Launch of the Trinity Electives

Saloon, Provost's House

27th March 2019

Good evening, everyone,

Welcome to the Saloon for the launch of the Trinity Electives. This is an exciting moment for us, the culmination of many years’ work.

In the current Strategic Plan, launched 2014, we prioritised as Goal 3, ‘Renew the Trinity Education’. The Trinity Education Project, or TEP, has been the means by which we have achieved this, and the Trinity Electives are central to TEP.

Trinity Electives have an impact right across the college. They deeply affect all staff and students – that’s evident from the range of people here today: Heads of School, Faculty Deans, Online and Digital Services staff, SU officers, and module coordinators as well of course as the TEP subgroup, steering committee and project team. You are all most welcome. Today is about introducing the Electives to the whole college community, and thanking all who have made them possible.

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As you know, the Trinity Education Project grew out of the need to reflect and anticipate the transformational changes that are happening globally, in higher education and society generally. These include:

  • The changing jobs market and work environment – in particular the growth of the digital workplace and the need for entrepreneurial skill sets;
  • the technology revolution;
  • the development of new disciplines, and interdisciplinarity;
  • increased staff and student mobility across institutions and countries;
  • the development of global academic networks and partnerships, and
  • the increased centrality of universities to the economic and social development of their regions.

Cumulatively these transformations fundamentally alter graduate career trajectories. Today’s graduates will likely change jobs, cities and countries frequently; they will need to constantly update skills to keep on top of changes in technology and work practices. They will have to be self-starting and remain open to learning new things throughout their careers. And they will have to take responsibility for tackling global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, and inequality.

With all this in mind, the starting point of TEP was to identify the graduate attributes needed for career and life success and then to embed the attributes through the seven features of a Trinity education
Co-curriculum reflection,
Global mobility,
the Capstone project and
Employability and Leadership programmes. Just yesterday we celebrated the Employability Award in the Professional Services Pathway.

The Trinity Electives are one of these seven key initiatives. The development of the Electives has been driven by Áine Kelly, chair of the Trinity Electives Subgroup, and Declan O’Sullivan, the Trinity Electives ‘champion’ – with the support of the Subgroup.

Let’s take a look now at this video in which Áine and Declan present the Trinity Electives.

As Áine and Declan make clear here, the Trinity Electives are cohesive with the university’s research themes and are designed to help undergraduates gain the Trinity graduate attributes.

I understand that 27 Trinity Electives will be on offer by September. Already 19 of these Electives have prepared short exploratory videos.

I’ve had a look at quite a number of these and I’m hugely impressed – at the breadth of choice on offer and at the creativity and enthusiasm of the module coordinators.

Let’s take a look at a few of these videos so you get an idea of what I’m talking about.


I think I speak for many of us when I say ‘I wish these Electives had been around in my undergraduate years’. As an engineering student, deeply immersed in maths and mechanics, I would have been thrilled to have the opportunity to explore ‘Travel Memoirs and Memorabilia’, using the extraordinary manuscripts in Trinity’s Library; or to engage with Science Gallery through the Idea Translation Lab.

Breadth of knowledge and flexibility of thinking are so important. They always have been but in the 21st century they are ever more so. It’s vital that we deliver for our students. It hasn’t been an easy task. I know what’s involved in designing courses and curricula. It’s challenging and time-consuming – the Electives are particularly challenging because they must be accessible to students for whom the area is not a core discipline, and at the same time they must be deep enough to engage junior sophisters.

I think all involved have done a phenomenal job. I congratulate and thank to moderators of each Trinity Elective, most of whom are here this evening – take a bow!

Also Áine, Declan, the Subgroup, and the project team. The numbers of people involved in making the Electives happen show just what a broad and challenging task this was.

Generations of students and graduates will now benefit from your work – as will the societies whom they will serve.

And now I’d like to invite the Student Union Education Officer, Aimee Connolly, to talk about the importance of the Electives from a student standpoint.

[Aimee speaks, 5 minutes]

Thank you so much Aimee – and indeed I hope you speak for all students! Such enthusiasm is inspirational and reminds us of the importance of renewing the undergraduate curriculum.

Let me conclude by wishing each Elective every success. My thanks to all.

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