Professor Pat Dolan

UNESCO Chair, and Director
+353 (0)91 49 2930
UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, Institute for Lifecourse and Society (ILAS), NUI Galway

Prof. Dolan is joint founder and Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and an Academic Director of the M.A. in Family Support Studies. He also contributes to the wider undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes of the School of Political Science and Sociology as well as supervising Ph.D. candidates and Masters Dissertations in Family Support, Social Work and Community Development.

Professor Pat Dolan holds the prestigious UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement, the first to be awarded in the Republic of Ireland. The UNESCO Chair delivers a comprehensive programme of work towards the objective of promoting civic engagement and leadership skills among children and youth. The programme is built around core strands of research, teaching, policy and good practice and is underpinned by a range of national and international collaborations.

Prof. Dolan has worked with and for families as a practitioner, service manager, and academic for over 20 years. He has completed an extensive body of research on family issues including longitudinal research on adolescents, their perceived mental health, resilience and social support networks and has published in a wide range of academic publications. His major research interests are Civic Engagement in Children and Youth, Family Support, Reflective Practice and Service Development, Youth Mentoring Models, Adolescents Resilience and Social Networks. Prof. Dolan has also an extensive policy experience and was recently a member of a Government Task Force advising on the necessary transition programme for the new Child and Family Support Agency.


Supervision of Research

Ph.D. students

1. Danielle Kennan: Accessing Young People for Participation in Research: An Inclusive Approach.

2. Aileen Shaw: Investing in Youth Civic Engagement: Benefits to Society and the Funding Patterns of Nonprofits.

4. Tereza Brumovská: International Comparative Research on the Big Brothers Big Sisters Youth Mentoring Programme in Ireland and the Czech Republic.

5. Tanja Kovacic: Narratives on Civic Participation and Resilience: Contextual, Cultural and Generational Understanding of the Phenomena in the Republic of Slovenia.

6. Sue Redmond (completed in December 2012): An Explorative Study on the Connection between Leadership Skills, Resilience and Social Support among Youth.

7. Sheila McArdle (completed in December 2012): Zambian Perspectives: A Participatory Contextualisation of Youth Civic Engagement (YCE) from both Youth and Adult Zambian Perspectives.

8. Lisa O’Reilly (completed in June 2012): The Voice of Children in Social Work Assessments: What they say? Or what they play?

9. Cormac Forkan (completed in July 2010): Building Evidence on How to Support Adolescents through a Comparative Tracking of their Perceived Social Support Outcomes.

10. Concepta Killoran (completed in October 2010) Methodology and Evidence in Evaluation: Lessons from a Randomised Control Trial of a Youth Mentoring Programme in Ireland.

11. Carmel Devaney (completed in July 2011) Family Support as an Approach to Working with Children and Families in Ireland: An Explorative Study of Past and Present Perspectives Among Pioneers and Practitioners.

Prof. Pat Dolan has also supervised over twenty-five Master students in Family Support, Social Work and Community Development postgraduate programmes and in addition students from undergraduate degree programmes since 2003.


Devaney, C. and Dolan, P. (2015) Voice and Meaning: The Wisdom of Family Support Veterans, Child & Family Social Work. Published online. December 2014. doi:10.1111/cfs.12200.

Dolan, P. (2014) ‘Informal Support in Family Life: A Hidden Gem for Young People, Community and Society’, in Family Futures, 20th Anniversary of the International Year of the Family. UK: Tudor Rose Tudor Rose in cooperation with DESA-DSPD, pp. 32-34 (United Nations New York UN. Publ.)

Dolan, P., Smith, M. and Smith, B. (2014) ‘Early Intervention Policy in Ireland’, in Vincent, S. (ed.) Early Intervention: Supporting and Strengthening Families, Protecting Children and Young People Series. Scotland: Dunedin Academic Press Ltd. (IN PRESS).

Dolan, P., Canavan, J., McGarry, O., Forkan, C., Coen, L., Fives, A., Robins, L. and O’Sullivan, P. (2014) The BELONG Programme. Final Evaluation Report. Dungannon, Northern Ireland: South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP).

Brady, B., Dolan, P. and Canavan, J. (2014) ‘What Added Value Does Peer Support Bring? Insights from Principals and Teachers on the Utility and Challenges of a School-Based Mentoring Programme’, Pastoral Care In Education, 32 (4), pp. 241-250.

Shaw, A., Brady, B., McGrath, B., Brennan, M. and Dolan, P. (2014) ‘Understanding Youth Civic Engagement: Debates, Discourses and Lessons from Practice’, Community Development, 45 (4), pp. 300-316.

Dolan, P., Canavan, J., McGarry, O., Forkan, C., Coen, L., Fives, A., Robins, L.,
Fives, A., Canavan, J. and Dolan, P. (2014) Evaluation Study Design - A Pluralist Approach to Evidence. A UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre Working Paper. Galway: National University of Ireland, Galway.

Redmond, S. and Dolan, P. (2014), Towards a Conceptual Model of Youth Leadership Development. Child & Family Social Work. doi: 10.1111/cfs.12146.

McGrath, B., Brady, B., Brennan, M, and Dolan, P. (2014) ‘Understanding Youth Civic Engagement: Debates, Discourses and Lessons From Practice’, Journal of the Community Development Society. (IN PRESS).

Dolan, P. (2012) 'Foreword', in  Williams, A. (ed.) Compendium of Inspiring Practices: Early Intervention and Prevention in Family and Parenting Support. Brussels, Belgium: Eurochild.

Dolan, P. & Brady, B. (2012) 'Child and Youth Mentoring - New Models with New Opportunities' ('Il Mentoring Con Bambini e ragazzi - Nuovi Modelli e Nuove Opportunitá'), in Banal, S. & Tanzi, R. (eds.) Atti del Convegno, La tutela dei Minori. Riva del Garda: Erickson.

McGrath, B., Brennan, M.A., Dolan, P. and Barnett, R. (2012) 'Adolescents and their Networks of Social Support: Real Connections in Real Lives?', Child & Family Social Work, 19(2), pp. 237-248.

Frost, N. and Dolan, P. (2012) 'The Theoretical Foundations of Family Support Work', in Davies, M. (ed.) Social Work with Children and Families, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 40-49.


Dolan, P. and Brady, B. (2012) A Guide to Youth Mentoring; Providing Effective Social Support. London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Dolan, P. (2012) 'Travelling through Social Support and Youth Civic Action on a Journey towards Resilience', in Ungar, M. (ed.) The Social Ecology of Resilience. A Handbook of Theory and Practice. New York, USA: Springer, Part 6, pp. 357-366. 

Dolan, P., Brady, B., O’Regan, C., Russell, D., Canavan, J., Forkan, C. (2011) Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ireland: Evaluation Study: Report One: Randomised Controlled Trial and Implementation Report. Galway: UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway.

Dolan, P., Brady, B., O’Regan, C., Russell, D., Canavan, J., Forkan, C. (2011) Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ireland: Evaluation Study: Report Two: Qualitative Evidence. Galway: UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway

Dolan, P. Gundara, J. and King, L. (2011) 'The Role of Research for the Promotion of Rights and Values in Education: A Commemorative Paper - 60 Years into Human Rights Education', in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (ed.) Contemporary Issues in Human Rights Education, Paris, France: UNESCO, pp. 11-27.

Kennan, D. and Dolan, P. (2010) Inclusive Education: Aiminng for No One Less. SangSaeng. (A Publication by the Asia-Pacific Centre of Education for International Understanding under the Auspices of UNESCO). No. 29, Winter 2010.

Dolan, P. (2010) 'Children’s Rights in Ireland: A Current Perspective on Implementation, from a Past Lens with a View to the Future', in O'Connell. D. (ed.) The Irish Human Rights Law Review, Dublin: Clarus Press, pp. 177-191.

Dolan P. (2010) Youth Civic Engagement and Support: Promoting Wellbeing with the Assistance of a UNESCO Agenda in McAuley, C. and Rose, W. (eds.) Child Well-Being; Understanding Children’s Lives, London and Philadelphia: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp.111-126.

Dolan, P. and Holt, S. (2010) 'Great Expectations: The Tension Between what Service Users Need and what Practitioners Can Deliver', Administration, Vol. 58, No. 2, pp. 99-123.

Featherstone B. and Dolan, P. (2010) Family Support, Highlight no. 255, London: National Children’s Bureau.

Brady, B. and Dolan, P. (2009) 'Youth Mentoring as a Tool for Community and Civic Engagement: Reflections on Findings of an Irish Research Study', Community Development, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 359-366.

Dolan, P. (2008) 'Social Support, Social Justice, and Social Capital: A Tentative Theoretical Triad for Community Development', Community Development, Vol 39, No. 1, pp. 112- 119.

Click here for a full list of publications

Invited Conference Presentations

Dolan, P. & Brennan, M. (2014) Pleanary Paper, Foróige International Conference, What’s Working for Young People 2014, Dublin, 26-27 March 2014.

Dolan , P. (2014) "Making Sense - Learning for Family Support from young people's views and experiences", Scottish Universities Insight Institute (SUII) Seminar Series 2013-2014: Children and young people’s views on and experiences of intersecting identities and inequalities: facilitating participation and extending the dialogue, SUII, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 20th March 2014.

Dolan, P. (2013) Participation in a panel debate “What do we mean by children’s participation? What does it look like in practice? How does it make a difference to children’s lives and outcomes? How does it contribute to building inclusive societies?”, Eurochild Annual Conference 2013, Building an inclusive Europe – the contribution of children’s participation, 13-15 November 2013, Milan, Italy.

Dolan, P. (2013) Plenary Paper - Children in Scotland Annual Conference 2013: Ready for the future?. Organised in partnership with Renfrewshire Council, Glynhill Hotel, Renfrew, Scotland, 5th & 6th November 2013.

Dolan, P. (2012) Building Resilience in Childhood in the Real World of Family LifeSupporting Families: Making a Difference. Celebration of the Sure Start Programme in the Eastern Childcare Partnership area, Europa Hotel, Belfast, 25 May 2012.

Dolan, P. (2012) International Network of Child Policy Research Centres, The Children's Institute, University of Cape Town, South Africa, 11-17 May 2012.

Dolan, P. and Smith, A. (2012) Children's Rights and the Family: A Commentary on the Proposed Consitutional Referendum on Children’s Rights in Ireland, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre Forum, NUI Galway, 10 May 2012.

Dolan, P. (2012) Reflective Practice, Wave Change Weekend 3 - SEI Research Bootcamp, Harbour Hotel, Galway, 29 April 2012.

Dolan, P. (2012) Linking Civic Engagement and Real World Research, Wave Change Weekend 3 - SEI Research Bootcamp, Harbour Hotel, Galway, 28 April 2012.

Dolan, P. (2012) Foróige Leader’s Conference 2012 An Uplifting, Affirming Success! Crown Plaza Hotel, Santry, Dublin, 24 March 2012.

Dolan, P. (2012) Speaking at the launch of Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card 2012, European Parliament House, Dublin 2, 23 January 2012.

Dolan, P. (2011) The Family in Ireland 2011. Challenge or Opportunity?. BPW National Conference, Meyrick Hotel, Galway, 22 September 2011.

Dolan, P. (2011) Improving Children’s Lives: Outcomes, Partnership and Planning. Children's Lives Centre for Effective Education, School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast, 14 September 2011.

Dolan, P. (2011) Keynote address Reflective Practice in Personal RealityCritical Perspectives on Professional Learning. Fifth Annual Conference. The University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, 13 June 2011.

Dolan, P. (2011) Lessons Learnt from Existing Approaches to Promote Dialogue and Understanding and Enhance Youth Involvement. United Nations Expert Group Meeting on Dialogue and Mutual Understanding across Generations, Doha, Qatar, 8-9 March 2011.

Dolan, P. (2011) Family Parnership. The National Federation of Voluntary Bodies
"Family Leadership & Partnership-Supporting and Empowering People"
, Tullamore Court Hotel, 19 January 2011. 

Dolan, P. (2010) IPRT - Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice. Building Better and Safer CommunitiesIrish Penal Reform Trust Conference 2010, Dublin, 23 September 2010.

Dolan, P. (2010) Overview: A Youth-Centred Exploratory Study with Rural and Urban Zambian Youth Regarding their Perceptions of Civic Engagement, Gender and CommunityPathways to Resilience II: The Social Ecology of Resilience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, 7–10 June 2010.