Trinity Research in Childhood Centre was launched with a conference showcasing innovative and compelling interdisciplinary childhood research work. Trinity has a 21-year history of hosting a Children’s Research Centre, based in the Schools of Psychology and Social Work and Social Policy. The new Trinity Research in Childhood Centre builds on this foundation by connecting world-class academics in Schools across Trinity Faculties, generating new ideas and nurturing future generations of childhood researchers. The Centre will deliver innovative and collaborative research which will help enhance our understanding of the child’s world to better inform policies and interventions to improve all our futures
Over the past decade, advances in research have resulted in new understandings of child development. We are now able to better appreciate the connections between genetic inheritance and familial and societal contexts and the interplay between these. Advances in biology and neurology have served to make the once hidden impact of environmental stimuli visible, as we trace the effects of both optimal and suboptimal environments on the developing child. And, while once we were concerned to measure child development within the artificial timeline of birth to 18 years, we are now able to trace the imprint of pre and post birth environments across the life course. Our early experiences are foundational for our lives. Such advances have served to challenge our traditional ways of capturing and transmitting knowledge and intervening to improve lives.
The Conference – Foundations for Life: Children’s Research at Trinity marking the launch of Trinity Research in Childhood Centre welcomed keynote speaker: Professor Mark Bellis, Research Director, Public Health Wales. In his presentation, ‘Building Stronger Children – Adverse Childhood Experiences and their role in health and well-being across the life-course’, Professor Bellis set out the evidence that early experience is fundamental in influencing our life chances.
In ‘Foundations for Life: Using longitudinal data to understand the influence of childhood on adult health and well-being – Growing Up in Ireland and The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing’ – Professor Richard Layte and Dr Cathal McCrory and colleagues demonstrated the unique contribution of longitudinal studies in helping us understand the relationships between early experiences and later health, social and economic outcomes.
In ‘Translational Child Psychiatry: A pathway from genes to behaviour’ – Professor Louise Gallagher, examined the complex interplay between genetic inheritance and social presentation.
In ‘The inscription of meaning: An interdisciplinary approach to understanding child sexual abuse’ – Dr Simon McCarthy-Jones and colleagues, examined the ways in which child sexual abuse may be better understood and societal and professional developments, helpful to victims, promoted.
In ‘Disentangling facts and fictions: Girls with disabilities in West Africa’ – Professor Carol Newman and colleagues outlined economic and social science approaches to better understanding the absence of disabled girls in West Africa.
Commenting on the conference, Professor in Childhood Research, Trevor Spratt and co-director of the new Trinity Research in Childhood Centre said: “Such complex research areas demonstrate why it is critical that we build bridges across research, policy and professional boundaries. The structures should follow the science. This challenges the way we organise universities, government departments and the professions. Trinity’s response to such challenges has been to establish the Trinity Research in Childhood Centre. Building on our history of interdisciplinary research, which was previously led by the Children’s Research Centre, the key aim of our new centre is to connect research endeavours across our schools and faculties so as to enhance our ability to undertake truly groundbreaking research with an international reach.”