners shared an enthusiasm for teaching that combines with their own research expertise to create an exciting learning environment for students. The Award comprised a crystal vase, a certificate and €5,000, which can be used for further professional development and enhancement of teaching. President McAleese presented the awards highlighting the significant role of integrating research, teaching and learning in the recovery of a sustainable economy. She encouraged teachers to lead by example and to provide innovative and creative teaching and learning opportunities in our higher education institutions. She added that the National Awards were a significant and welcome development in Irish Higher Education. Michael Kelly, Chairman of the HEA closed the ceremony, saying: "This morning I was inspired and inspiration runs throughout the approaches adopted by the award winners which make for attention grabbing teaching". Ends-

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