The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

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Exploration and Transformation: The future of higher education on the island of Ireland


Friday, November 25, 2022, 09:30 - 16:30


Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2


Free but booking essential

One-day symposium addressing the future of higher education policy and practice on the island of Ireland.

About this event

This one-day symposium will explore pressing topics addressing the future of higher education policy and practice on the island of Ireland, and provides a platform for international, interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral debate. Download the programme here.

Themes of the symposium

  • Enhancing research structures: funding policy, structural developments, performance and impact of the higher education research system.
  • Universities as leaders in research, regional innovation, creativity and social progress.
  • Global perspectives in higher education: challenges to academic freedom and trust in scientific endeavour.
  • Going green?: Integrating climate-change adaptation into higher education, sustainability and higher education efforts to combat environmental disruption.

About our keynote speaker

Professor Maria Leptin, President of the European Research Council, will give a keynote address at the conference on the impact of reforming research assessment. Professor Leptin took office as president of the ERC on 1 November 2021. Prior to that, Professor Leptin served as Director of EMBO from 2010-2021. She also established a research group in Heidelberg at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory EMBL. The group studies the mechanics of shape determination during development.

In 1994, Maria Leptin became Professor at the Institute of Genetics, University of Cologne, Germany, where she still leads a research group. She spent sabbaticals as a visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France (2001) and as visiting scientist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, UK (2004-2005). Professor Leptin is an elected member of EMBO, the Academia Europaea and the German National Academy of Sciences (Leopoldina), and an Honorary Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She is also Foreign Member of the Royal Society since May 2022.

The conference will hear from a range of inspiring speakers and thought leaders including:

  • Dan Carey MRIA, RIA Secretary for Polite Literature and Antiquities
  • Marie Cowan MRIA, Director, Geological Survey of Northern Ireland
  • Michael D'Arcy, Programme Lead IBEC/CBI Joint Business Council
  • Luke Drury MRIA, Vice-President, ALLEA
  • Professor Gerardine Meaney, University College Dublin
  • Professor Linda Hogan, Trinity College Dublin
  • Dr Karen Kerr, Queen’s University Belfast and Education for Sustainable Development Forum, Northern Ireland
  • Rob Kitchin MRIA, Maynooth University
  • Professor Eeva Leinonen, President, Maynooth University
  • Professor Karl Leydecker, FRSE, Senior Vice-Principal, University of Aberdeen
  • Jennifer McElwain MRIA, Trinity College Dublin
  • Gerry McKenna MRIA, Senior Vice-President, Royal Irish Academy, Chair of the HE Futures Taskforce
  • Professor Michael Murphy, President, European University Association
  • Sinéad O’Gorman, European Director, Scholars at Risk (SAR)
  • Dr Siobhán O’ Sullivan, Executive Director, Royal Irish Academy
  • Dr Diarmuid Torney, Chair Future Earth Ireland and Dublin City University

More information on the Royal Irish Academy Higher Education Futures Taskforce and series of discussion papers on higher education are available here.

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