NUI Galway leads global UNESCO study on Covid-19 impact on young people

Prof Pat Dolan, Cillian Muprhy, Jack Gaffey and Ella Anderson at the launch of Empathy Education Initiative January 2020
Nov 30 2020 Posted: 09:29 GMT

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A global UNESCO study on the impact of Covid-19 on young people’s lives is to be spearheaded by an NUI Galway professor.

More than 100 countries have signed up and 6,000 young people applied to be researchers on the international project being led by Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair and Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway.

The Youth As Researchers global initiative on Covid-19 is the single biggest study on the impact of the pandemic on young people - focusing on wellbeing, education and learning, use of technology, human rights and youth-led action and civic engagement.

Actor Cillian Murphy, patron of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, is supporting the project and will take part in the online launch on Friday December 4th.

Professor Pat Dolan said the study is by young people, about young people and for young people in order to help devise responses and solutions to the wider impact of the pandemic.

“Our objective is for young people to work with other young people to find out how the pandemic has affected them personally, in their families and communities and lives,” Professor Dolan said.

“We want to explore how they have coped - what they see as the key challenges to their education and social relationships.

“We know some of the problems. We know people are affected differently, across classes and cultures. We need young people to help us understand that and help us with the solutions. By using the Youth As Researchers initiative we can do that and produce results that are usable, rather than research that no one reads, most of all young people.”

The UNESCO study is being conducted by researchers aged 18 to 35. A broad representative of youth will take part in questionnaires, surveys, workshops and focus groups and other methods.

Videos, posters, reports, policy briefs and other content will be produced to showcase the results and share them in the media and on social media as well as within the UN, across governments and UNESCO partners.

Two NUI Galway undergraduates John Gaffey and Ella Anderson are trained as Youth As Researchers, including on issues such as ethics in research, non-bias questionnaire design, sampling methods. They will work on the European end of the project.

Ms Anderson, European Steering Committee Representative, said: “Young people across the globe conducting research with fellow young people allows their authentic voice to be heard.”

Mr Gaffey, European team co-ordinator, said: “It's up to youth to prove to the world that we can take action to better our communities, proving everyone who doubts us wrong.”

UNESCO appointed Professor Dolan co-principal investigator along with Professor Mark Brennan, fellow UNESCO Chair at Pennsylvania State University. They will lead a consortium of youth-led researchers through training, mentoring and coordination.

Dr Danielle Kennan, also at NUI Galway’s UNESCO Centre, is co-leader on the global training of selected youth from all over the world

Professor Dolan added: “Over the course of the pandemic the worst assumptions have been made about young people in our society. On too many occasions, people in authority have been too quick to claim young people are irresponsible and lack consideration for society.

The UNESCO Youth As Researchers programme aims to prove these assumptions wrong.

“This is an opportunity for young people to research topics that interest them when adult researchers seem to care the least.”

The UNESCO Youth As Researchers Initiative will be officially launched on Friday 4th December 2020 at 1 pm GMT. The public Facebook live component will be available on the UNESCO Youth Facebook page:


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