The Illuminate Programme is an ambitious initiative that supports ground-breaking research in the areas of social science, arts and humanities that directly addresses the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Led by the university's Innovation Office, Illuminate projects receive funding, support and mentoring to help them on their journey in changing society for the better.

Illuminate commenced in 2021 and numerous projects have been supported so far

Illuminate Projects

Farmer’s Yards

Dr Shane Conway, Geography, Archaeology and Irish Studies

For many, farming is a way of life, not just an occupation. With over one-third of Irish farmers now aged over 65, issues around succession, social isolation and changes in rural communities are having severe consequences on the emotional wellbeing of farmers and in particular, on the older generation. This project is establishing a dedicated social organisation for the farming community called Farmer’s Yards designed to fit farmers’ aspirations, interests, needs and values. The vision for Farmer's Yards is to build a network of clubs in every county of Ireland to promote social inclusion in farming and directly impact all its members' wellbeing.

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Immersive Empathy

Dr Conn Holohan, English and Creative Arts

There is an ongoing homelessness emergency in Ireland. This ground-breaking project is a response to that crisis. In collaboration with clients from the Galway Simon Community the project has produced a Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) immersive film designed to create empathy through a first-person experience: it captures and conveys the experience of homelessness from the perspective of those who have lived it and allows us to see the world through the eyes of another, closing the gap between "us" and "them".

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Feeling Better

Dr Helena Lydon, Psychology

It can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to communicate when, and to what level, they are feeling pain. Feeling Better is an internet-delivered programme for children and their parents that is designed to overcome this problem. Developed through active patient involvement, Feeling Better uses Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and is on track to be the first online education and therapy resource for children with ASD who experience pain in the world.

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Philosophy in the Wild Garden

Dr Nora Ward, History and Philosophy

Habitat loss and degradation are one of the main reasons for the biodiversity crisis in Ireland and worldwide. This project directly addresses this issue in two ways. First, it has created a physical garden on the campus of the University of Galway that includes suitable habitats and food sources for mammals, birds, and insects; food growing; and wildflower growing. Second, the space contains interactive elements that have been chosen to facilitate community building, reflection and practical support for people, thereby empowering them to address climate change directly through their own actions.

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smiling woman

Teacher-student sexual harassment in Irish secondary schools

Dr Kate Dawson, Psychology

The difference between the number of teachers disciplined for sexual harassment and the number of students alleging they have experienced harassment from a teacher has not been interrogated in detail. This project is providing new insights into teacher-student harassment which will have important long term implications for student safety and wellbeing.

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