The Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) fosters community university partnerships that aim to promote the principles and practices of civic engagement and democracy.

CKI Team

Contact Us

Feel free to contact the CKI team with any ideas or queries you may have.

General Email:
Phone: +353 (0) 91 49 3823
Twitter: @CKIatNUIG

The CKI offices are based in the Arts Millennium building on the main campus grounds, just off Newcastle Road and Distillery Road. For maps see the NUI Galway homepage at

The ALIVE volunteering office is located on the ground floor of Áras na Mac Léinn, in the Hub Student Common Room.

Lorraine McIlrath

Lorraine McIlrath coordinates the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI) aand is responsible for developing and supporting civic engagement activities across the university.

Over the last two decades Lorraine has led and developed a number of national and international projects to further the civic and social role of higher education within society. From 2007 to 2015, she founded and was Principal Investigator (PI) of Campus Engage funded origionally by the Higher Education Authority (national Irish network to support civic engagement within higher education). Campus Enage is now a mainstream national programme and is based at the Irish Universities Association (IUA). She currently co-leads a national project to pilot the Carnegie Foundation Framework for Community Engagement in partnership with the University of Massachusetts and Merrimack College Boston supported by the Ireland Funds and the Talloires Network. She has been developing and guiding the opening of a new communtiy cafe concept based at ILAS called Saol Cafe (Irish for Life) giving people marginalised from employment an opportunity to work.

She has keynoted on her work around the world, from the USA to Saudi Arabia to Spain to Australia. She is a founding member partner in a nine university EU Tempus Funded Project to support the introduction of service learning to five universities in Jordan and Lebanon entitled the Tawasol Project. In 2014 she was elected to the Steering Committe of the Talloires Network.She co-direct the Europe Engage Project in partnerhisp with the Autonomous University of Madrid. She has consulted for the British Council in Russia - supporting the development of the College for Multicultural Education in Sochi and worked for the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) as Programme Director in Northern Ireland.

She spent a decade in Northern Ireland Lecturering at the University of Ulster's UNESCO Centre teaching courses on the Northern Ireland conflict and peace process and in an action research project exploring peer mediation as a process for conflict resolution with the EMU Peer Support Project. In addition, she was worked on the development of the Northern Ireland curricula framework for ‘Local and Global Citizenship' in partnership with the Citizenship Foundation, UNESCO Centre and CCEA.

Lorraine has published on the broad theme of civic engagement and higher education in books and journals and is co-editor of a numberof books including Mapping Civic Engagement within Higher Education in Ireland (2009), National Survey of Civic Engagement within Higher Education in Ireland (Campus Engage 2011), Civic Engagement and Higher Education - Comparative Perspectives (2012) and Higher Education and Community Based Research (2014). She is peer reviewer on a number of higher education journals and reviews a number of international university civic engagement awards.

Tel: +353 91 495234
Twitter: lmcilrath

Ann Lyons

Ann Lyons is the Co-ordinator of EPIC - Engaging People in Communities. EPIC works in close liaison with a wide range of individuals and groups, both inside and outside the university, to further civic links and partnerships, with particular emphasis on Community-Engaged Research and knowledge sharing and exchange.

From 2008 until 2010 she was the co-ordinator of Campus Engage, a higher education civic engagement network, funded under the Higher Education Authority's (HEA) Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), to develop and support civic engagement activities in higher education in Ireland. Ann is a member of the board of directors of the visual arts festival, Tulca, the Galway One World Centre's African Film Festival and Domestic Violence Response (DVR). She is also the joint co-ordinator of the recently established, locally-based action research network, ARGO (Action Research Go). She is joint editor of Higher Education and Civic Engagement: Comparative Perspectives, (2012), Palgrave Macmillan; joint author of Survey of Civic Engagement Activities in Higher Education Activities in Higher Education in Ireland, (2011), (Campus Engage) and joint editor of Mapping Civic Engagement within Higher Education in Ireland, (2009), (AISHE & Campus Engage).

Tel: +353 (0)91 492228

Lorraine Tansey

Lorraine Tansey is the Student Volunteer Coordinator of the Community Knowledge Initiative. Lorraine has a Masters in Education from the University of British Columbia, Canada, with a speciality in the Internationalisation of Higher Education. Lorraine earned her BA in Legal Science and Sociological & Political Studies, and LLB from NUI Galway. As the coordinator of NUI Galway's student volunteering programme, ALIVE, Lorraine has developed a number of resources to support student volunteers.

Lorraine's current areas of interest include co-curricular and extracurricular learning, student engagement, critical global citizenship development and the role of third level institutions in active citizenship. Lorraine has and continues to sit on several Boards including: the Galway Volunteer Centre, Campus Engage, the Professional Association of Volunteer Managers Ireland, Volunteering Ireland, Confederation of Student Services Ireland, the Global Citizens Award and as Convener.

Tel: +353 91 495346

E-mail :
Twitter: lorrainetansey

Aine Gallagher

Áine Gallagher is the community engagement development manager with the CKI. Her professional background is in occupational therapy, with experience in primary care, mental health and Autism Spectrum Disorder health service provision. She has an MA in Health Promotion. In her capacity with the CKI, she works to create opportunities for partnerships that create engaged approaches for teaching, learning and research in NUI Galway, with a specific interest in social equality and social inclusion.

Áine is co-founder and co-ordinator of Bright Club Ireland. This is a stand up comedy night where academics receive training and perform stand up comedy to discuss their work. Bright Club Galway has a huge public following and has become a new space to share knowledge, build capacity and cross boundaries within the world of academia. Additional projects Áine is working on include; co-ordinating the Europe Engage Erasmus Plus service learning study tour, editing volume 3 of the CKI magazine and working with students on the Gaisce programme to achieve recognition for their dedication to civic engagement and personal determination.

Geraldine Marley

Geraldine Marley joined the CKI Team in 2011 for her community placement as part of the MA in Community Development at NUI Galway.

While on her placement, based in the ALIVE office, Geraldine piloted a programme whereby she acted as the liaison for two homework clubs in Galway city and was the link between the schools in questions, ALIVE and the volunteers. Since then she has worked on a number of programmes for the CKI including the Tawasol Student Mobility to NUI Galway; the ALIVE Volunteer Programme and is the CKI Community Liaison. Geraldine is currently the coordinator of the Youth Academy project where high ability primary school students come on campus and take part in a range of different coruses.

Tel: +353 91 494451


CKI and ALIVE Interns

Neil Slevin, ILAS Reporter

As ILAS Reporter Neil has the opportunity to attend a wide range of events, seminars and conferences at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS).

Neil Slevin completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and English teaching at the University of Limerick. He worked as an English teacher for four years in the U.K. before returning to Ireland to pursue a career in writing. Currently, he is studying for an MA in Writing at NUI Galway.

He first encountered the ILAS when walking past it on his first day as an incoming NUI Galway student and was intrigued to find out more about the ILAS and the role it performs as part of the University.

Neil now writes for the ILAS (and The Sin newspaper) to document the centre's work and to promote the centre both locally and further afield through print and online publication.

To read Neil's work, visit the ILAS Website.

Ruth Underwood, ALIVE Intern

As ALIVE intern Ruth is a Leader for the Scoil Bhride Homework Club and the friendly face you meet at the Aras na Mac Leinn office.

Ruth completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in NUI Galway and is now undertaking a Masters in International Human Rights at the Irish Centre for Human Rights.

Past ALIVE Interns

Emer O'Keeffe

Hi, my name is Emer O'Keeffe and I am part of the team of ALIVE Interns for this academic year (2013-2014). I am a fourth year B.A. Connect with Children's Studies student and also study German and Psychological Studies.

I have been involved in volunteering since I was a teenager and continued to get involved after starting university in NUIG. I have worked with children and young people in Galway since I was in first year here as well as getting involved in some community based events, both in Galway and my hometown in Offaly. I have also volunteered as a Student Connect Mentor for incoming first years. I have really enjoyed the experience of volunteering, meeting new people and learning new skills, some I had never even thought of learning (like tying different types of knots with Cub Scouts or making Lava Lamps in jars!). I decide to apply as an ALIVE Intern because I wanted to get more involved in the volunteering community and perhaps share a bit of my experience and enthusiasm with anyone thinking about volunteering in some way. I would encourage everyone to get involved in something, even if it's just a few hours, because it is definitely worth it, not only for your C.V. but also for your self-confidence!

Martina Gannon

I am a final year International student studying English and Psychological Studies and have just returned from a year on exchange in Canada.

I excitedly delved into volunteering with Alive in first year through diverse projects such as Positive Mental Health charity, Access programme as well as a related international organisation whereby I volunteered in South Africa in teaching, construction & conservation-one of the best months of my life! I applied to be an Alive internship because I believe it's one of the most important, powerful and uplifting areas of this university. In Alive students are drawn together motivated by good to reap even more good for themselves and countless others and I am intrigued to now be a part of this and learn how it works and to discover what kind of life-learning opportunities it can lead to. I am particularly interested in the experience of the volunteer, what motivates them and how Alive can foster even more volunteers so that as many students as possible can have life-changing experiences and find themselves through helping themselves and others. I'm confident that this internship will be another life-changing project that I am beyond excited to be involved with and feel very lucky to be a part of this year. Bring on ALIVE 2013 semester one!

Ciara Treacy

Hi, I'm Ciara Treacy and and I am in my 3rd Year at NUIG studying Public and Social Policy.

After my 1st Year at university I was disappointed with my lack of involvement in student activities so immediately sought to remedy that in 2nd Year, beginning with signing up as a Student Connect Mentor for incoming 1st Year students. This gave me a great taste for volunteering and that year I also became involved in Sin Newspaper which helped me to enhance my journalism skills. Over the summer I ran two mini marathons in aid of ACT for Meningitis and the Galway Simon Community respectively. As well as being an intern this year, I am also a Mentor Leader for new participants of the Mentor Programme, Beauty and Fashion Editor for Sin and a member of the Students Union Welfare Crew at NUIG. Of all the knowledge I have gained at university to date volunteering has taught me the most (just don't tell my lecturers!) in terms of people and organisation skills and has given me a greater appreciation for my surroundings. In being an ALIVE intern this year I hope to share my enthusiasm for both volunteering and NUIG with other students and hopefully help to guide students towards the volunteering opportunities they will enjoy the most and will learn the most from.

Megan Reilly

Megan Reilly is a first year student of Commerce with Accounting. She has previously volunteered with the St. Vincent DePaul society in one of their shops. As part of her Bronze and Silver Gaisce awards, she completed stints of volunteer work with a nursing home and an animal shelter respectively.

Recently she achieved the ALIVE certificate for volunteering with a homework club in Doughiska. She also volunteered on campus with Potterfest, within society committees, and by acting as a class rep. About the internship she says: ‘I'm really thrilled about the opportunity, all the new people I'll get to meet and be able to help in regards to getting them started volunteering, or just to find them a new volunteering opportunity. I feel ALIVE is a fantastic organisation to get involved with, because to me volunteering is the best method of character building and expanding your knowledge and skills.'

Zhao Li

My name is Zhao Li, an international student from China. My studies started in Shannon College of Hotel Management, then I was on a transfer program to NUI Galway pursuing the degree of Business Commerce.

I graduated in May 2013. Currently, I am studying the master of International Management in NUIG. My volunteering started when I was studying in Shannon College. I was helping with a music festival. That experience really made me excited about doing volunteering because it enabled me try something completely new from what I was studying and also gave me a chance to meet people. Then, after I began my study in Galway, I joined the ALIVE student volunteering programme and searched the website for organisations I am interested in. By now, I have worked with numerous organisations, such as Music for Galway and Threshold.

It is totally a new challenge for me joining the CKI team as a part of ALIVE intern. I believe this chance will provide me more experience. Meanwhile, I will still continue the volunteering job with the organisations I worked with since last year.

Past CKI Team Members

Bríd Ryan

Bríd Ryan acted as the Student Volunteer Coordinator of the Community Knowledge Initiative for the academic year 2013-2014. Bríd has a BA in History and Psychological Studies and an MA in Health Promotion.

Bríd is a strong advocate for volunteering and its multifaceted benefits, with special interest in the psychosocial aspects of volunteering on the individual and the community. Bríd is currently a member of the EU Grundtvig Roads to Recognition project planning team, its brief being the development of support for volunteering organisations in terms of methods and tools of skills recognition acquired through volunteering activity.

Irín Ní Chualáin

Irín Ní Chualáin is the Administrative Assistant for the Community Knowledge Initiative (CKI).


Tel: +353 91 493823E-mail :

Past CKI Interns

Meara Downey

Meara Downey is postgraduate student undertaking the MA in Ethics Culture and Global Change at NUI Galway 2012 to 2013. She did her undergraduate at Marquette University at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

She has been working with the CKI between 2012 and 2013 as the CKI Community Liaison and Communication Intern. During that time she has worked at Philosophy Tutor with the Youth Academy, undertaking a number of community projects including the One World Centre's "2013 Galway African Film Festival", as well as capturing the narratives of community-university related activities.

Katie Fallon

Katie Fallon is a second year BA student at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), where she is studying Human Rights, Economics, Sociology and Politics.

She will also be completing a diploma in French in 2013. Katie since 2012 has been workng with the CKI on a number of student related projects including the Tawasol Project and has partaken in a number of student mobilities within Ireland and Jordan when she shared her knowledge on community engagement and service learning with other university studnets from Ireland, Jordan, Lebanon, Bulgaria, England and Sweden. She was then chosen from among the NUIG students to represent NUIG on the student delegation to the Tawasol conference in Amman, Jordan at the Hashemite University in November 2012, where she spoke as part of the student presentation on her experiences of the conference in NUIG. Katie was also chosen from the Irish National European Youth Parliament to represent Ireland at the International European Youth Parliament Conference in Lviv, Ukraine in 2010. She has been involved in volunteering for the last number of years including working with adults with severe disabilities and, as part of the Tawasol Student Service Learning Conference, took part in a placement with the Galway Traveller Movement, to which she has since returned. She has been volunteering as a youth group leader for the past two years and was awarded the ALIVE Certificate for Volunteering in 2012. This summer she will be volunteering in Kolkata, India for 10 weeks as a teaching assistant in a primary school in a disadvantaged community.

Gemma Puig

Gemma Puig joined the CKI in 2011 to 2012 while undertaking her Pd.D at the Universitat de Barcelona as part of her doctoral work.

Gemma PuigGemma Puig Latorre holds a degree in Pedagogy from University of Barcelona (UB) at 2007 and MA in Citizenship Education and Values (UB, 2009), where she presented a study case on service-learning as a final project. She received a research scholarship (UB, Sept. 2008 to Sept. 2012), which gave her the opportunity to be a teacher in the Research Methods and Diagnostic of Education, to take part in different Intercultural Education Group Research and to learn and share with Lorraine McIlrath and her team in the Community Knowledge Initiative at National University of Ireland Galway her research visit (Oct. 2011 to Feb.2012).

During Gemma's five month engagement with the CKI at NUI Galway, she undertook primary and secondary research related to the embedding of service learning as a pedagogical approach within higher education. Gemma states that "My experience in Galway has been exceptional. My aim was to gain and develop my knowledge about service learning. I was both impressed and interested to learn that an entity call the CKI exists to promote service learning at NUI Galway." Gemma has returned to Barcelona and now works for GUNi (Global University Network for Innovation - a UNESCO funded network) at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya as a research assistant.

Jane Erickson

Jane Erickson worked with the CKI in 2006 helping to develop a service learning programme with NUI Galway and Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) in the US.

Jane EricksonJane Erickson is currently pursuing a dual Masters in Public Administration and International Relations at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She is also undertaking Certificates of Advanced Study in Conflict Resolution at the Maxwell School, and Public Health at Upstate Medical University. Jane is a Fellow at ReThink Health, where she is working with a policy team to develop sustainable financing mechanisms for integrated health communities in the United States. Prior to beginning graduate school Jane managed the grants and contracts department at the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), a large global public health nonprofit. There she instituted global agreement management processes and policies, developed an innovative grant and contract management database, and oversaw major legal aspects of CHAI's transition to a 501(c)3. Jane also completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Makassar, Indonesia, where she developed English as a second language curricula in consultation with public high schools.

Her undergraduate degree is from HWS. There she double majored in political science and public policy, and focused her studies on civic engagement and electoral systems. Through HWS' Charles H. Salisbury International Internship Stipend, Jane worked with the National University of Ireland Galway's (NUIG) Community Knowledge Initiative, and was a founder and coordinator of the still-active HWS NUIG Service Learning Programme.