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School of Human Development


Primary Department
School of Human Development
Academic Staff
Phone number:
01 700
St Patrick's Campus
Room Number
SPC M 209

Academic biography

Professor Paul Downes is Professor of Psychology of Education, Director of the Educational Disadvantage Centre, Institute of Education, Dublin City University, Ireland and Affiliate Professor, University of Malta, Centre for Resilience & Socio-Emotional Health. A Trinity College Dublin Scholar of Law awarded through the Foundation Scholarship Exam, he also received his B.A (1st class Hons.) in Psychology and Ph.D at Trinity College Dublin.  He has been involved in various expert advisory roles for the European Commission, including for its School Policy Working Groups and was a member of the Irish Senate and Parliament Expert Advisory Group on early school leaving. A Visiting Research Fellow at University of British Columbia, Vancouver 2017 and University of Cambridge, Lauterpacht Centre 2011, he was one of three experts selected by the EU Commission under the theme Inclusion and Citizenship from an open call across Europe to become members of the PostET2020 Expert Panel to inform future EU strategy in education.   

With over 110 publications of books/research monographs, research articles in international peer reviewed  journals and book chapters in areas of education, psychology, philosophy, law, anthropology and social policy, Professor Downes has given keynote lectures and invited presentations in 30 countries. His contribution to international policy and practice includes invitations from 16 different countries’ official ministries (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Ukraine) to present his research on various aspects of wellbeing, mental health, poverty and social inclusion in education, as well as from the EU Parliament Working Group on Quality of Childhood, EU Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights, European Network of Education Councils (EUNEC), UNICEF, Cedefop, CNESCO (Conseil national d’évaluation du système scolaire) & CIEP Sorbonne Universities Paris, International School of Analytical Psychology, Zurich, Latvian Human Rights Committee and President’s Foundation of Malta. A Foundation P&V award winner for his article on concentric and diametric spatial systems at local community levels, his book Reconstructing Agency in Developmental and Educational Psychology: Inclusive Systems as Concentric Space (Routledge 2020) was nominated for the American Psychological Association’s (APA) William James Book Award. He is an invited member of the Standing Review Board (2015-23), Humanities and Social Sciences Panel of the Research Grants Council, University Grants Committee, Hong Kong, China, and has been an invited EU Commission FP7 Evaluator and Rapporteur to chair evaluation meetings for funding proposals for the EU Commission’s Horizon 2020  programme.  Designer of Familiscope, Ballyfermot child & family support service, he has led the establishment of two national research/policy networks on Quality Development of Out of School Services (QDOSS) and Hunger Prevention in School for hot school meals, and 12 country comparative research on access to education in Europe.&nb

Research interests

Inclusive Systems in Education and Society (Early school leaving; Access to higher education and lifelong learning; Bullying and aggression; Parental involvement and family support; Mental health and wellbeing; Voices of children and young people, especially marginalised groups and ethnic minorities; Evaluation frameworks based on structural indicators; Multidisciplinary teams in schools, cross-sectoral working; Community development and outreach approaches; International right  to health and its interplay with education)

Conceptual Foundations of Inclusive Systems of Relation (Intersections between Phenomenology, Structuralism, Psychoanalytic and Analytic Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Poststructuralism)