Keynote Speaker

Matt Baillie Smith

Professor of International Development at Northumbria University

Baillie Smith’s research interests are centred on international development, citizenship and civil society, with particular interests in volunteering and development, development education and NGOs in the Global North and South. He also has interests in qualitative research methodologies in development and in processes of co-production between scholars and practitioners.


10.00 - 10.30: Welcome Refreshments

10.30 - 11.30: Sharing Experiences with Research (see abstracts below)

11.30 - 1.30: Keynote Speaker and Workshop

1.30 - 2.00: Lunch with social enterprise SAOL café

2.00 - 3.00: Optional Digital Badge Workshop about the The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education CPD programme. 


How to get to ILAS

The Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS) host our Symposium.

Directions:  Click Here for a Google Map to the ILAS Building

The building is located on the North end of the NUI Galway campus. Parking is available for guests and a temporary visitors pass will be emailed to attendees. 

Abstracts 2018

Stuart Garland, Volunteer Ireland

Measuring and Evaluating the Impact of Volunteer Programmes Using the Volunteer Impact Assessment

For too long many volunteer involving organisation (VIO) didn't have the resources or funds to carry out research into the impact of their volunteering.  In this session we will explore the Volunteer Impact Assessment Toolkit and how it can help VIOs to assess the impact of the volunteering to a range of stakeholders.  We will explore the fundamentals of the toolkit as well as explore recent assessments carried out by Volunteer Ireland on VIOs.

Rhonda Wynne, UCD in the Community

Community, Volunteering and Leadership: An Evolving Module

This presentation will outline the development of a new undergraduate module in UCD, Community, Volunteering and Leadership. The module was piloted in Spring 2017 and is running for the second time in Spring 2018. To register students must have at least 50 hours volunteering that can be vouched for by an organisation. This is part of a greater project to embed student volunteering supports and infrastructure across UCD. The starting philosophy is a belief in students as co-creators of knowledge, with the module providing a setting to learn collaboratively about the variety of contexts, issues, values and challenges they have encountered. In this module, the students are the experts with key insights from across a range of volunteering contexts, both within UCD, locally, across Ireland and internationally. The presentation will outline how the module integrates research, both through the consideration of the growing evidence on volunteering while also developing research skills. The aim is to provide students with a language to articulate their learning from community involvement, and a framework to situate their own experience in a broader context which accounts for the personal, social and economic value of volunteering. Classes are run on a participative basis with case studies, group work, in class research tasks, presentations, and a Dragon’s Den style forum to analyse, dissect and reflect on both the context, experience, and impact of volunteering. The module is also a source of data and narrative about student volunteering and informs our work as we develop further student community engagement initiatives and modules.

Áine Lynch, Comhlámh

Striving for Standards in Volunteering

Comhlámh is the Irish association of Development Workers and Volunteers. Through a Code of Good Practice (COGP) we work to support volunteer sending agencies (VSA’s) across Ireland to uphold and implement good practice standards in sending volunteers to the global south. With the support of over 40 volunteer sending agencies from Ireland, Comhlámh guide organisations through self-assessment of their organisational practice. Part of Comhlámh’s work is also to provide individuals, such as potential volunteers and returned development workers, with supports and services to consider responsible volunteering options and to engage critically in global solidarity and social justice issues. In recent years, Comhlámh have been involved in a number of consortia projects as part of the EU Aid Volunteer Initiative (EUAVI), to exchange best practices from sending organisations in the EU and hosting organisations in the global south. The EUAVI engages European volunteers in humanitarian orientated projects in the global south. Before organisations can deploy or host volunteers, they must obtain certification under the EUAVI. These certification standards outline the important areas in which organisations must carry out a self-assessment of their practices as it relates to sending and hosting an EU Aid volunteer.  The need to maintain standards in this sector is stronger now more than ever as there can be many shortfalls of humanitarian volunteering. The increased engagement of volunteers responding to the refugee context in the EU is evident. However, it is an emergent area and very little has been documented on the humanitarian volunteer responses within the EU.

Dr Maura Farrell, School of Geography and Archaeology, NUI Galway

Project-Based Learning: Rural Volunteerism

This paper is based on pedagogical knowledge gained from delivering a Project Based-Learning (PBL) initiative for Final Year NUI Galway, Geography students.  The instructional and curriculum approach empowers students to conduct research and integrate theory and practice, while also providing for the requirements of organisers, the subject matter and society.  The project is a collaborative venture undertaken by Dr Maura Farrell (NUI Galway), Volunteer Ireland, Volunteer Galway, Pat Kennedy (eTownz) and Community Knowledge Initiative, (CKI) at NUI Galway.  Project aims are two-fold in that key goals are to increase student engagement in the assignment process and enhance their knowledge and skills, while also ascertaining the impact of voluntary work in rural communities.  Measuring the impact of rural volunteerism is highly significant to the social, cultural and economic fabric of many rural regions, with the work carried out by many volunteers becoming integral to the personal and collective experiences of many communities.  The project methodology objectifies its aims by devising a series of tasks for students to collect a data base of voluntary activities carried out in their respective local rural areas.  The series of assignments allow an increased understanding of the significance of volunteerism in rural society as well as allowing students an opportunity to develop an understanding of why rural inhabitants engage in volunteerism and what is gained from participation.  The writing, communication, teamwork and research skills of participating students will be enhanced; making their learning more relevant and integrated.  Adding to the project methodology, the impact of rural volunteerism will also be ascertained via an impact assessment carried out by Volunteer Ireland and visualised by Pat Kennedy.  Although findings and results of the impact of rural volunteerism are still at the initial analysis stage; the project has already proven to be highly engaging for the student body with over 90% involvement in all stages of the assignment process.

Lorraine Tansey, ALIVE Student Volunteering Programme, NUI Galway  

Critical Reflections on Student Volunteering: A Practice Based Inquiry 

This presentation shares the findings of the practice inquiry based research at the ALIVE programme at NUI Galway. Student volunteers engage with local schools and youth clubs over the past ten years and reflect on the experience for the annual campus award in recognition of learning from volunteering. A practice based inquiry utilises action based research methods to improve practice and create change. Through a critical engagement with the literature and student reflections the ALIVE programme amended the award reflection portfolio to draw out students insights on social justice.  

Holly Dignam, UCD in the Community

The presentation will provide attendees with an understanding of (, the national online platform for student volunteering in Ireland. is a network of Irish Higher Education institutions that have come together to create an online resource to connect third level students and community groups, charities, schools, hospitals, public bodies and NGOs across Ireland. is funded by each Higher Education member institution and Campus Engage. To provide context, there will be a brief description provided of the origin of and the working group within Campus Engage and the Irish Universities Association. The presentation will inform attendees of the drivers and context of, with a particular focus on information relating to the platform and how it is of benefit to students, civil society organisations and Higher Education Institutes. The presentation will conclude with an overview of current statistics from and how the data that has been collected has shaped the work that we do and will continute to do in the future.