Civic engagement in a divided society: the role of Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland

Anthony Gallagher, Jennifer Harrison

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of a university in a society emerging from decades of political violence and to show ways in which public engagement can help promote democratic practice and contribute to the strengthening of peace. Our understanding of the concept of public engagement follows the UK National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement definition:

'Public engagement describes the myriad of ways in which the activity and benefits of higher education and research can be shared with the public. Engagement is by definition a two-way process, involving interaction and listening, with the goal of generating mutual benefit .'

The case study is provided by the example of Queen's University Belfast. We will begin by examining some of the history and context of the university, then discuss the political and social context of Northern Ireland, before going on to examine some of the publicly engaged work being carried out by Queen's and consider how this might be taken forward.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHigher education and democratic innovation
EditorsBergan Sjur, Tony Gallagher, Ira Harkavy
Place of PublicationStrasbourg
PublisherCouncil of Europe
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-92-871-8221-0
ISBN (Print)978-92-871-8121-3
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2016

Publication series

NameCouncil of Europe Higher Education Series
PublisherCouncil of Europe


  • higher education
  • Northern Ireland
  • civic engagement
  • democracy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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