Two Irish third-level education climate projects awarded €7.6m in funding

23 Feb 2022

Minister Simon Harris, TD. Image: Jason Clarke Photography

Climate-focused projects led by TU Dublin and MTU have been awarded funding under the Human Capital Initiative.

The Irish Government has approved €7.6m in funding for two climate action projects under the Human Capital Initiative (HCI).

Both of these projects are focused on education in relation to the climate crisis, with one being led by TU Dublin and the other based at Munster Technological University (MTU).

The funding was announced today (23 February) by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD, who said the impacts from the climate emergency and changes in technology are “transforming how we live at an incessant rate”.

“Our education system as the cradle of ideas and innovative thinking is well placed to develop graduates who can respond to this rapid rate of change and anticipate future challenges,” Harris said. “It can equip future generations with the knowledge and skills to navigate the 21st century.

“Today’s announcement will allow institutions to respond to emerging skills needs and will act as catalysts for further innovation and models for replication across the higher education system.”

The first project, led by TU Dublin, is looking at a “radical revision” in architectural education in order to address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in relation to climate action and sustainable housing.

This project will look at developing the knowledge and skills necessary to reduce the carbon impact caused by construction, while looking into inclusive, safe and reliable design. Six national schools of architecture will collaborate in the project.

The second project will see MTU work to establish a Knowledge Centre for Carbon and Climate. The project’s team aims to build a national platform that can help share the necessary knowledge and skills to help take steps toward a decarbonised economy and sustainable living.

The HCI was announced in the 2019 Budget to help the higher education system respond more rapidly to societal changes and challenges. The initiative will see €60m allocated each year between 2020 and 2024 from the National Training Fund.

The first pillar of the initiative focuses on graduate conversion and specialisation courses, the second pillar focuses on additional places on undergraduate provision, and the third focuses on innovation and agility.

These two projects now bring the total number of projects funded under the third HCI pillar to 24. Other projects were awarded funding under this pillar in 2020.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic