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School Research Projects

The School of Geography conducts research on a variety of issues in human and physical geography. School research is diverse but it coalesces around interventions to address real world problems guided by strong theoretical foundations.

ResearcherJulien Mercille

This project examines the growth of private firms and investment funds in the long-term care sector, i.e. home care and nursing homes. The privatisation, marketisation and financialisation of the sector is evolving rapidly both in Ireland and Europe. The project seeks to identify the key players, processes and consequences of these transformations. The project is currently investigating the situation in Ireland in depth and will proceed shortly to extend its focus to other European countries. Theoretically, the project's approach is rooted in critical political economy.

FunderIrish Research Council

ResearcherAlun Jones

Much geographical work has highlighted the difficulties of viewing emotion as a universally recognizable phenomenon. This has prompted more recent consideration of emotion as a cultural construct that lends itself to analysis only within the context in which it takes place. This permits emphasis to be placed on the inter-language, inter-cultural and inter-individual contexts of emotion use in geopolitics. Here, I argue, lies the sharper geographical sensibility to emotion, its performance and its effects on others by connecting space with (geo) political process . This spatial grounding of emotions offers a useful way to explore how political representations work out  in everyday life, not least by shifting focus upon the body (ies) as loci at which geopolitical power is made and contested and, crucially, co-constituted with the international. 

ResearchersKath Browne, Liz Ablett, Aoife Grant, Sarah Foudy and Anni Ziegler

This project seeks to move ‘Beyond Opposition’ in the face of increasing social polarisation in the UK, Canada and Ireland. It considers how recent social and legal changes to sexual and gender rights impact different people within these countries. The project focuses on the experiences of individuals or groups who do not support these changes. This includes, for example, people who believe that marriage should only occur between men and women and/or that families should be based on a heterosexual union. It also includes those who are concerned about the legalisation of abortion and/or people who disagree with, or question, transgender inclusion policies. In the latter stages the project will seek to bring together those from differing 'sides', to explore how to engage difference, differently.  

Project website: www.beyondopposition.org


ResearcherCarla Maria Kayanan

Dublin’s tech-sector is on an upward trajectory—from start-ups to multinational corporations. Simultaneously, Dublin’s homeless population is also on the rise. This research investigates if, and how, tech-sector development in Dublin is impacting housing provision in the city-region by comparing two Dublin neighbourhoods at different stages of the ‘tech-development’ life cycle. Development trajectories will be matched against data collected by the Dublin Regional Homeless Executive on when homeless individuals present for services, and from Threshold, a national housing charity, on where renters struggle with the private market. Furthermore, assessments of planning proposals for the two neighbourhoods will inform policy-based solutions.

FunderIRC New Foundations

Read more about the project here.

In collaboration with the Southern Regional Assembly (SRA), this project explores how traditional urban-rural dynamics and inter-metropolitan dichotomies in Ireland might be
realigned to support the strategic objectives of enhanced collaboration across regional cities, compact growth and regional economic opportunity to support those areas that have been left-behind by recent economic developments. The project explores the opportunities and tensions of governance at a range of scales and the extent to which Ireland’s regional cities can form a defined counterbalance to the dominance of Dublin and the east. This is done through embedded research and policy workshops in partnership with the Southern Regional Assembly as Enterprise Partner.

Funded by the Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme in partnership with the Southern Regional Assembly.


FunderIRC Enterprise Partnership Scheme

Read more about the project here.

ResearchersNiamh Moore-Cherry, Carla Maria Kayanan and John Tomaney

Cities are key drivers of economic growth and significant contributors to national prosperity. Across the European Union and other parts of the world, well-organised metropolitan regions are being promoted as ‘national champions’ to drive investment and development. This process has accelerated since the economic downturn of 2008 and government policies have actively intervened in support of promoting larger cities through capital investment decisions and governance reform to ensure more coherent metropolitan development. Ireland has come relatively late to these debates on metropolitanisation despite the negative outcomes of previously poor governance and decision-making, which has had significant implications for the quality of life of urban dwellers. In February 2018, the government of Ireland published the National Planning Framework (NPF) to address deficiencies in infrastructure planning, urban governance and to alter Ireland’s increasingly unsustainable development trajectory. As part of the NPF, new Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies to coordinate development will be produced, including Metropolitan Area Spatial Plans (MASP’s) for the five major cities. This research project focuses on the MASP’s and their ability to deliver on some of the strategic national outcomes identified in the NPF including more compact urban growth, enhanced regional accessibility, a strong economy and sustainable mobility. Through collaborative engagement with policy partners, participant observations and interviews with key stakeholders, the potential of the MASP’s as a new approach to planning and their impact on how urban development will evolve is examined. The research will inform wider international debates on how metropolitanisation processes happen in different contexts and will also provide a crucial input to policymaking in Ireland.

Read more about the project here.

Twitter: @irelandmetro


ResearchersNiamh Moore-Cherry with collaborators: Sonia Freire Trigo and Jess Ferm (University College London); Maciej Smetkowski (University of Warsaw) and Zhao Zhang (Zhejiang Normal University)

The concentration of economic growth into large metropolises is widely documented across Europe. Yet, planning of this growth at the strategic metropolitan scale shows significant variation influenced in part by historical development trajectories and public policy choices. This research focuses primarily on European cities including London and Warsaw, but is also relevant to previous and ongoing work in Nanjing, China.

ResearchersJacky Croke with collaborators Micha Cambell (UCD Geography), Andrew Parnell and Niamh Cahill (Maynooth University), Kate Hughes, John Vitkovsky, and Ramona Della Pozza (Queensland Government)

Paleoclimate research provides the opportunity to look at climate variability beyond the relatively short timeline of instrumental records. This proves especially useful in identifying trends, patterns or cycles in climate events (i.e. multi-year droughts, decadal periods with clustering of major flood events) that may be missing in short records. This project provides an opportunity to develop a methodology to incorporate palaeoclimate proxy data into water security planning for Queensland. Specifically, it provides a methodology for the inclusion of this data into climate adaptation and water security programs by using specific case studies in Queensland. It also delivers an online database of all local and remote data that can be used for the purpose of modelling and managing flood and drought risk in Queensland under a changing climate.

Project website: www.palaeoclimate.com.au

FunderDepartment of Enviornment and Science, Queensland Government Australia; Drought Adapation Program and SEQWater

ResearchersJacky Croke, Sam Kelley, Apolline Mariotti, (UCD Geography and Earth Sciences) and Rebecca Bartley (CSIRO Australia) 

Accelerated sediment delivery offshore to the Great Barrier Reef is well documented over several decades. Current government policies assume all catchments contribute a similar 'natural' baseline sediment flux in spite of clear differences in catchment topography, climate and land use. This project further explores the application of Be10, a cosmogenic radionuclide, to test within, and between catchment variations in long-term denundation rates. Once established these estimates can support a more strategic policy which recognises inherent variability in both natural and anthropogenic sediment loads. 


ResearchersJacky Croke, Tasnuba Jerin (UCD Geography); Conor Murphy (Maynooth University) Louise Slater (Oxford University UK) Ben Jarihani (SCU). 

This project uses available digital elevation data for the entire Rebublic of Irealnd (ROI) in combination with streamflow and channel morphology data to construct a classification of the hydromorphology of Irish rivers. This project feeds into current initiatives such as the European Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Office of Public Works (OPW) Flood Studies Unit. It will provide a comprehensive assessment of the nature and characteristics of the hydrology and geomorphology of Irish rivers.

ResearchersAinhoa González and Peter Connell (UCD Geography), Justin Gleeson (Maynooth University) and Eoghan Mc Carthy (Maynooth University)

The aim of this project is to develop a Local Area Renewable Energy Strategies (LARES) Webtool to map environmental, technical and planning considerations to assist in the determination of areas that may be suitable for renewable energy technologies. The approach is based on the assessment of sectoral constraints and facilitators as recommended in the LARES methodology (SEAI, 2013). The Webtool will be composed of two parts: 1) A Viewer that will centralise spatial datasets covering primary environmental, technical and planning considerations for five renewable energy technology types (i.e. wind, solar, wave and tidal, geothermal and biomass); and 2) a Widget or participative bespoke geoprocessing tool to facilitate examination of the suitability of lands for renewable energy development.

ResearchersAinhoa González and David Jordan (UCD Geography), and Justin Gleeson and Eoghan Mc Carthy (Maynooth University)

This project maintains and further develops the Environmental Sensitivity Mapping (ESM) Webtool (www.enviromap.ie). This is a novel GIS decision-support tool for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and planning processes in Ireland. Bringing together more than 100 public datasets, the tool allows planners to examine environmental considerations within their plan area and create plan-specific environmental sensitivity maps. These maps can help planners anticipate potential land-use conflicts, thus informing the identification of suitable development locations while protecting the environment. 

ResearchersAinhoa González and Keletso Malepe (UCD Geography)

This project aims to review the status of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) links in Ireland, through a review of case studies and focused interviews and guided by identified international good practice. Its main output will be a practical guidance note about how SEA-EIA links and tiering could be improved to streamline and strengthen environmental assessment practice.

ResearchersAinhoa González and Tobi Morakinyo (UCD Geography), Shane McGuinness and Enda Murphy (School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy), and Lyn Hagin Meade, Tom and Graiine (Dundrum2030)

This project develops an academic-community partnership with Dundrum 2030, to: 1) facilitate and influence national Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) monitoring, by developing a UN-aligned local indicator set and building the capacity of communities to measure progress in the achievement of SDGs; and 2) track progress on the ground towards the achievement of SDGs. The outputs are to ensure replicability in local monitoring efforts by creating an indicator-led toolkit and supporting dashboard for communities. It will contribute to addressing current local data and knowledge gaps on the achievement of SDGs, feed into national and UN reporting mechanisms, and trigger similar actions in other communities.

Researcher: Bradley Garrett

Prepping is a practice of anticipating and adapting to impending conditions of calamity, ranging from low-level crises to extinction-level events. The COVID-19 pandemic, which preppers consider a 'mid-level' event, and which many of them were well-prepared for, makes clear that scholarly attention to prepper's motivations and methods is both timely and valuable. Drawing from three-years of ethnographic research with preppers, this project tells the story of over a dozen private underground communities around the world. The research reveals that the media caricatures developed around prepping are undermined by fieldwork with groups that are politically, socially and ideologically diverse. The boltholes preppers are building in closed communities built to survive the collapse of society, order, and even the environment itself, refract the seemingly irresolvable problems we are failing to address as a species. In the prepper ideology, faith in adaptation has supplanted hope of mitigation, making contemporary bunkers more speculative than reactionary and more temporal than spatial. The bunkers preppers build are arks to cross through a likely (but often unspecified) catastrophe; they are a chrysalis from which to be reborn - potentially even into an improved milieu. During the current pandemic, many of us wonder what is on the other side. Preppers have an answer to that: it’s the post-apocalyptic world.

Project websitewww.bradleygarrett.com/bunker

FunderUniversity of Sydney (Sydney Fellowship)

ReseacherFederico Ferretti 

Works ongoing on this research line are fostering something like a Copernican Revolution in the way the 'geographical tradition' is understood, questioning commonplaces on the traditional places and protagonists in the production of geographical knowledge. Ongoing research is increasingly showing how, beyond the imperial, Eurocentric and patriarchal 'core' of (European and Anglo-American) geographical traditions, a plurality of unorthodox actors played roles in fostering dissidence and in producing knowledge from different standpoints, being they political dissidents, non-academic scholars, early women travellers, Black and indigenous people, leading scholars from the Global South, people publishing in different languages and forms than those of mainstream academia, just to give few examples. While this research supports methodologically the approaches issued from the spatial and practice turn in social science and from contextualism (in opposition to internalism), it strongly advocates  non-dogmatic uses of theory, which should be intended as a flexible toolbox to be constantly verified in relation to its empirical fields of application rather than an authoritarian framework to which reality should conform. 

ResearchersChristine Bonnin, Ainhoa González (UCD), Truong Thi Anh Tuyet and Ho Ngoc Son (Thai Nguyen University), Tien Nguyen Thi Minh (Hanoi University).

Vietnam is among the most vulnerable nations to climate change globally. Yet, the diverse, interconnected impacts of climate change are geographically and socially unequal. Groups in society who tend to be most vulnerable are most acutely exposed to risks. This is especially so for ethnic minority communities in the northern upland region which depend on household-based agriculture and natural resource-based livelihoods that are greatly influenced by climatic conditions. At the same time, households and communities living in challenging environments have often developed viable coping strategies as well as longer-term adaptations to difficult environmental conditions that may contribute to resilience. However, the prioritisation of scientific and technical knowledges in climate change mitigation and adaptation planning often results in the exclusion or discounting of local, non-expert realities. This project adopts an inclusive, participatory approach to assessing climate change vulnerabilities and resilience among ethnic minority communities. It seeks to better understand ethnic minority individuals’ and communities’ lived experiences with, and responses to their changing local environmental conditions, and to enable a more complete understanding of the effects of climate change in people’s lives. 

Funder: Department of Foreign Affairs/Irish Aid

ResearchersSojan Mathew and Colman Gallagher

This project investigates the shoreline changes, coastal vulnerability and beach dune morphodynamics along County Wexford using a range of remote sensing and geophysical physical techniques.

ResearchersColman Gallagher and Sojan Mathew

This project explores the possibilities of generating historic DEMs, orthophotos and orthophoto mosaicss using aerial film negatives (as opposed to contact prints) and its applications in estimating decadal shoreline change rates and beach dune sediment budget.

ResearchersArlene Crampsie and Conor Murphy (Maynooth University) with Eva Jobbová (UCD Geography), Csaba Horvath (Maynooth University), and collaborators Dr Francis Ludlow (Trinity College Dublin) and Prof Robert McLeman (Wilfred Laurier University)

Drought is an overlooked climate hazard in Ireland. However as Summer 2018 has shown, droughts do occur often with serious consequences for water supplies, agriculture, flora and fauna. Multi-year periods with limited rainfall are historically common and it is likely that the frequency and/or severity of droughts in Ireland will increase in coming decades. This IRC COALESCE funded project aims to reconstruct historic Irish droughts using existing climatic records, tree-ring data, historic documents, folklore records, and the collection of oral histories. It investigates the ways past societies were impacted by and coped with past drought events. We are learning from people’s pasts to help develop new ways to deal with future drought events.

Project websitewww.ucd.ie/droughtmemories

Funder: Irish Research Council Coalesce