Current Research Projects


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TOY-PLUS, 2016-2018, is an EU funded research project that builds on the TOY Project which ran from 2012-2014 ( The TOY project investigated intergenerational learning (IGL) involving older adults (aged 55 and over) and young children (under 9 years). Anne Fitzpatrick and Carmel Gallagher from Social Sciences were participants in the TOY consortium and are also involved in TOY-PLUS.

The TOY project developed a conceptual framework for IGL through action research involving case studies and pilot actions for IGL practice. Thelack of training opportunities and adequate knowledge about intergenerational learning (IGL) principles and practice among practitionerswas identifiedas a major challenge to the implementation of meaningful and quality intergenerational experiences between young children and older people.

TOY-PLUS will develop, test and disseminate an innovative online curriculum and methodology (MOOC) in IGL work for practitioners in early childhood education and care (ECEC), social care and community work. It will also develop and test an IGL quality self-assessment tool (TOY Quality Stamp) with agreed dimensions of quality for local authorities and educational institutions.

The project is co-ordinated by International Child Development Initiatives (ICDI) in the Netherlands and the partner organisations are: Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), Beth Johnson Foundation (UK) and Linking Generations Northern Ireland (LGNI), Developmental Research Center for Pedagogical Initiatives Step by Step-DRCPI SBS (Slovenia), Azienda Speciale ReteSalute (Italy), Hellenic Open University (Greece) and Municipality of Lleida (Spain).

The training module will be piloted in five countries including Ireland in early 2018. The training programme includes plans for a transnational training event hosted by DIT in May 2018. Following piloting and evaluation the training will be made available as a MOOC, designed to reach large numbers of practitioners internationally from 2018. This will upskill practitioners to develop, manage, deliver and monitor IGL practices Europe- and even world-wide.

The impact of TOY-PLUS will be that ECEC and Social Care practitioners will develop skills and competences to deliver successful IG learning activities involving young children and older adults, paying particular attention to social integration and intercultural dialogue.

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The research forms part of the development of Dr Matt Bowden’s research programme Equality in Security: Security Capital and Poverty in Europe. The research focuses on security producers in private, state and civil sectors and analyses the networked relationships with the security field. The research is partly funded by a DIT Research Action Plan (RAP) Award. The research is currently in fieldwork stage and publications expected in 2018.

Research team:

Principle Investigator: Dr Matt Bowden, Senior Lecturer

Research Assistant: Derek Dodd

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The research is an development from ongoing research and specifically analyses the role of politics as a driving force within the security field. The research is supported by a DIT College of Arts and Tourism Seed Award 2017. The fieldwork stage will take place in the Summer and Autumn of 2017 and publications are envisaged for 2018.

Research team:

Principle Investigator: Dr Matt Bowden, Senior Lecturer

Research Assistant: Derek Dodd

There are clear benefits in preparing young adults who are in prison for their release; personal development, a reduction in criminal behaviour and societal harm.

Young adults aged 18-24 years are a distinct group with specific needs, though they are technically adults, most are only transitioning towards adulthood and full maturity (Lösel, Bottoms and Farrington, 2012). As a group they are significantly overrepresented within the criminal justice system, with many persistent offenders who have spent considerable time in prison. They also have histories of poly drug use, family difficulties and a failure to reintegrate into society. This is also the time when many will begin the process of desisting from crime.

There is, thus, a growing interest in this group of offenders, both nationally and internationally, and a growing awareness that their specific needs must be catered for (Barrow Cadbury Commission, 2005; Lösel, Bottoms and Farrington (eds), 2012).

For example, the Irish Prison Service Psychology Service is now specifically targeting this group of prisoners through risk assessments which will inform sentence management for young people in custody aged 18-24 years (

The proposed research will give a voice to these young adult offenders by conducting in-depth interviews with young adults who have been released from prison within the last six months. The purpose of the interviews is to learn more about their experiences of imprisonment and their support needs (Shapland, Bottoms and Muir, 2012), and so develop more effective interventions that reduce offending and with it, the social and economic impact of crime.

This research is funded by the Irish Research Council.

Theory building for Change in Youth Justice is a project funded by the Irish Research Council under the New Foundations Programme Strand 3: Encouraging knowledge exchange and collaborations between research institutions north and south. The project aims to focus on young people’s rights and experiences in the youth justice system and to examine innovative approaches to researching young people’s and practitioners’ experiences with the system in order to better inform policy and practice. The project team consists of Dr. Mairead Seymour (DIT), Dr. Siobhan McAlister (Queen’s University Belfast) and Dr. Nicola Carr (University of Nottingham).

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This review assesses public policy on play and recreation in Ireland, with attention to the implementation of the objectives of the National Play Policy (2004) and the National Recreation Policy (2007). A key objective is to identify barriers, facilitators and the policy context affecting implementation and impact. Current public provision for play and recreation are examined, taking into consideration the findings of recent research on perceived benefits of the youth café model (Forkan et al. 2015). The review will identify relevant literature on play and recreation in Ireland and current international best practice. The final report will outline key recommendations and a rationale for future development of public play and recreation in Ireland.

Researchers: Dr Jackie Bourke and Dr Ann Marie Halpenny.

Mapping safer Internet policies in EU Member States using the BIK-Map tool developed by the European Commission. The aim of the project to analyse public policies in terms of policy governance and concrete initiatives and actions.

The researchers for the project are Prof Brian O’Neill and Dr Thuy Dinh.

This research identifies the opportunities and the main barriers to the appropriate and effective mobilisation of social and digital media for progressing children’s right to be heard by public policy-makers, United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 12 (2009) on the right of the child to be heard.

The project focuses attention on public bodies in Ireland and specifically how digital technologies and ICTs may be mobilised to advance children’s right to be heard by public policy-makers and public service providers when they are developing, implementing and reviewing legislation, public policies and public services that impact on the individual and collective lives of children and young people under 18 years of age. The research should synthesise good practice models and examples of the appropriate use of social and digital media for making children’s voices heard that can be used as guidance and underpin corresponding recommendations on the steps required to achieve this aim.

The researchers for the project are Prof Brian O’Neill, Dr Kevin Lalor, Dr Sinead Freeman and Dr Thuy Dinh

A desk review of policies and programme effective in protecting children from violence, exploitation and abuse relating to ICTs, and promoting children’s digital citizenship. Collaboration with Data & Society, New York, and the Centre for Justice & Crime Prevention, South Africa.