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Reflecting on 'Changing Climates' DSAI Summer School 2021

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By Gerard Maguire, Climate & Development Study Group Convener  

What began with a casual phone call on an idle Tuesday afternoon led to one of the best experiences I have had the pleasure of being involved with. A chat with DSAI chair, Dr Nita Mishra, set into motion six months of planning and organising for the 2021 Summer School to be run in association with the Law Department at NUI Maynooth.

As convenor of the Climate and Development Study Group, I was delighted to lead the development of this year's Summer School with an agreed title of ‘Changing Climates’ as the focus of the 2021 Summer School highlighting that we are facing a multitude of changes to various climates, and it encompasses so much more than just the weather.

Our Summer School brought together an incredible host of expert speakers who facilitated sessions on topics including armed conflict, sustainable community development, cultural heritage, pastoralism, Indigenous Peoples, research methods, outer space, and contemporary slavery. The common thread weaved through all these issues is the role played by climate and the perils of the climate crisis’ impact on both humanity and the planet.


Our speakers offered unique insights and expertise and brought us all on an exploration of these nuances. We were privileged to have had our Keynote address from Prof G Honor Fagan of Maynooth University who took all in attendance on a journey through the realities of actively doing, and meaningfully engaging with transdisciplinary research. Through the two-day virtual event we travelled through four different time zones and across three continents as our experts from around the globe facilitated and led thought provoking sessions that truly engaged every single person in attendance.

The success of this event is owed to all of those who supported, delivered, and attended the sessions. I would truly like to acknowledge and express my sincere gratitude to those who supported this years programme:

  • Our incredible speakers and programme contributors, whose time, passion, and expertise truly shaped this event;
  • Those who attended and participated in our sessions and discussions - postgradutes, undergraduates, academics and practioners - whose interest and desire to be part of this on-going dialogue of the ever-changing arena of climate and development studies is what drives the work of our members based organsiation.
  • Jean Molloy, for her support as a teaching assistant for the duration of the event. 
  • My long-time colleague and fellow climate and development group member, Ciara Finnegan of the Department of Law at Maynooth University, whose support, dedication and incredible work ethic is inspiring, and I have no doubt that the summer school would not have had the success it was without her continued support and commitment to the project!

Delivering the Summer School in digital and virtual environments, we have also learned much that will contribute to DSAI wider work going forward to connect members in both on-line and off-line capacities and in the context and frame of reflective practice, we will devlop an article on facilitating a Summer School Through a Virtual Learning Environment (projecting for submission ).

Lastly, and perhaps most excitingly, we are looking forward taking the dialogue forward through a 12-episode short podcast series reflecting on the topics of the Summer School programme sessions, with the first being planned for release end July 2021. 

I am looking forward to continuing the conversations in this space, particularly at this years Annual Conference in November. Of course we welcome new DSAI Members (membership is free) to also connect with us throughout the year via our Climate and Development  and other Study Group events. You can find more information about DSAI on-line events here

Le buíochas,                                                                            ,


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