I started in NUI Maynooth in 2009, studying Politics within the Department of Sociology. I had initially picked this subject as I was interested in current affairs and so I felt I would be able to somewhat engage with the course material. Four years later at the end of my degree, I would not hesitate to recommend studying Politics at NUIM to anyone. The atmosphere and feeling of classes within the department is extremely welcoming and inclusive. Classes are also quite small in comparison to many other Arts subjects in the college and this helps with initially adjusting to university life and building confidence to speak and engage with lecturers and classmates. The content of the courses offered is incredibly diverse, including modules concentrating on Irish and European politics, political theory, gender and politics and the politics of ethnic conflicts. There is also a great deal of emphasis placed on developing research skills and abilities throughout the degree structure, which I have found to have been invaluable in applying for postgraduate programmes and making sure my applications stand out. As a student of NUIM there is also the opportunity to avail of the university’s “Study Abroad” scheme, which I was lucky enough to have been able to do. I spent my third year at Boston College in the US, studying subjects such as American foreign policy, the UN and US-Iran relations. I have been accepted onto a Masters course at School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London for September 2013 and am really looking forward to building on the experience I have had of studying Politics at NUIM, especially in relation to the topics such as gender and politics and ethnic conflict.
In 2010 I started studying sociology as part of the Bachelor of Social Science degree course after being accepted in as a mature student. Before I returned to full time education, I took a lot in life for granted, but sociology has opened my eyes in a way that I never expected. I have learned to view society through a new lens. A lens that has enabled me to critically analyse how our social systems work, develop and the major influences and institutions that drive these developments. I now see how such influences impact on people at all stages of life, on an individual and collective level from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures. This is a view that will benefit me and I hope many others for the rest of my personal and professional life. At the time of writing this paragraph, I am coming to end of my degree, and I am happy to say I have now been accepted on to a full time post-graduate Master’s degree course in social work. What I have learned in sociology and social policy during my time at NUI Maynooth has set me up perfectly for my new adventure in full time education. Returning to education at Maynooth has been a life changing experience for me and one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is an experience I think many others would also benefit from. I am grateful not only for what I have learned, achieved, and the benefits I will get from this education, but also for all the friends I have made during my time here.
I started at NUI Maynooth in 2010 as a return to learning student. Following on from this I became a full time mature student studying Sociology alongside Social Policy as part of the B.A. Social Science. To describe my journey at NUI Maynooth in 3 words, I would have to say: ‘healing’ ‘inspirational’ and ‘rewarding’. Upon reflection, I remember when I wrote my very first Sociology essay I felt lost for words. I had many moments of panic because I struggled with the meaning of the word Sociology. However, I took action and I started to engage more with the lecturers especially during consultation hours. I found this one-to-one teaching really grounded me. This degree would not have been achievable without the guidance and support of a number of people within the Sociology Department at NUI Maynooth. Sociology gave me the ability to see life from a different perspective. I see the inequalities present in our everyday lives, predominantly played out within our education system. Keeping this point in mind, I have one very significant story that I would like to share with you. During my second year, I took a module in Sociology on ‘structures of inequality, class, race and gender’. This module inspired me so much insofar as it gave me insight into the broader aspects of inequality within our institutions. This module gave me the courage to challenge the education system in relation to issues around inequality concerning my son. I felt empowered to fight for my son’s educational rights. As a result, my fifteen year old son will have better educational outcomes upon leaving secondary school. He is now rightfully in the class that he deserves to be in. I have grown from a girl who was afraid to write her first Sociology essay, to one who has no fear in challenging the education system for the rights of her child. Inspired by Nelson Mandela who said ‘education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’ I now plan to study for a H.Dip in Adult Education at NUIM.
Aoife Marie Campbell
I studied sociology alongside social policy as part of the B.A. Social Science during my time in NUI Maynooth. From day one I was hooked on the capacity of sociology to provide questions, answers and challenges concerning the relationships, power structures and institutions which interplay with the patterning of human activity. My growing sociological imagination particularly complimented my understanding of social policy, helping me to imagine the sociological origins for legislative policy. Studying sociology at Maynooth, especially the modules on gender studies, inequality and social exclusion have hugely shaped my own ambitions and career choices. The passion for gender equality which sociology enhanced and informed has lead me to have work experiences with The National Women’s Council, Seanad Éireann and Women’s Aid in the year since I graduated. It has also lead me to have a role on the steering group committee of ‘The Y Factor’ a National Women’s Council initiative aimed at building a platform for the voices of young women on issues of gender equality. I am beginning a postgraduate degree in Equality Studies in UCD next year, where my strong foundation in sociology will continue to bolster my dedication to social change'
When I first started to study for the BA in Sociology in 1992, I have to admit I wasn’t all together too sure what I was getting myself into. It might be hard for young people to get their heads around a time without internet but in 1992, we had to rely on the prospectus as practically our sole source of information – no instant Googling of “what is sociology?” for us! I signed up for the course because of the media and society module in particular but after the first few lectures in social psychology with the esteemed Fr Micheál MacGréil in the grand old Aula Maxima building, I began to realise the scope of the discipline. Sociology certainly opened my mind to understanding man’s/woman’s place in society, which at its most basic definition is what journalism is all about -journalists are commentators on society. While I have studied journalism as a separate discipline, and learned the essential tools of the trade through that course of study, sociology enabled me to develop my lateral thinking and made me aware of issues and trends, historical and current, which still act as the solid foundation to my work these days. I totally recommend Sociology at NUI Maynooth – enjoy!
Caroline Nolan, BA Th, M Th, MACP, LSS, PhD
Clinical health care professional, Canada
As a student of Sociology at NUIM 1992-1995 I learned how to gather and interpret data. Experimentation and acquisition of facts were important elements in many courses. Little did I think that this academic training would take me to Canada where I work as a Clinical Chaplain in Critical Care Medicine (ICU, Burns and Emergency), University of Alberta Hospital, Edmonton, Canada. The assessment skills that I learned in Sociology gave me the ability to shift through medical charts and glean relevant information in order to verify my theory or assumptions as to how best to help patients and their family members in times of crisis, difficult diagnosis, loss and life transitions. Working closely with other allied Health Care Professionals such as Social Workers and Psychologists, has been easy given the terminology and course content of many of my Sociology courses. The courses have been of considerable value not only for my clinical work but also for my clinical teaching and research as part of my work with the Faculty of Medicine, University of Alberta. After my studies in Maynooth, I did graduate work in Italy, Israel, Austria and Canada. My personal experiences in these countries were definitely enriched due to Sociology courses such as world cultures, politics and global media. In these courses I was taught how to interpret and critically analyze what information is being put forward and how to come to my own understanding of its purpose and meaning for my life and those around me. Overall, I would say that my initial studies at NUI Maynooth, particularly within the discipline of Sociology, has been very much a key to my successful acculturation into Canada as a Clinical Health Care Professional and Irish-Canadian Citizen.
Dr. Alessandro Zagato
Post Doctoral Researcher
My experience at NUIM Sociology was a very good one from various points of view. From the time I applied for the PhD scholarship to the preparation of my Viva in the Spring of 2012 I was never let down by the department. My PhD was on 'Commuity Development in Dublin: political subjectivity and state cooption'. As a foreign student I always received adequate support, and my relations with colleagues and staff were always positive and productive. The inspiring and professional supervision by Professor Mary Corcoran allowed me to conclude my PhD in less than four years. After the Viva the department offered me an adjunct lecturership teaching a Social Movements module, which helped me to develop academically and professionally. I am currently involved in a postdoctoral research project in Puebla-Mexico.
I started studying sociology at NUIM in September 2010 as part of the ERASMUS exchange programme and really enjoyed it. I then returned to Frankfurt where I am finishing my MA degree in politicial science and philosophy. In November 2011 I started to work as a research associate at the NRW School of Governance (Department of Politics, University of Duisburg/Essen), where I conduct studies in ethics and political management and teach modules for undergraduate students . My studies at Maynooth have very much contributed to my choice of career and I am very happy to have chosen to study sociology there. I acquired many very useful skills in terms of social movements research and found the topics in 'Societies in Transition: Debating the big ideas' particularly interesting and enriching, especially due to the engagement of the staff. Therefore I would highly recommend studying sociology at NUIM.
I graduated in June 2011 with a B.A.(Honours) in Sociology and History. 2011 also marked my eightieth year. I enjoyed the whole experience of the three years in NUIM as a mature student and found all of the staff, including the Professors and Lecturers, particularly in the Sociology Department, very helpful indeed. I would commend the Sociology staff for the help they offered a struggling mature student and their friendly attitude and humanitarian interaction qualities during my three years of University. I am sure that the helpful and friendly atmosphere will continue and that mature students in the future will benefit as I did."
Secondary School Teacher
Sociology has instilled in me an understanding of the importance of equality and social justice which I have tried to promote in my work as a teacher, education worker and distance education lecturer. In my role as a second level geography teacher, my grounding in sociology has helped me to understand and convey information to my students on different cultures and the dynamics of social groups. This has been reinforced by my travel experiences to all seven continents. More specifically, my sociological background has provided me with the tools to teach Social Personal Health Education (SPHE), Civic Social Political Education (CSPE) and as Transition Year co-ordinator, I can see many sociological concepts and frameworks in practice, through charity work in the community with organisations such as St. Vincent de Paul, Barnardos and Friends of the Elderly to name but a few. In addition to this, my degree in sociology allowed me to work with the Open University as an associate lecturer in social science. Perhaps my most fulfilling experience was my development work (education) in Zambia for 18 months where I was immersed in a completely different culture in the remotest part of the country, and exposed to unusual customs and values e.g. witchcraft. It was my academic grounding in sociology that best prepared me for such an unforgettable life experience. Sinéad Callanan Secondary School Teacher St. Declan’s College, Cabra Completed degree in 1991
Dr. Wendy Fuller
Lecturer in the School of Social Sciences’ Justice Studies and Sociology Department, Norwich Univers
My graduate work in the Sociology Department at NUIM gave me more than just an expertise in fields like social psychology, gender, globalization and education. It gave me the tools that I would need to explore the social world in a rigorous and sound way, enabling me to conduct research which stands up to international scrutiny. It also afforded me with the opportunity to learn how to teach at the university level through both Professional Certificates in Teaching and Learning and the chance to instruct classes throughout the four years of my doctoral work. It was in these opportunities, to simultaneously be a scholar and a teacher, where I found my calling. I loved this lifestyle of learning, growing and giving back to others so much that I decided never leave this kind of environment! Completing my PhD in the Sociology Department at NUIM helped me to become a lecturer at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, the oldest private military university in the US. The skills I learned during my time with the Sociology Department have played a huge role not just in getting me this job in the first place, but in helping me to engage positively with the radically different environment of a military institution and also to easily find countless things I want to do research on while I’m here. Sociology is a flexible and dynamic discipline which enables us to become critical, conscientious, and incisive thinkers. I’m glad that my time at NUIM is enabling me now to teach these skills to the people who often become the decision makers of tomorrow. (Dr. Wendy Fuller)
PhD Researcher, European University Institute
I went abroad to get a PhD and the right to call myself a “sociologist” – but it was at NUI Maynooth that my sociological imagination was fired..... Sociology, at its best, is about asking big questions, and challenging 'commonsense' ideas about how the world works – whether that's the commonsense of the pub, of the media, of politicians or of sundry 'experts'. Is there really a 'clash of civilizations'? Do the police always go after the bad guys? Do markets really work the way economists say they do? Why are poor people – and poor countries – poor? Irish sociology has tied our small island into these global debates. Some important questions have been asked, but many remain to be answered. What kind of society do we live in? Is Ireland a 'normal' Western European country, or a scarred, divided, postcolonial periphery? Why, after 1922, did the victors of the 'Irish Revolution' build a clientelist state in the image of the Catholic church and the cattle ranchers, rather than drag their new Ireland into the twentieth century? Why do many self-respecting Irish people think that racism is 'bad' – but that it's socially acceptable to talk about Travellers and inner-city Dubs in terms reminiscent of 1930s Alabama or Apartheid South Africa? How can the Republic have among the highest rates of GDP per capita in Europe, but be effectively bankrupt at the same time? And when the government bankrupted the state by making private bank debts public, why did no-one do anything about it? We are regularly told how well-educated the workforce of 'Ireland Inc.' is. But if we are so smart, why don't we ask these sorts of questions more often? Sociologists have not answered all of them. But important conversations have been started. Maynooth scholars have been central to this, and as a graduate of NUIM, I can testify that some of the best critical thinkers on Irish society can be found on campus. Donagh Davis PhD researcher at the European University Institute, Florence, Italy (Department of Political and Social Sciences) Visiting researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, Fall 2011
Dr. Susan Fletcher-Jones
I went from being a mature student with no Leaving Cert and little confidence in 1994 to graduating from NUI Maynooth in 1997 with two lifelong best friends and a BA degree in Sociology and Classics. Attaining that degree was the proudest and happiest moment of my life. I did my final thesis in Sociology and I can honestly say that I am where I am today, personally and professionally thanks to the encouragement and belief of the staff in the Sociology and Classics Department. They helped me believe that I was as good as anyone else and awakened a love of learning in me which I never knew I had. Directly because of the foundation I received at NUI Maynooth I was accepted and ultimately graduated from medical school in 2008-my second proudest moment to date. I currently work as a doctor in a busy Dublin hospital. Thank you to everyone who helped and encouraged and believed in me even when I thought I couldn't do it... Dr Susan Fletcher- Jones
Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health, University of Colorado
Studying Sociology at NUI Maynooth led me to the career that I love - Epidemiology. I more or less stumbled into Sociology but once there I became very interested by the research methods used to study individuals in their environment. I learned the techniques of survey design and analysis. These skills led to my first job - conducting door-to-door surveys as part of a project studying women's use of folic acid. Again one thing led to another and soon I had a PhD in epidemiology from UCD. In 2003, I went off to work at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA. Now 13 years after graduating from Maynooth, I find my work both challenging and deeply gratifying. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Colorado where I teach and conduct studies on the causes and burden of foodborne diseases. Although my topic has changed, and I continue to learn new methods, the fundamental skills I learned studying Sociology in NUI Maynooth continue to be important.
I thoroughly enjoyed sociology over the 3 years of my B Soc Science undergraduate degree and found it really interesting and engaging. While many of the modules were really insightful, I particularly enjoyed those around childhood, race and ethnicity, development and popular culture. Since completing my degree I have returned to college to do a master is social work. The relationship and interaction of individuals with their social environment is one of the key concepts that informs Social Work, so prior knowledge of sociological theories has been really helpful and are regularly featured in the course. I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending sociology to anyone, it’s brill!
Irish Independent Columnist
When I started my Arts degree in NUI in 1994, I had precious little idea what sociology entailed. All I knew that it was the study of human society; as a member of that very society (most of the time), I figured it would be pretty useful. Little did I know what a gloriously steep learning curve it would be; through the course, I learnt how to pick apart social phenomena and examine them from an entirely new perspective. Marxism, anomie, modernisation, urbanisation, tourism studies; the course ran the proverbial gamut, and I emerged a much different and more informed person for it. As it happened, Sociology was the perfect grounding for a media career; it gave me an enquiring and socially curious mind that remains one of my biggest assets as a journalist. The media studies section of the course was a revelation; I had always been a voracious consumer of the media, but had scant idea of its inner workings. I learnt how influential and dynamic an industry the media is, and it certainly sparked my interest in crossing over from audience member to insider. Social analysis is part of who we are; I guess we are all, to some degree, sociologists. I'm just glad that thanks to this department, I now have the tools to be a better one.
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