Universities play a unique role in society. Not only do they create and disseminate knowledge and attract and develop talent, but many are also driven by important social values. The concept of the ‘Ivory Tower’ university is an anachronism in today’s world. Nowadays, it is typical for universities to engage actively with communities in their region, their nation and, indeed, across the globe.
The knowledge they create and the talent and commitment of their students and staff often lead to significant benefits to citizens in many parts of society. At DCU, we are very explicit about this. Our mission is ‘to transform lives and societies through education, research, innovation and engagement’. Bringing beneficial impact to individuals and communities is central to the DNA of DCU!
I am delighted to introduce the first Annual Impact Review for DCU. This review, which captures snapshots of the University’s impact across many dimensions over the period mid- 2018 to mid-2019, avoids the typical key performance indicators (KPIs) of academic success (publications, citations, research income etc.), and focuses solely on lives and communities impacted beneficially by the activities of DCU students and staff.
In developing a narrative for the University’s impact, it became clear that the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide a very useful lens through which to view the various dimensions of DCU’s activities.
The 17 UN SDGs (listed together with their symbols in the diagram on the facing page), which were developed and agreed to by 194 nation states and which came into force in January 2016, provide an internationally recognised framework for tracking progress towards sustainable development. The particular relevance of the
UN SDGs to DCU was highlighted at a day-long workshop (organised by Dr Rob Gillanders and Dr Róisín Lyons, both of DCU Business School) in May 2019 where presentations from 17 DCU academic staff members described impressive activities
at DCU across all 17 SDGs. This framework was therefore chosen for this review.
I wish to congratulate and thank everyone at DCU whose work is highlighted in this review. My thanks go to DCU alumna Dr Claire O’Connell for her expertise and commitment in authoring the review, to Aisling McKenna, Celine Heffernan and Tom Swift for their work in sourcing and checking information and to the DCU Marketing team, particularly Marie Leahy, Katy Halpin and Deirdre Wynter, for producing this document.