The Planning and Sustainability Research Cluster unites interests that attach to the analysis, improvement and pedagogical transformation of problems arising within the context of an increasingly globalised world. Research is conducted at a host of scales and involves a wide range of actors and social structures and shares a focus on the transformative power of alternative visions. These latter may emerge in the context of resistance movements, urban and regional planning practices or in the formation of sustainable policies and lifestyles; as a result, analyses require a diverse range of methodological approaches. At the same time, thematic and theoretical work in the group remain anchored in a shared belief in the need to critically interrogate policies and representations that contribute to the persistence of non-sustainable social practices.

Cluster Members


Dr Liam Carr
Dr Patrick Collins
Dr Therese Conway
Dr Frances Fahy
Dr Valerie Ledwith
Dr Marie Mahon
Dr Una Murray
Dr Kathy Reilly
Prof. Ulf Strohmayer 


Rebecca Corless
Dr Gary Goggins
Mark Rainey

Postgraduate Students
Aine Bird
John Byrne
Bronagh Dillon
Desiree Farrell
Helen Maguire
Elaine Williams



The 3 year project, ‘Challenging the Climate Crisis: Children’s Agency to TAckle Policy Underpinned by Learning for Transformation’ (CCC-CATAPULT), comprises of research teams from the UK, Ireland, Finland and Italy. The researchers are working with young people, teachers, educational institutions and youth groups on the project, which aims to generate new knowledge of how youth experience and make sense of climate complexity.

Climate change is an existential threat that must be addressed through concerted action involving all of society. Recently, young people have put themselves at the forefront of these efforts through coordinated activities, such as school strikes. These call for greater attention and decisive action from governments and other powerful actors to mitigate climate change and protect people from its harmful effects.  At the same time, there is emerging consensus that lack of effective climate leadership, combined with institutional inertia and confused governance mechanisms, is resulting in widespread climate indifference or extremism. Increasing awareness of the impacts and effects of climate change, as well as the measures that can be taken to mitigate against it, is crucial in building an empowered and resilient climate-literate youth that can develop and support solutions now and in the future.

The research within CCC-CATAPULT will co-create a framework that enables young people to express how growing up in their particular contexts and spaces (including formal education, relationships, communities and extracurricular spaces) plays a role in their worldview formation and openness to new ways of thinking and doing. This framework serves as the basis for co-creating approaches and activities with students, teachers and support networks for climate education that are both responsive and sensitive to young people’s norms, attitudes, values, worldviews, beliefs and processes of forming cultural meanings. The new policy recommendations and guidelines generated in CCC-CATAPULT will assist with furthering climate education and action. The project will develop new knowledge for better understanding young people and climate change and provide practical tools for teaching and learning in participating schools and beyond. Policy recommendations will consider social, political, cultural and economic contexts in each region under study, and local, national and international recommendations will be put forward and disseminated widely among policy-makers and other stakeholders. Best practice guidelines will enable knowledge exchange between participating countries and across a wider European context.

CCC-CATAPULT is funded by the JPI SOLSTICE initiative for three years (2020-2023) with a total project budget of €1.38 million.

Principal Investigator: Bronagh Dillon, Prof Frances Fahy and Dr Kathy Reilly
More info:
Funded by: European JPI Climate SOLSTICE initiative& EPA

Nuns’ Island Digital Urban Lab

Situated at the virtual and physical interface between NUI Galway the city, the Nuns’ Island Digital Urban Lab seeks to offer a creative and collaborative space for a range of pedagogical, artistic and performance-based activities as well as community-based initiatives. The Digital Urban Lab will prototype emerging place-making actions and collaborations that will not only inform NUI Galway’s long-term engagement with the Nuns’ Island area of the city but also generate ideas about Galway’s continuing growth in a post-COVID era. The project is a celebration of place and people, bringing together multiple stakeholders in a collective exploration of the city’s future. 

The project also includes 'Imagining Nuns' Island' - a participatory audio journey through Nuns' Island that serves as a living archive of a place in transition.

Principal Investigator: Dr Patrick Collins
Research team: Dr Patrick Collins, Dr Mark Rainey and Prof Ulf Strohmayer
Funded By:  NUI Galway Strategic Fund

IOM Review

In May 2021 Dr. Una Murray completed an evaluation for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on their institutional response to address the migration, environment and climate change nexus. The IOM is the leading UN organization in the field of migration. Dr. Murray’s review was on how the IOM has impacted on and contributed to global and regional policy development including the UNFCCC, as well as examining organisational and cultural changes within IOM with regard to addressing climate change and migration. 

Contact Name: Dr Una Murray


The transition towards clean-energy is ongoing, but urgent challenges remain regarding the pace of its development, its direction in terms of social, economic, and, especially, environmental aspects of sustainable development, its interlinkage with other societal developments and its side-effects. This situation of an ‘under way’ transition is no longer an exclusive matter for social and technological innovation ‘front runners’ (e.g. prosumers, energy cooperatives), but rather a developing new reality that everybody will have to deal with, thereby generating new challenges of behavioural, practice and institutional change.

Energy citizenship is a model of active and involved consumer that is not just a consumer, but also a shaper of energy use. EnergyPROSPECTS aims to explore the various ways in which energy citizenship affects the clean-energy transition process across Europe. In analyzing different forms of energy citizenship (e.g. through energy communities, Virtual Power Plants and ICT enabled smart systems, energy poverty initiatives, sustainable consumption and sufficiency projects, energy justice movements, prosumer initiatives, renewable energy cooperatives, etc.) EnergyPROSPECTS will reach beyond the technological and natural-scientific challenges that are at the heart of the clean-energy transition process. The project will examine the potential contribution of different forms of energy citizenship to furthering the goals of the Energy Union and the Green Deal.

The three-year project will produce an interactive online database of over 500 diverse cases of energy citizenship, highlighting those characteristics that most effectively promote active energy citizenship and have the potential to contribute to the clean-energy transition. An important part of the research involves analysing the external and internal contextual conditions as they support or hinder energy citizenship in its various forms. The project will match suitable models and forms of organisation with different countries, regions and contexts. The research team will then conduct a citizen survey to appraise the validity of various scenarios and discuss and refine results in citizen workshops and policy forums. Overall the research will produce practical policy outputs which will be revised with policy actors in knowledge exchange workshops.

Principal Investigator: Prof Frances Fahy,
Contact Name:  Rebecca Corless
More info:
Funded by: Horizon 2020


Prof Frances Fahy (Geography in NUI Galway) is the lead Social Scientist on the new CAMPAIGNers (Citizens Acting on Mitigation Pathways through Active Implementation of a Goal-setting Network) project which is a three year European study which aims to develop a ground breaking new approach that enables citizens to gain real-life experiences with low-carbon behaviours in various domains (e.g. transportation, energy, IT, banking, insurance, food, clothing, etc.). The CAMPAIGNers’ innovative approach will implement a ‘goal-setting network’, where over 100,000 citizens receive and create challenges to try out tailored adaptations to their daily routines. Their responses to these challenges, associated treatments, and short questionnaires will deliver unprecedented data of behavioural processes, (local) barriers to change, and motivators, allowing for empirically-based scientific support of cities in crafting policies to encourage low-carbon lifestyles. Together with local, national and EU policy makers insights are analysed regarding the ‘right-level-to-act’ and policy-ready recommendations are jointly derived.

Principal Investigator: Prof Frances Fahy
Funded by: Horizon 2020

Moycullen 2030: A Village Plan

The Moycullen Village Plan set out to approach spatial planning from the bottom up. This was achieved through the use of various methods from the traditional (focus groups and surveys) to the more advanced (online engagement and the development of the Village Plan App). The goal was to activate the residents of a village and enable their authorship of their place.

Principal Investigator: Dr Patrick Collins
Funded by: Irish Research Council

ENERGISE – European Network for Research, Good Practice and Innovation for Sustainable Energy

ENERGISE comprehensively covers the full spectrum of energy consumption in the European Union, investigating the factors driving individual and collective energy choices and practices. It classifies energy initiatives in 30 European countries, to inform the subsequent design, rollout and monitoring across eight countries of two culturally sensitive, yet transferrable Living Labs to reduce household energy consumption.

Principal Investigator(s): Dr Frances Fahy, Dr Gary Goggins, Dr Eimear Heaslip
Contact Name: Dr Frances Fahy
More info:
Funded by: Horizon 2020

MOSES - Maritime, Ocean Sector and Ecosystem Sustainability: fostering blue growth in Atlantic marine industries

The project aims to examine the ‘blue’ growth path for the sustainable development of the major sectors operating in the Atlantic space. It will evaluate the evolution of the Atlantic marine sectors; examine the sectoral pressures on the marine environment; assess the vulnerability of coastal areas to the identified pressures; develop sustainable transition plans to blue growth and test policies to meet MSP and MSFD goals.
Principle Investigator(s): Dr Stephen Hynes (SEMRU), Dr Frances Fahy, Dr Liam Carr, Dr Daniel Norton, Ms Rebecca Corless

Geography Contact Name: Dr Frances Fahy
More info:
Funded by: INTERGG Atlantic Area Programme

ATLAS – A Trans-AtLantic Assessment and deep water ecosystem based Spatial management plan for Europe

The project aims to assess the Atlantic’s deep-sea ecosystems and Marine Genetic Resources to create the integrated and adaptive planning products needed for sustainable Blue Growth. ATLAS will gather diverse new information on sensitive Atlantic ecosystems (incl. VMEs and EBSAs) to produce a step-change in our understanding of their connectivity, functioning and responses to future changes in human use and ocean climate. Principle Investigator(s): Prof Anthony Grehan (EOS), Dr Frances Fahy, Dr Stephen Hynes, Prof Ronan Long

Geography Contact Name: Dr Frances Fahy
More info:
Funded by: Horizon 2020