TEAGASC/NUIG Alliance: Agri-Innovation and Learning Unit


Fostered by the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Teagasc and the National University of Ireland, Galway, a research alliance has been established between the School of Political Science and Sociology, NUIG, and the Agri-Innovation and Learning Unit at Teagasc’s Rural Economy and Development Programme (REDP), Athenry, Co. Galway. The alliance contributes to critical mass in areas of mutual research interest. Qualitative methodology is a key area of mutual interest, particularly in the context of narrative studies and applied rural sociology. The alliance is involved in pursuing a variety of rural research questions such as gender, property ownership and economic diversification; relational sustainability in rural society and culture; and the role of lay and indigenous knowledge forms in innovation and learning processes.


Participatory Research Processes to Enhance Agri-Innovation and Learning

Dr. Anne Byrne (School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway) and Dr. Áine Macken-Walsh (Agri-Innovation and Learning Unit, REDP, Teagasc) with colleagues in Teagasc and the Open University, UK are collaborating on a research project that seeks to inform participatory learning processes in the context of Teagasc’s extension activities. The project explores forms of practical and lay indigenous knowledge and how these forms of knowledge are implicated in the socio-cultural fabric of rural localities and associated learning relationships and processes. An introduction to the research is published in Teagasc’s T-Research, Autumn 2010.

Older Women Workers’ Access to Pensions: Vulnerabilities, Perspectives and Strategies

CARDI has granted funding to a consortium involving the Global Women’s Studies Programme (GWSP), NUI Galway; Queen’s University, Belfast; and the Agri-Innovation Unit, REDP, Teagasc to examine the position of older women workers, rural and urban, focusing on their access to economic security, particularly pensions. The study includes collaborations with rural and urban civil society organisations and trade unions representing older women workers. The purpose of the study, led by Dr. Nata Duvvury of the Global Women’s Studies Programme (GWSP), is to inform pension policy reform in the North and Republic of Ireland. Work on the CARDI project is taking place in the context of the Gender, Work and New Economies work package of NUIG/UL Gender Research Consortium.

Biographic Narrative Interpretive Method (BNIM)

Coordinated by Dr. Anne Byrne (School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway) and Dr. Áine Macken-Walsh (Agri-Innovation Unit, Teagasc REDP) an intensive five-day training in the BNIM methodology took place at the Burren College of Art, Ballyvaughan in 2009 following an introductory one-day course at Teagasc’s Mellows Campus Athenry in 2008. Currently, academics and PhD students at the School of Political Science and Sociology and Teagasc’s Agri-Innovation Unit are actively using the BNIM methodology. They are supported by the NUIG Narrative Studies Group.

Inaugural Irish Rural Studies Symposium (IRSS)

The Inaugural Irish Rural Studies Symposium (IRSS) was hosted at Teagasc’s Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway on September 1st, 2009. At the largest gathering to date in Ireland of academics and PhD students focusing specifically on rural research questions, forty papers covering a variety of topics ranging from innovation and diversification of the rural economy to gender and rural culture were presented. Members of staff and students at the Department of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway contributed papers to working groups on Gender; Rural Health and Well-Being; and Society and Culture. The programme is available here.

Gender, Empowerment and Globalisation Research Cluster

A three-year PhD study entitled “Women’s Narratives – from ’Rural Women’ to ’Women in the Countryside’? Investigating Women’s Subjectivities, Identities, and Agency for Sustainable Rural Development” commenced in 2008, funded through Teagasc’s Walsh Fellowship (WF) Scheme. The study forms part of the Gender, Land and Identities sub-theme of the Gender Research Cluster and is co-supervised by Dr. Anne Byrne (School of Political Science and Sociology, Dr. Nata Duvvury (Global Women’s Studies Programme) and Dr. Áine Macken-Walsh (Teagasc).

Additional collaborative activities between Teagasc and the School’s Gender Research Cluster include the contribution of taught modules to the Arts Faculty Structured PhD Programme; the School’s MA in Gender, Globalisation and Rights; and contributions to PhD review panels.

REDP, Teagasc & School of Political Science, NUI Galway Awarded Research Funding for Rural Sociology Project (Join-to-Farm)

Two new projects partnered by NUI Galway and Teagasc have been funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s (DAFM) Research Stimulus Fund (RSF). The funding is part of grant awards in excess of €6 million for research projects being undertaken, on a collaborative basis, by researchers from Institutions across the island of Ireland.

The ’Join-to-Farm’ project (2013-2015)  involving Teagasc, NUI Galway and UCC, uses a mixed-methodological approach to explore the potential transposition of a range of joint farming ventures operating internationally to the Irish context. Qualitative analysis will examine how joint ventures could respond to the needs of women farmers, older farmers, younger farmers and farmers experiencing adversity in terms of access to supports, resources and skills.  Participatory action research methods will be used with farming and policy-making stakeholders to adapt international joint farming models to Irish circumstances and to inform an extension programme that will facilitate farmers’ establishment of new ventures nationally.


Áine Macken-Walsh
Teagasc Partnership Coordinator
Office: Teagasc Rural Economy Research Centre (RERC), Mellow’s Campus, Athenry, Co. Galway
Telephone: 353 (0)91 845241
Email: aine.mackenwalsh@teagasc.ie