Maura Adshead BA, MA Research (Limerick), PhD (Liverpool) is Professor of Politics and Public Administration in the University of Limerick and one of Ireland’s leading academics in the field of politics and public policy. She is a former president of the Political Studies Association of Ireland and a regular political commentator on Irish TV, radio, newspapers and online journals in Ireland and internationally. Alongside this public engagement, she is also a strong advocate for community engagement, using her position to drive an engaged research agenda in Ireland concerning both engaged research praxis and policies. At national level, her work with the Irish Universities Association (IUA) and Campus Engage has led to the 2017 report, Engaged Research. Society and Higher Education. Addressing Grand Societal Challenges Together. This report, which itself is the outcome of a highly engaged and collaborative national consultation process, presents a nationally agreed trans-disciplinary framework for best practice engaged research. At local level, in the University of Limerick, she was instrumental in the design and establishment of UL Engage – a cross-faculty unit designed to support all forms of engaged scholarship. In September 2015, she was appointed as the University of Limerick Academic Advocate for Engaged Scholarship. In this position, Maura has designed and delivered training workshops for academic staff in engaged research (funded by the IRC, Enterprise Ireland and SFI) engaged pedagogies and community-university partnership building; as well as workshops for communities interested in, or in the process of, collaborating with the university. In her own research area, she has been involved in a number of successful community-university partnership collaborations and was selected as one of the first UL Research Impact case studies for her work developing policy research and civic engagement. Aside from her reputation, impact and scholarship, Maura has a political commitment to genuine partnership in university-community collaborations, in order to promote active citizenship and community development. Maura’s work evidences a genuine regard for non-academic experiential knowledge as a means to harvest tacit knowledge and develop real insight into her work.
I am already involved in IFWEA educational activities:
- Educating for Empowerment (mentoring the post-doctoral scholar in the Educating for Empowerment project, delivering associated workshops and training, as well as participating in reflective partnership in the Study Circle),
- Developing graduate and undergraduate curriculum in Engaged Research with IFWEA affiliates.
In Limerick I am involved in several cognate educational activities
- I direct a community co-designed diploma programme for adult learners in under-served communities, which is intended to draw university resources to locally initiated community development projects and activities.
- In collaboration with local youth services, I convene joint university-community workshops on active citizenship and political mobilisation.
- I am course director for a new MA programme on Community Research, designed in collaboration with community partners to provide real-life training, in real community projects.
- I am the coordinator for an Ireland/ UNESCO ‘Knowledge 4 Change’ project designed to train academic staff and community practitioners in community based research. This project is a national pilot for re-oriented Irish universities to effective community engagement, that is, mindful engagement that is reciprocal, respectful and goal oriented.
I think that I could use my position on the IFWEA Executive Committee to draw useful connections and strategic collaborations between all of this work – for project work, educational programmes, research and funding.