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Trinity Long Room Hub and AONTAS awarded under IRC’s New Foundations Scheme

9 April 2021 - The Irish Research Council (IRC) has awarded funding for 76 New Foundations projects aimed at bringing researchers and community/voluntary organisations together to share knowledge and develop new insights to help create a better society for all.

The Trinity Long Room Hub’s project in partnership with AONTAS (The National Adult Learner Organisation) has been awarded €11,985.00 under strand two of the scheme ‘Engaging civic society’ and is one of eight projects awarded within Trinity College Dublin. Professor Eve Patten, Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub is the Principal Investigator on the project ‘Community Engagement Praxis for Research in the Arts and Humanities (CEPRAH)’ which will focus on the value that Arts and Humanities research can bring to activity in the civic and community sphere, including policies in this area.

To date the inclusion of insights from these disciplines into policy for this sector has been hampered by a lack of understanding on the part of both the researchers and civil society practitioners around the best methods and pathways to adopt in order to work effectively together. This project will shed light on these methods and pathways to better enable the inclusion of the types of critical insights these disciplines can bring to the policy making process. The concept of ‘praxis’ refers to the translation of theory into real-world practice.

The project aligns to both the AONTAS Strategic Plan, which stresses the advancement of social inclusion and equality (2019-20), and the Hub’s Policy Initiative (2020), which aims to improve the policy relevance of AH research.  

CEPRAH will produce guidelines for the integration of Arts and Humanities research into social and civic policies at a grassroots level using democracy initiatives as a case study. The first of these is the Hub’s Crises of Democracy research project and, the second is AONTAS’ initiatives in community education in democracy.

The project aims to encourage future challenge-based cross-sectoral research projects from across the wider AH research community targeted in particular towards the Horizon Europe framework programme.  

Dr Elspeth Payne, Beate Schuler Research Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub, and Dr Caoimhe Whelan, who is leading the Hub’s policy initiative, will both work closely with the Director Eve Patten on this project as part of the Arts and Humanities Democracy Initiative. More information on the Hub’s recent Crises of Democracy project is available here.  

Dr. Eve Cobain, Research Officer and Dr Leah Dowdall, Head of Research, will be leading on this project from AONTAS.

Professor Eve Patten, PI and Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub said: “I am delighted that our project has been awarded under the IRC’s New Foundations Scheme and that we have the opportunity to explore new avenues for Arts and Humanities research in engaging with civic issues around democracy and with practitioners in the community. We’re looking forward to working with AONTAS on what promises to be an important new direction for the Trinity Long Room Hub in terms of policy impact.”

AONTAS CEO, Dr Niamh O’Reilly commented: “As a civil society organisation striving for educational equality for adults, this meaningful collaboration with the Trinity Long Room Hub will further our collective efforts towards a more equal society. By drawing on our pool of expertise, and that of the community education sector, we will unite theory with the lived experiences of those who are the focus of policy, opening up opportunities to offer authentic solutions to systemic issues.”

Find out more about the awards from the lrish Research Council here.


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