Transforming Communities through Social Action

This research theme is about promoting a community-based, problem-solving approach.


This research theme is about promoting a community-based, problem-solving approach.

We reach both local and global audiences and inform, share and exchange distinct research leading to sustainable futures and transformational social action. We have a research emphasis which impacts policy and political frames of reference.

We are recognised as leading experts in the field of community development by the all Ireland training agency AONTAS (National Adult Education through Voluntary Unification).

We aim to:

  • Reach both local and global audiences – sharing and exchanging focused research that leads to sustainable futures, transformational social action and informs policy discourses
  • Increase the capacity and quality of research at grassroots level
  • Produce research that supports collaborative community partnerships
  • Help formulate and influence government community development policy that will lead to improved and sustainable communities

Our research falls into the following main themes:

  • Community activism (local and global) framing emancipatory learning in a fresh dynamic narrative
  • Sustainable development (meeting present community needs without compromising future generations)
  • Transformational learning creating critical pedagogy for social change
  • Educational disadvantage in working class communities; adult education; and widening access to third level education
  • Migrants and asylum seekers (in terms of care, advocacy and assimilation)

Our Impact

Our research on widening participation has led to a significant number of student intake at degree level in higher education through our Accreditation of Prior Learning and Unblocking Potential courses that are organised and delivered within local communities.

Our Unblocking Potential training model has been adopted by other academics within Ulster University and is highly regarded as a first step towards encouraging adults from disenfranchised and contested communities to return to study and advance their learning in HE.

Our latest research project ‘Transforming Communities Through Academic Activism: An Emancipatory, Praxis-led Approach” was published in the internationally acclaimed journal and is an important article in our teaching (and researching) of community development.

Our collaborative partnerships include colleagues from across the globe, such as the members of the International Association for Community Development and members of the All Ireland Standards Board, sharing specialist knowledge and skills specifically related to community development.