WS 3.3 Service Learning, Civic & Community Engagement

WS Team: Dr. Phil Mulvaney

The objective of this Workstream is to institutionalise civic engagement in TU Dublin, specifically to advance community engagement as a core academic activity, drawing on our own experience and the insights and learnings from other HEIs, nationally and internationally, as well as Campus EngageThe focus is on the development of a module on Active Citizenship that can be incorporated in the core curriculum or taken as an extra-curricular activity. Acknowledging that as citizens, we have a responsibility to address the broader challenges and problems facing society, this module encourages students to find creative and innovative ways to make a difference.  It is framed against the UN Sustainability Development Goals and the The Council of Europe Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (RFCDC).  The approach – in terms of module delivery – is one of partnership and dialogue with students, and co-creation in terms of thinking about and shaping the future.  Key outputs include:

Paul Campbell (Estates), Orla Fleming (Campus Nurse), Phil Mulvaney (Strategic Projects), First Year Students Dylan Byrne, Evan Collins & Danny Preston, and Michelle Cresswell (Campus Nurse)

Engaged Research

A second key element of this work package was to advance community-engaged research.  Guided by the Campus Engage How to Guide, Engaged Research Planning for Impact: Society and Higher Education Addressing Grand Societal Challenges Together , the research involved strong collaboration with key community stakeholders. Information on the research is available at:

This research provides an important input into:

  1. The South Dublin Local Economic and community Development Plan 2022-2027
  2. The South Dublin County Development Plan 2023-29

Dr. Mulvaney is a member of the Strategy & Policy Sub-committee of the South Dublin County Local Community Development Committee, which is currently defining the community elements of the next Local Economic & Community Plan. Ms Paula Donovan served a five-year term as a County Councillor in South Dublin County Council following her election in 2014. She is a former member of the LCDC  and is an active board member of a number of key community development organisations within South Dublin County (including South Dublin County Partnership Company and South Dublin Volunteer Centre)  and is chair of several multi-agency sub committees.

The research on South Dublin County (finalised but not yet published) aims to support the planning process insofar as:

    • It will provide a knowledge base that is essential for informed, evidence-based planning
    • Provide comprehensive data on how the sector is resourced, how funds are allocated and how the sector is governed and managed.
    • It will support an integrated approach to development
    • The needs of communities will be identified as well as potential solutions
    • The research will yield important insights related to the governance structure in place and provide a foundation and an important benchmark for future research


Civic Engagement in TU Dublin: A Future Strategy

A third and final objective of this work package was to examine the structures, management and impact of civic engagement activities across the three campuses in TU Dublin, with a view to informing the future organisational design and civic engagement strategy of the university.  This objective aligned with the timing of the university’s Institutional Review process, known as CINNTE ,and with the creation of a new Organisational Design for TU Dublin.

Key outputs from this work package are found in the following reports:

TU Dublin Institutional Profile : Creating TU Dublin (p. 4), Our Educational Principles (p.11),  Engagement: Contributing to the social, civic and economic life of Dublin and Ireland (p.40),

 TU Dublin Institutional Self Evaluation Report 2021: Industry, International and Civic Engagement, Chapter 6 (Dr Phil Mulvaney)

 TU Dublin Annual Report 2021Creating Responsible Global Citizens (Dr Phil Mulvaney)

How Best to Structure, Organise and Measure Civic Engagement in TU Dublin A Discussion Document Prepared by Dr. Phil Mulvaney (April 2021)

The Institutional Review Report 2021 TU Dublin ,published by QQI,  commends TU Dublin on its extensive focus on external engagement, and its ambition to be a modern, vibrant university providing differentiated technological education, deeply embedded in the economic, civic, social, creative, and cultural life of the region. The Review Team commended the linkage of its recommendations to the TU Dublin strategy, which provides a roadmap for the university in terms of its enhancement agenda.

We are now engaged in a follow-up SHEFCE (Steering Higher Education for Community Engagement) project, that will provide the team with the opportunity to incorporate its findings and support the numerous exciting community engagement initiatives happening across TU Dublin.