Maeve O'Brien


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Dr Maeve O'Brien BEd, MEd (Boston), MA in Ed (UCD), PhD (Equality Studies UCD) is Professor in Sociology and Human Development at the Institute of Education, St Patrick's Campus, DCU. With many years experience as a teacher and Home/School/Liaison Co ordinator in Dublin's Inner City, Maeve moved to full time research and then to teacher education and Human Development. She co ordinated the HD programme on the BA for several years. She teaches at undergraduate level on the BA in Human Development and the BEd programmes. Her post graduate teaching has spanned the MA, BEd and Ed D programmes focusing primarily on inequalities of class and gender in Education and their impact on care and relationships. She is a former Head of the School of Human Development.
Maeve has published on issues pertaining to (in)equalities in education- educational transitions and social class, gender and schooling support work, caring relationality and professional praxis, and the significance and challenges of care and wellbeing in educational contexts today. Her  work on developing a Human Development Conceptual  Framework for the 2nd level wellbeing curriculum (NCCA) with Dr A O Shea is now under some revision and new developments.

Maeve is a former co editor of the international education journal Irish Educational Studies. For the past two years she has lead an ESAI (Educational Studies Association Ireland) SIG across 3rd level institutions with a focus on developing a critical community of praxis in ITE.

Forthcoming:  Maeve has an invited article on wellbeing and contemporary education coming out  in a special issue of the International Journal of Wellbeing.

In 2023 Maeve successfully initiated a Faculty reading group at IoE  with a broad focus on teacher educator identity and wellbeing in the university. The intention is to expand the group in academic year 2023/2024 on the basis of very positive feedback. Faculty emphasized the enjoyable space afforded  to come together and enter into an engaging and non performative dialogue with colleagues from diverse schools and disciplinary fields.

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2019 OBrien, M (2019) 'The care/justice relation in Teachers' and Students'wellbeing' In: International Perspectives on Wellbeing and Diversity. NY : Springer.
2019 Furlong C and O'Brien M (2019) 'An Exploration of Teacher Educator Identities within an Irish Context of Reform' In: International research, policy and practice in teacher education: insider perspectives. London : Springer.
2019 Catherine Maunsell; Ashling Bourke; Bernie Collins; Mella Cusack; Paul King; Frances Murphy; Maeve O’Brien; Andrew O’Shea (2019) 'Preparing to teach wellbeing: Some lessons from Ireland on the professional and personal development of Junior Cycle/middle level education teachers' In: International Handbook of Middle Level Education Theory, Research, and Policy. London : Routledge.
2018 OBrien, M (2018) 'Wellbeing/welfare, schooling and social justice: Caring relationships with students, parents and community' In: Wellbeing, Education and Contemporary Schooling. London : Routledge.
2012 O'Brien, M. (2012) 'Care Relationality and a Humanising Education: The Significance of the Affective Context in Initial Teacher Education' In: Re -Imagining Initial Teacher Education: Perspectives on Transformation. Dublin : Liffey Press.
2011 O'Brien, M. (2011) 'Professional responsibility and an ethic of care: Teachers' care as moral praxis' In: Professional Responsibility: New Horizons of Praxis. London : Routledge.
2011 O'Brien, M. (2011) 'Towards a pedagogy of care and well-being: Restoring the vocation of Becoming Human through care and relationality' In: Pedagogy, Oppression and Transformation in a 'Post-Critical' Climate. London : Continuum.
2009 O’Brien, M. (2009) 'The impact of economic, social, cultural and emotional capital on mothers' love and care work in education' In: Affective Equality: Love, Care and Injustice. London : Palgrave and Macmillan.
2007 O'Brien, M., & Flynn, M. (2007) 'Emotions, inequalities and care in education' In: Beyond educational Disadvantage. Dublin : IPA.

Conference Publication

Year Publication
2018 O'Brien M and O'Shea A (2018) Citizenship Education 100 years on 3rd SPHE Network Conference . In: Nohilly M , Collins, B., Kavanagh, A M., Keating, S., O'Mahony, F., O'Sullivan C eds. A Deeper Well: Reclaiming Wellbeing for Teachers of SPHE MU,
2015 O'Brien, M. (2015) Social Justice and Diversity in Teacher Education . In: Car Mészáros, György, and Franciska Körtvélyesi, eds eds. Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in Careless Times: Caring as Professional Ethical Praxis and Identity Budapest,

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2018 Andrew, Y., Corr, L., Lent, C., O’Brien, M., Osgood, J., & Boyd, M (2018) 'Worthwhile work? Childcare, feminist ethics and cooperative research practices'. Gender and Education, 30 (5):553-568.
2016 Yarrow, A., Corr, L., Lent, C., O'Brien, M. Osgood, J. and Boyd, M. (2016) 'Worthwhile work? Childcare, feminist ethics and cooperative research practices'. Gender and Education, ([10.1080/09540253.20).
2015 OBrien M and Furlong F (2015) 'Continuities and discontinuities in the life histories of teacher educators in changing times'. Irish Educational Studies, 34 (4):379-394.
2008 O'Brien, M. (2008) 'Gendered capital: Emotional capital and mothers' care work in education'. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29 . [Link] [DOI]
2007 O'Brien, M. (2007) 'Mothers' emotional care work in education and its moral imperative'. Gender and Education, 19 . [Link] [DOI]
2005 O'Brien, M. (2005) 'Mothers as educational workers: Mothers’ emotional work at their children’s transfer to second-level schooling'. Irish Educational Studies, 24 (2-3):223-3-243. [DOI]
2005 O'Brien, M. (2005) 'Girls and transition to second-level schooling in Ireland: Moving in and moving out'. Irish Educational Studies, 15 (3):249-9-267. [DOI]


Year Publication
2011 O'Shea. A., & O'Brien, M. (Eds.) (2011) Pedagogy Oppression and Transformation in a Post Critical Climate. London: Continuum.
2004 O'Brien, M. (2004) Making the Move: Students' Teachers' and Parents' Perspectives on. Dublin: Marino Institute of Education.

Published Report

Year Publication
2017 O’Brien, M. and O'Shea A (2017) A Human Development (PSP) Framework for Orienting Education and Schools in the Space of Wellbeing. NCCA, .
2008 O’Brien, M. (2008) Well-Being and Post PrimarySchooling: A Review of the Literature and Research. NCCA, .
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2023) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.

Research Interests

My research interests over the decades have  focused on social inequalities of class and gender and their impact on young people's experiences of education. More recently some of my research has shifted to a broader Human Development interdisciplinary approach and to exploring inequalities with a special interest in affective/emotional and relational issues that can compromise or foster well-being. This movement arose from my teaching in human development, past experiences in community building, and the growing theoretical feminist scholarship on the significance of affect and caring.

Some of my ongoing projects are briefly described below:

Caring, Relationality and Well-being
are key areas of interest in relation to students, teachers and teacher educators wellbeing. There are a number of strands to this research which are ongoing and have been presented/published in various fora-

  • getting clear on a conceptual framework for wellbeing in schools a project undertaken with colleague Dr Andrew O Shea (NCCA 2008, 2017, forthcoming: International Journal of Wellbeing Special issue 2023)
  • Dialogic methods with BEd students to explore professional identity and caring (ECER 2016, ECER 2017, ECER 2018, Barcelona 2022)
  • Teacher educators' caring and professional identities (2015) (2017) (2022)
  • Gender, care and early education work (international project )
Creativity and Student Teachers' Understandings of its Significance
This is an ongoing project to explore old and new paradigms of creativity and how young teachers understand creativity as an aspect of their professional (ECER 2015, 2016). 

Possibilities for Transformative Education and ITE
With members of School of Human Development we convened and facilitated a symposium to celebrate Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Based on the findings with almost 70 participants we will create a new process for ESAI in 2019 called Possibilities for Hope in the PUCA (O'Brien M, O Shea , Gibson, D, O Farrell, C and King P.)

Project with University of Forida Valencia- Wellbeing and Teacher Education, developing competencies. Possible Erasmus  Autumn 2023

Community of Praxis and Teacher Education;

Book project which emerged from a SIG group focussed on social justice, transformative pedagogies and teacher education over past 3 years. This writing project is with a national group of teacher educators across 4 institutional contexts. We pose the problem-How do we work as a community of praxis to model relationality and contemplative process in outcomes driven contemporary contexts?