Professor presented with international award for life-long work for children’s rights

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Professor Anna Odrowaz-Coates, Chairholder of the UNESCO Janusz Korczak Chair and Vice-rector at the Maria Grzegorzewska University, presents the Medal of the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw to University of Galway’s Professor Pat Dolan for his life-long work and achievements in the field of children’s rights. Photo Credit: Aengus McMahon

University of Galway Professor Pat Dolan has been presented with the Medal of the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw for life-long work and achievements in the field of children’s rights.

The event coincided with the 11th biennial UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre conference.

Professor Dolan’s extensive body of work is highly relevant to the lived lives of children, youth and families in particular those experiencing social exclusion, adversity and mental health challenges.

He has pioneered youth research by placing young people at the heart of his work and also by promoting a fresh outlook on the importance of empathy in education.

The UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre was established at University of Galway in 2007 by Prof. Dolan and Prof. John Canavan, and the following year the UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement was awarded.

For more than 10 years, Prof. Dolan has worked with Oscar-winning actor Cillian Murphy, who won this year’s Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of the eponymous father of the atomic bomb in the movie Oppenheimer.

In 2022, Ionbhá: The Empathy Book of Ireland, edited by Cillian Murphy, Prof. Dolan, Gillian Browne and Prof. Mark Brennan, was published, featuring dozens of reflections on empathy from a wide variety of contributors in different walks of life including President Michael D Higgins, jockey Rachael Blackmore and Mary Coughlan, among many other well-known names.

The honour of the Medal of the Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw was bestowed on Professor Dolan as part of celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the UNESCO Janusz Korczak Chair at the university in Poland.

This is named in memory of the Polish-Jewish paediatrician, educator, author and children’s rights advocate who is believed to have perished in a Nazi death camp with almost 200 children from his orphanage.

University of Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said, “Professor Pat Dolan’s pioneering approach to research and working with young people – for their benefit – epitomises the spirit of our outlook at University of Galway and being here for the public good.”

“Pat has made a strong and sustained contribution to children’s rights through his work as UNESCO Chair in Children, Youth and Civic Engagement and his associated work in teaching and research over a long career as well as in his support for other UNESCO Chairs around the world.”

“I am delighted to see that he is being recognised with such a poignant honour from the Maria Grzegorzewska University.”

Professor John Canavan added, “The award of the Maria Grzegorzewska University medal to Professor Dolan brings great honour to University of Galway and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre and reflects his immense contribution to the improving the lives of children in Ireland and globally.”

“The timing of the presentation of the award is also perfect as 200 delegates gathered on campus at the Institute for Lifecourse and Society to reflect how to challenge inequality and discrimination in their day-to-day practice.”