New €950,000 Research Project in Catholic Education at MIC Hailed Internationally as a “Visionary Initiative”

Noel Dundon

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Noel Dundon

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nd@tipperarystar.ie

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Mary Immaculate College (MIC) is delighted to welcome a new research project in Catholic education

Scholarships & Bursaries on Offer for Catholic Education Researchers

Mary Immaculate College (MIC) has been awarded €950,000 to enable a new generation of Catholic educators at the College to connect with top-level experts in Catholic education in the USA, Australia and the UK.

The funding has been awarded as part of the Global Researchers in Catholic Education (G.R.A.C.E) Project, an international research-based partnership between MIC Limerick, Boston College in the United States, the University of Notre Dame in Australia, and St Mary’s University in London, which is funded by the Presentation Sisters in Ireland, the All Hallows Trust and the Irish Jesuit Province.

The allocation of funding will allow MIC to award six scholarships to researchers in Catholic education, as well as five bursaries to postgraduate students studying on the MA in Christian Leadership in Education at MIC. A full-time three-year postdoctoral researcher position is also being offered as part of this project, which will result in a detailed investigation into the reality of Catholic ethos and identity on the ground in Catholic schools and colleges.

Founded and led by Professor Eamonn Conway, Head of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at MIC, along with Dr Eugene Duffy, lecturer in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, and Dr Daniel O’Connell, lecturer in the Department of Learning, Society, and Religious Education, the G.R.A.C.E Project provides an opportunity for scholars of Catholic education and theology to affirm, study, collaborate, and respond meaningfully to the challenges that Catholic educators face globally.

Welcoming this allocation of funding, Professor Eamonn Conway noted that as a Catholic foundation not only with a long history of close co-operation with religious bodies but also at the forefront of innovation in education, MIC is uniquely well-placed to support this research project.

He said, “We are delighted and grateful that both provinces of the Presentation Sisters in Ireland, the All Hallows Trust and the Irish Jesuit Province, among others, have invested so generously in providing financial support for our students here at MIC. The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental provider of education in the world. Catholic schools serve some 62 million students at pre-school, primary and secondary levels and an additional 6.5 million in higher education. In fact, enrolment in Catholic institutions of higher education worldwide has doubled over the past fifty years. This is important to remember at a time when we might lose confidence in what Catholic education has to offer in Ireland.”

Congratulating MIC on creating an international network of Catholic education researchers, Dr Melodie Wyttenbach, Executive Director of Boston College’s Roche Center for Catholic Education, said, “Community is at the heart of G.R.A.C.E. Project and practitioners of Catholic education from across the globe have come together with a spirit of openness to learn from one another, our realities, and to deepen our faith. This visionary initiative, conceived by talented faculty at Mary Immaculate College, stimulates participants to reflect deeply in order to engage in a fruitful dialogue on critical issues facing Catholic education across the world.”

According to Dr Daniel O’Connell, lecturer in the Department of Learning, Society, and Religious Education at MIC who also chairs the international steering committee of the G.R.A.C.E project, the international links provided by this research project provide students at MIC with new perspectives and insight, as well as innovative approaches and models of good practice that allow for shared research among PhD scholars in different countries, as well as access to supervisors from outside of Ireland.

For Dr Eugene Duffy who will work closely with the postdoctoral researcher on the investigation into Catholic ethos and identity in Catholic schools and colleges, this study is “an opportunity to base policy in regard to the re-positioning of Catholic education in Ireland upon accurate data which has been missing to date”.

There are currently two PhD researchers at MIC under the G.R.A.C.E Project. Alex McKillican who hails from Limerick, is currently researching the relationship between Christian existentialism and contemporary theories in adult education. He said, “I am looking forward to adding a distinctively Christian perspective to my area of research. This continues my faith, educational, vocational, and personal journey for which I am most grateful.”

Claire Considine from Doolin in Co. Clare began her full-time studies as a G.R.A.C.E scholar earlier this month and is a graduate of the Bachelor of Arts programme at MIC and an experienced career guidance teacher in Dublin. Commenting on her scholarship, she said, “I am extremely honoured to be selected for a G.R.A.C.E doctoral scholarship and I count myself very fortunate to be given the opportunity to work alongside such incredible researchers in the field of Catholic education.” Claire will be researching ways in which religion can be a resource of spirituality and well-being for senior cycle students in Catholic post-primary schools.

Further information on how to apply for the Postdoctoral Researcher position is available here. The closing date for applications is 2 March 2021.

Further information on how to apply for the scholarships is available here. The closing date for applications is 1 May 2021.

Further information on how to apply for the MA in Christian Leadership in Education bursaries is available here. The closing date for applications is 1 June 2021.