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Civic Engagement: DCU in the Community

President's Awards for Engagement 2014

President's Awards for Engagement 2014

In a week which saw more than 180 female candidates returned to local councils throughout the country, Michelle O’Donnell Keating, co-founder of Women for Election, has been awarded the DCU President’s Awards for Engagement for her efforts to increase the number of women actively participating in all levels of political life.  Michelle, a PhD student at DCU’s School of Law & Government, was honoured in the Student category while Dr Eithne Kennedy of St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra received the Staff award for her Write to Read project, a literacy intervention for disadvantaged communities in urban areas.

Launched on International Women’s Day 2012, Women for Election aims to transform the gender balance of Irish politics.  It has empowered and enabled almost 600 women in preparation for a career in politics and public life, and now works with women from 17 states across the European Union whose goal is to run for election in their home country. 

The Write to Read Project grew out of doctoral research by Dr Eithne Kennedy who has worked with some 1400 children, 120 teachers, and 5 community groups. It aims to raise literacy levels in disadvantaged urban communities through its whole school approach to literacy where parents will be empowered and children will be supported to develop reading and writing as lifelong habits. 

A Special Merit Award in the Staff category was presented to Dr Raphaela Kane, DCU School of Nursing and Human Sciences and Mr Tom Bisset from Finglas Addiction Support Team for the Recovery Coaching and Addiction in the Community Project.  The project provides an opportunity to shape the recovery movement in Ireland and represents authentic community engagement.

DCU Horticulture (Grow Your Own) Society was presented with the Special Merit Award in the Student category for the DCU Community Garden Revival project – transforming a disused land within DCU campus grounds into an educational, research and outreach space that focusses on bringing DCU and its surrounding community together and promoting sustainability.

Designed to celebrate the engagement of staff and students in the life of the wider community, the President’s Awards for Engagement recognise outstanding contributions by staff and students across a wide range of activities such as social regeneration and community empowerment, social enterprise and local economic development, sustainability and voluntary initiatives.  The awardees were all singled out for their passion for equality of access, and the ambitious level of their engagement with local and national communities.

Professor Ronnie Munck, Head of Civic Engagement, said the awards testify to a growing commitment by staff and students alike to all forms of engagement with the wider society.  He commented, “In a period marked by a dearth of alternatives, this work shows a real bubbling-up of social innovation and a will to transformation in many sectors.  This year’s winners, the whole raft of entries and all the social networks which lie behind them augur well for an engaged DCU community.”

Click the link to read the news story on St Patrick's College News website:


4th June, 2014