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Mary Immaculate College establishes Institute for Educational & Social Policy Studies Mary Immaculate College establishes Institute for Educational & Social Policy Studies


MIC establishes Educational & Social Policy Studies Institute



Pictured at the recent launch of the Institute for Educational & Social Policy Studies [PRISEM] at MIC were Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, Geography Department; Dr. Aisling Leavy, lecturer in Mathematics Education and Prof. Gary O’Brien, Associate Vice President of Administration; MIC, joint coordinators of the Institute.

Speaking at the launch of Institute for Educational & Social Policy Studies (PRISEM) at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick Prof. Michael A Hayes explained how Institutes allow us to add an extra layer to what we do in academic life; they are all about collaboration, cooperation, communication and connections between academics across the Humanities and Social Sciences.

According to the Coordinators of PRISEM; Prof. Gary O’Brien, Associate Vice President; Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, Geography Department and Dr. Aisling Leavy, lecturer in Mathematics Education, MIC; PRISEM was established to advance research about current educational and social policy, to foster knowledge and best-practice, to promote social inclusion and the delivery of excellence in education. The ‘PRISEM’ element of the Institute’s nomenclature was chosen to evoke a sense of collegiality and a commitment to multi-disciplinarily in the study of education and social policy.

Speaking at the launch Prof. Hayes said “This institute will allow our researchers in different disciplines to create new interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary constellations of knowledge, and to offer new perspectives on different aspects of Educational & Social Policy. It will allow us to bring together different disciplines and allow them to liberate new areas of meaning and knowledge through their interaction and at their points of intersection. It will also facilitate our contact with academics from national and international institutions, and in time, it will allow us to attract new students to MIC, both through traditional and blended models of teaching and learning”.


According to Dr. Brendan O’Keeffe, “Mary Immaculate College is renowned for its expertise in the fields of education and social policy. This new Institute draws on, and supports this in-house expertise, and will see Mary Immaculate College making further and renewed contributions to enhancing education and social policy in Ireland, and by extension to improving practices in all levels of education”.

Dr. Aisling Leavy expanded on this saying “By facilitating research and supporting inter-disciplinary collaborations, the Institute for Education and Social Policy will seek to empower staff and postgraduate researchers to strengthen the evidence-based underpinning policy and practice”.

While Prof. Gary O’Brien remarked that “PRISEM will provide a vehicle through which statutory bodies, policy makers and stakeholders in education engage in wider consultations and better inform the decisions they take”.

Key note speaker at the inaugural event was Prof. James Williams, Research Professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute where he has been Principal Investigator of the government-funded Growing Up in Ireland study since its inception in 2006. His talk, entitled ‘Growing Up in Ireland – its Relevance for Applied Research’ looked at the development of two groups of children of different ages, conducting interviews with them at various intervals through their lives The main aim of the study, according to Prof. Williams, is to paint a full picture of children in Ireland and how they are developing in the current social, economic and cultural environment. This information is then being used to assist in evidence-informed policy formation and in the planning of child and family services.

The event also included a presentation from Ruth Madden, Dr. Mary Moloney, Dr. Máire Mhic Mhathúna and Dr. Emer Ring entitled An Examination of Concepts of School Readiness among Parents and Educators in Ireland and a presentation from Dr. Anne Higgins, Prof. Des McCafferty and Dr. Eileen Humphreys entitled How are our Kids? Experiences and Needs of Children and Families in Limerick City with a Particular Emphasis on Limerick’s Regeneration Areas.

Following the talk there was an academic poster display, exhibiting the wide range of research work currently being undertaken by MIC academics. Topics covered included Economic Crisis, Quality of Work and Social Integration: Topline Results from Rounds 2 and 5 of the European Social Survey presented by Prof. Michael Breen; Bringing the university to the community: The Pre-university Programme presented by Brian Clancy; The Effectiveness of Digital Technologies in Higher Education Lectures presented by Dr. Kerry Greer; Dr. Deirdre Ryan, Aoife McLoughlin and Michelle Glasheen; Policy on Education about Religions and Beliefs, and Ethics in Irish Primary Schools, presented by Patricia Kieran.

This is the third institute to be recently established by the College following the launch of the Institute for Irish Studies in February of this year and the Institute for Catholic Studies, which was launched in December 2013.

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Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.