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Local government and nature-based solutions

Project Supervisors

Elaine Gallagher
Citizen Science

Conor Little
Dept Politics and
Public Administration

Stephen Kinsella
Dept Economics - Expert
consultant to Government

Are you committed to doing research with policy impact and enthusiastic about research on local government and public policies that aim to make the most of public space and improve health outcomes? With this graduate bursary, you can pursue research with policy impact while you receive financial support and training from the University of Limerick’s new Graduate Bursaries 2030 scheme. You will also benefit from being part of a major multi-disciplinary project (Go Green Routes) funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.

Project Details
The project will involve studying the impact of local government autonomy on the development of policy to enhance the physical and mental health of urban residents, including nature-based solutions and the development of urban green spaces such as green corridors, linear parks, pocket parks and shared walkways. The project will be designed in consultation with the supervisors and may include cross-national comparative studies involving Go Green Routes partner cities. Project outputs after 12 months will include a report for communication to stakeholders and a proposal for the further development of the student’s work beyond the first, funded year.

Graduate Bursaries 2030 @ UL 
The student will be supported by the University of Limerick’s new Graduate Bursaries 2030 scheme. Graduate Bursaries 2030 is an interdisciplinary scheme designed to support graduate research career pathways and engaged research. Under the scheme, the student receives financial support in the form of a stipend and fee-waiver, and training in policy impact and research career development through a series of workshops led by researchers across disciplines. The student will be supported in making applications for funding to support the development of their research beyond the first, funded year of the project.

The Candidate

  • Holds a first class honours or 2:1 degree in a social science discipline, environmental science, another field related to this project, or has relevant professional experience;
  • Has a strong interest in public policy, local government, or related topics.
  • Where an applicant's first language is not English or they have not obtained their degree through English, applicants must satisfy the English Language Requirements of the University by completing the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam (with an overall grade level of at least 6.5 and no score below 6 in any individual part).


  • Holds a postgraduate (e.g., Masters) degree and/or has experience of conducting research on public policy, local government, or related topics using qualitative and/or quantitative methods;
  • Is committed to communicating research-based policy recommendations;
  • Intends to develop their research into a PhD project;
  • Intends to apply for research funding for their PhD project, including by applying for an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship.

Supervision and Funding
The student will be enrolled in the Department of Politics and Public Administration’s MA by research programme. They will be supervised by Dr. Conor Little in the Department of Politics and Public Administration, Dr. Elaine Gallagher in the Department of Psychology, and Prof. Stephen Kinsella in the Department of Economics.

The bursary will provide EU fees and a stipend of €16,000, as well as training opportunities in research career development and policy impact.

The project is part of Go Green Routes, which is a €10.5m EU-funded project sowing the seeds for increased nature-connectedness across Europe, Latin America and China. Its multidisciplinary consortium of 40 organisations is pairing participatory approaches and citizen science with Big Data analyses and digital innovation to co-create "Urban Well-being Labs" in six “Cultivating Cities”: Burgas (Bulgaria), Lahti (Finland), Limerick (Ireland), Tallinn (Estonia), Umeå (Sweden) and Versailles (France). These pioneering cities are implementing “nature-based solutions”. By maximizing the available public space, people can move around the city more actively, enjoy their free time and interact with others, whilst there is also room for restoring ecologically valuable spaces.

To find out more about Go Green Routes, see

The Graduate Bursary is also supported by the University of Limerick. 

Find out more
Applications and Expressions of Interest should be sent to Dr. Conor Little, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick: