Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology



A Dubliner and mother of two young adults, MARY MURPHY is a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology in Maynooth University where she co-ordinates the Politics undergraduate degree programme. Mary’s undergraduate modules include: ‘comparative political institutions’, ‘Irish politics’, ‘active citizenship’, ‘public policy’ and research dissertation workshops. At masters level, Mary has taught different modules including ‘Inequality’ and ‘Governance’. Having entered academic life following two decades of campaigning and advocacy work in social justice civil society, Mary considers herself a ‘pracademic’ actively engaged with social and community issues in her research and teaching. A life-long social justice activist and a vocal anti-poverty campaigner, Mary has represented civil society organisations in media and national policy forums. She was recently a member of Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and is presently a member of the Council of State. Mary is interested in maximizing the use of her applied knowledge in the classroom.     


I am interested in learning how to better incorporate more power analysis and gender, interculturalism and community relations in my teaching. I want to develop my capacity to teach more interactively using different approaches including experiential learning. I am particularly interested in bringing engaged research into the classroom, and facilitating the voice of the researcher and researched.

I want to build on my experience of participatory teaching methodologies and human rights and capability informed approaches to social justice.  I have pioneered participatory methods of teaching and research and published a handbook on economic literacy (Murphy and Quinlan 2007) and Participatory action human rights and capability approaches (PACHRA, Theory (Murphy and Hearne 2019,  Practice (Hearne, Murphy and Whelan 2019). I want to apply more of this type of approach in my teaching.

I want to use the opportunity to challenge myself  to keep pace with new concepts and understandings, to contribute what I can to a process of developing collective capacities in these fields and to work in solidarity with others who are try to develop inclusive teaching practices that challenge old and new ‘isms’ in and around the classroom.

  • I want to explore how to make the classroom an inclusive but challenging space and learn how to facilitate conflict as a teacher
  • I want to update myself about new language and practices in relation to gender and intercultural relations and to incorporate such new understandings in my teaching and curricula
  • I want to experiment with new forms of participatory teaching, and more systematically evaluate my teaching practice and push myself to contribute to the scholarship of teaching and learning


To learn more about Mary’s course development and planning for the Spring 2020 semester, please choose from one of the links below.


To learn more about Mary’s pedagogical orientation and approach as well as her experiences of participating on the DISCs Project, please click on one of the links below.

What is the purpose of Higher Education?

What does it mean to incorporate social justice principles into my teaching?

Reflections on the DISCs Project