Associate Professor, School of Law and Government



NIAMH GAYNOR is an Associate Professor in the School of Law and Government in Dublin City University.  She has a BSc in Botany and Mathematics; an MSc in Rural Development; and a PhD in Sociology. Niamh began teaching in DCU in 2009.  Prior to this she worked for fifteen years with a range of governmental and non-governmental organisations in international development in sub-Saharan Africa and in community development in Ireland. Niamh’s teaching and research focuses on the causes of inequality (social, economic and political) and the politics of development. She has published on a wide range of issues including citizen participation in local governance in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda; gender-based violence in Malawi; community radio and community development in Ireland; and the politics of austerity in Ireland. She currently teaches modules on Politics and Development in sub-Saharan Africa and Theories and Practices of Development at both undergraduate and at master’s levels.


I incorporate a number of social justice themes into my teaching and would like to advance my capacity to do so.  In particular, I would welcome the opportunity to think more deeply about, and to explore with others on the DISCs project, different methods and resources I can use in the classroom to facilitate students’ critical engagement with, and commitment to equality and justice.  While I am aware of the growing instrumentalist pressures within higher education, I am strongly of the view that the ‘higher’ element of education has to be about more than the transfer of knowledge, skills and competencies.  For me, higher education is about engaging students in a transformative approach which aims at both deepening their understanding of the forces and processes which shape our world, and supporting them to actively engage, interact with and, where necessary, to transform this world for the better.  I am hoping that my participation in the DISCs project will help me support students in this way.

I am an active field researcher and I try to bring this experience into the classroom.  However, I find this is not always easy as the contexts for my research can sometimes seem quite remote and alien to students, even though the underlying structural processes can often be the same or similar to challenges students may have encountered here.  I am very keen to avoid this ‘othering’ and am hoping that the ideas and experiences of others on the project might help me think more deeply about how to go about this in a way that promotes solidarity and understanding, and helps students see the global nature of many of society’s challenges, both at home and abroad.

  • To engage my students to interrogate, challenge, and to care about the causes of inequality and discrimination
  • To learn about and experiment with new teaching methods which facilitate greater student interaction and participation in the classroom
  • To inspire my students to become active in promoting social justice (within their homes, workplaces, communities and/or more broadly) and to see that change is possible


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


To learn more about Niamh’s pedagogical orientation and approach as well as her experiences of participating in 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