Position: Executive committee member
Organisation: UL Engage, University of Limerick
Executive Committee elected at the 24th IFWEA General Conference
Maura Adshead is a Professor of Irish Politics and Public Administration at the University of Limerick (UL) and is currently seconded to the post of Head of Community Engagement in UL. She’s written, co-written and edited 5 books, lots of articles, and carried out research for a number of NGOs, Government Departments and independent think tanks including the Irish Combat Poverty Agency, the National Economic and Social Forum (NESF), Health Research Board (HRB) and Irish Research Council. She is also a strong advocate for community engagement, using her position to hammer home the importance of communities driving their own development agenda – because when it comes to community development, people who live in communities are the best experts to consult and include.
She is a former president of the Political Studies Association of Ireland and a regular political commentator on Irish TV, radio and newspapers in Ireland and internationally. She is a strong advocate for community engagement, using her position to drive an engaged research agenda in Ireland, concerning both engaged research praxis and policies. Engaged Research is referring to that research with and for communities, with the explicit intention of influencing positive change in policy and/or practice. 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, a key policy driver in Irish Higher Education and Research. At local level, in the University of Limerick, Maura is the head of UL Engage, which is part of a wider UNESCO-sponsored global Knowledge for Change (K4C) initiative in Higher Education.
In an environment where higher education and community development are both underfunded, I see possibilities to collaborate and support each other where we share values and ambitions. The world is going crazy, democracy is on the decline and the planet is burning. Now is the time to work together and build alliances to meet these challenges. People who work in universities need to work with their allies in the community to buttress the foundations of democracy, solidarity, worker rights and human rights; that’s not always easy or straightforward, but that’s the kind of work that UL Engage tries to facilitate. Being part of IFWEA allows us to be part of a larger community that shares our values and ambition.