Public Engagement and public policy

As well as contributing to academic debates, geographers working in the School have successfully contributed to debates on a range of public policies as well as matters of wider social interest.

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Part of Julien Mercille’s recent work has focused on the critical political economy and media coverage of the European economic crisis, and in particular, the case of Ireland. As well as academic journal and manuscript publications, Julien has also made a number of interventions in the media and the public sphere. These include television, print, online, radio, and speeches at public meetings, in Ireland and internationally. Specifically, he has discussed and debated his research or related aspects of the economic crisis, such as the housing bubble and austerity on TV3 (Vincent Browne), RTE radio, Irish Times (print), Al-Jazeera, Russia Today (television), the Sunday Business Post (print), Social Europe Journal (online), and public talks for political candidates in relation to European elections. He was also asked to give evidence at the Joint Committee of Inquiry into the Banking Crisis in the Houses of the Oireachtas in March 2015. These  interventions have influenced public debate on the role of the media in covering the economic crisis.


As part of her broader work on higher education in Ireland, Dr Niamh Moore-Cherry was commissioned with Prof Suzanne Quin and Dr Elaine Burroughs to co-author a national study on student non-completion for the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. The study was based on responses from 4,036 students across the university, IoT and private colleges in the Republic of Ireland. It concluded that wrong course choice combined with issues related to social isolation, long commuting times and caring responsibilities explain a significant proportion of student withdrawals. The study provides an evidence-base for  the HEA and higher education institutions, informing the design and adoption of sector-wide responses to student withdrawal and reformulating policies on mobility in the higher education system.

Arlene Crampsie's research has focused on highlighting the role that local communities have played in shaping Irish landscapes from the nineteenth century to the present day. She is particularly interested in the role of colonial and post-colonial processes in shaping local geographies of power and identity and the operation of governmentality on and in local communities. As well as contributions to edited volumes and academic journals, Arlene has engaged in a wide range of community-focussed outreach in the form of public talks to local heritage and historical groups, training workshops in oral history and archival research and the development of a secondary school archival-based education pack for the Decade of Centenaries. Arlene has also contributed to and curated a range of online resources and exhibitions including features on the Poor Law in Donegal (as part of the Ask About Ireland portal); the development of Newry (a resource on the BBC/Open University co-production Town) and the online exhibition from the GAA Oral History Project. Her current research examining the role of the GAA in relation to Irish national and local place identities has recently been featured in The Irish Times.‌


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently planning the development of a morphological assessment of Irish rivers, to meet EU Water Framework Directive statutory requirements.The morphological assessment aims to assess the present form and context of rivers, assess if, and how, those characteristics have changed and develop better management, restoration and monitoring strategies. To assist in developing a classification system for Irish rivers and in making assessments of their condition, the EPA has asked Dr Colman Gallagher and Dr Jonathan Turner, both of the UCD School of Geography, to join its technical advisory group. As well as EPA staff, other members of the advisory group include Dr Martina Bussettini (Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Italy; ISPRA) and Dr Massimo Rinaldi  (University of Florence, Italy), who are involved with the development and implementation of a similar programme in Italy. The EPA advisory group has been tasked with ensuring that the principles, strategies and outputs of both the morphological classification and condition assessment are appropriate in Irish conditions.