Skip to main content

University of Limerick establishes Ireland’s first UNESCO Knowledge for Change hub

Wed, 12 Feb 2020

University of Limerick has established Ireland’s first UNESCO Knowledge for Change hub.

The Knowledge for Change Programme (K4C) is a UNESCO initiative that aims to ensure that engagement between higher education institutions and local communities is of the highest standard and that resulting outcomes are mutually beneficial.

The UL K4C hub is only the second of its kind to be established in Europe.

The initiative recognises the great potential for positive social change that can come about through genuine partnership and collaborative research. K4C is part of UL’s commitment to engagement in the UL@50 Strategic Plan 2019-2024, which outlined an aim to ensure that “engagement with the city and region enriches communities and enhances opportunities for all who live there”.

UL’s involvement in the programme was made possible through funding from the Higher Education Authority and through the support of the Limerick City Community Development Project and Limerick City and County Council, both of whom are long standing University partners.

The establishment of a K4C hub at UL provides an exciting opportunity to develop innovative curriculum and to design training and educational opportunities for the next generation of community-based participatory researchers.

UL Vice President Academic Affairs and Student Engagement Professor Kerstin Mey said: “UL welcomes the launch of the UL UNESCO Knowledge for Change programme. This initiative marks our commitment to undertake meaningful community engagement, community-based education and engaged research.

“We value our community partnerships and hope through K4C to further develop these partnerships,” she added.

Dr Budd Hall, co-chair of the UNESCO Chair in Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education, officially launched the UL K4C Hub this Tuesday at St Munchin’s Community Centre in Kileely, which has collaborated with UL on a number of community initiatives.

Speaking at the launch, UL lecturer Dr Maura Adshead, K4C Hub co-ordinator and course director for the Community Wellness, Empowerment, Leadership and Lifeskills (CWELL) programme, said: “UL becoming a UNESCO K4C hub is a wonderful opportunity for UL to engage in an effective and meaningful way with local communities. It promotes equal participation and has the concept of co-design at its core.”

Carl Corcoran of the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at UL was MC at the launch, which was preceded by an arts-based workshop. Musicians from the IWA also performed.

Dr Hall was presented with an Irish language version of the Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) training manual as one of the principles of the global K4C project is to promote local and indigenous languages in CBPR. He also got a Limerick GAA hat.

K4C seeks to build engagement capacity both within UL and local communities, and in particular, to increase the opportunities to undertake community-based participatory research. Several UL staff and community-based practitioners have been trained by UNESCO to provide K4C mentorship to local communities and to colleagues.

Recognition as a K4C hub allows UL access to an international network of K4C hubs, which increases shared learning, comparative research and potential future collaborations.

In relation to K4C, there is a strong emphasis on developing engagement around sport, languages and culture, STEM and health. The importance of indigenous knowledge and language is strongly promoted globally by UNECSO K4C. Community engagement through Irish will be a key aspect of the UL K4C hub with programme content and resource material available in Irish as well as English.

The University is already actively engaged with the local community, as evidenced by the CWELL programme, which is an example of a community based education programme facilitated by UL.

The programme, which is designed by communities, for communities, looks at the issues of wellness, empowerment, leadership and life skills. Students are drawn from the community and generally are in leadership roles within their communities.

The CWELL programme requires students to identify a need in their community and to design a response to that need. The practical skills gained on the programme enhanced by students own lived experience increases their capacity to be a catalyst for change. The development of CWELL is overseen by UL in partnership with local organisations.

Bunaíonn Ollscoil Luimnigh an chéad Mhol don Eolas ar mhaithe le hAthrú in Éirinn urraithe ag UNESCO

Is tionscnamh UNESCO é an Clár don Eolas ar mhaithe le hAthrú, ar a dtugtar K4C, a bhfuil sé mar aidhm aige a chinntiú go bhfuil an caidreamh idir institiúidí ardoideachais agus pobail áitiúla ar an gcaighdeán is airde agus go bhfuil na torthaí a thagann as sin tairbheach.

Aithníonn sé an poitéinseal mór a bhaineann le hathrú sóisialta dearfach a thiocfaidh chun cinn trí chomhpháirtíocht dháiríre agus taighde comhoibríoch. Tá K4C mar chuid de thiomantas OL i leith na rannpháirtíochta mar atá leagtha amach i “bPlean Straitéiseach OL@50, 2019-2024” a seoladh le déanaí. Is é aidhm OL a chinntiú go “… ndéanann ár gcaidreamh gníomhach leis an gcathair agus leis an réigiún pobail a shaibhriú agus go gcuireann sé le deiseanna do gach duine atá ina gcónaí ann.”

Bhí baint ag OL leis an gclár trí mhaoiniú ón Údarás um Ard-Oideachas agus trí thacaíocht ó Thionscadal Forbartha Pobail Chathair Luimnigh agus ó Chomhairle Cathrach agus Contae Luimnigh, ar comhpháirtithe fadbhunaithe de chuid OL iad araon.

Féachann K4C freisin le hacmhainn rannpháirtíochta a fhorbairt laistigh de OL agus laistigh de phobail áitiúla, agus go háirithe, chun na deiseanna le tabhairt faoi Thaighde Rannpháirtíochta Pobalbhunaithe (CBPR) a mhéadú. Tá UNESCO tar éis oiliúint a chur ar roinnt d’fhoireann OL agus ar chleachtóirí pobalbhunaithe chun meantóireacht K4C a chur ar fáil do phobail áitiúla agus do chomhghleacaithe OL. Trí aitheantas a fháil mar mhol K4C tá teacht ag OL ar líonra idirnáisiúnta de mhoil K4C. Tá foghlaim chomhroinnte, taighde comparáideach agus comhoibriú féideartha amach anseo mar thoradh ar bheith páirteach sa líonra seo.

De ghnáth oibríonn ollscoileanna agus pobail le chéile i dtrí phríomhréimse: oideachas pobalbhunaithe, obair dheonach agus taighde pobalbhunaithe. Tá OL an-ghníomhach i ngach réimse agus tá samplaí le feiceáil i ngach dámh in OL agus i bpobail áitiúla ar fud réigiún an Iarthair Láir. Maidir le K4C, tá béim láidir ar rannpháirtíocht a fhorbairt i leith spóirt, teangacha agus cultúir, STEM agus sláinte. Cuireann K4C UNESCO an tábhacht a bhaineann le heolas agus teanga dhúchasach chun cinn ar fud an domhain. Beidh rannpháirtíocht an phobail trí Ghaeilge ina príomhghné de mhol K4C OL agus beidh ábhar an chláir agus acmhainní ar fáil i nGaeilge agus i mBéarla.

Is sampla é clár CWELL de chlár oideachais pobalbhunaithe atá á stiúradh ag OL. Féachann an clár atá deartha ag pobail, do phobail ar na fadhbanna a bhaineann le folláine phobail, cumasú, ceannaireacht agus scileanna saoil. Tarraingítear mic léinn ón bpobal agus go ginearálta bíonn róil cheannaireachta acu ina bpobail. Éilíonn clár CWELL ar mhic léinn riachtanas a aithint ina bpobal agus teacht aníos le réiteach ar an riachtanas sin. De bharr na scileanna praiticiúla a ghnóthaítear ar an gclár agus a neartaítear trí thaithí na mac léinn féin, cuirtear lena gcumas a bheith in ann athrú a spreagadh.  Déanann OL maoirseacht ar fhorbairt CWELL i gcomhpháirtíocht le cuibhreannais áitiúla.

Sheol an Dr Budd Hall, Ollscoil Victoria, Ceanada Mol K4C Ollscoil Luimnigh go hoifigiúil inniu. Is é an Dr Hall an comhchathaoirleach ar Chathaoir UNESCO le Taighde Pobalbhunaithe agus Freagracht Shóisialta san Ardoideachas. Is é Dr Rajesh Tandon ó Chumann Taighde Rannpháirtíochta na hÁise (PRIA) comhchathaoirleach an Dr Hall. Tá aitheantas idirnáisiúnta tuillte ag an mbeirt as an obair cheannródaíoch a rinne siad ar thaighde gníomhach pobail agus ar chur i bhfeidhm modhanna taighde bunaithe ar na healaíona.

Tugann bunú mhol K4C in OL deis iontach dúinn curaclam nuálach a fhorbairt agus deiseanna oiliúna agus oideachais a dhearadh don chéad ghlúin eile de thaighdeoirí rannpháirtíochta pobalbhunaithe.

Is in Ionad Pobail Naomh Mainchín a bhí an seoladh ar bun; tá an t-ionad mar chomhpháirtí le OL ar roinnt tionscnamh lena n-áirítear CWELL. Ag labhairt di ag an seoladh, dúirt an Dr Maura Adshead, Comhordaitheoir Mhol K4C agus Stiúrthóir Cúrsa CWELL “Is deis iontach é do OL a bheith ina mhol K4C UNESCO chun dul i ngleic ar bhealach éifeachtach agus suntasach le pobail áitiúla, cuireann sé rannpháirtíocht chomhionann chun cinn agus tá coincheap an chomhphleanála ina chroílár.”

Is é mol K4C OL an dara ceann dá leithéid san Eoraip.