Carlow College hosts fortnight of fun for Civic Engagement Festival

The Carlow College Civic Engagement Hub hosted its annual Civic Engagement Festival from the 8th – 19th April comprising a series of public lectures, pop-up talks, workshops, conferences and taster days all to promote the community engagement contributions of students and staff.

The Festival was launched with a special screening of 406 Days: The Debenhams Picket Line hosted by producer and Carlow local, Fergus Dowd.

Over the fortnight, several pop-up talks were presented by staff and students across a range of topics, the annual staff versus student Chess Challenge saw some robust competitions, and the College welcomed back visiting lecturer in Theology, Dr Frank Bosman from Tilburg University to present another popular public lecture titled Disobedience as a Virtue: Fictional Robots and AIs as Anthropological Mirrors.

The Festival also included an exclusive tour of VISUAL’s latest exhibition In The Roundness of Being  for staff and students with Irish artist, Eilis O’Connell.

In collaboration with SETU, the College hosted the Carlow Poetry Writing Day on Saturday, 13th April, and welcomed aspiring writers from all over the South East to join in a day of poetry workshops facilitated by Carlow College’s Dr Derek Coyle and SETU’s Dr Crista de Brún and Dr Helena Walsh, as well as workshops and readings from guest poets, Stephen Sexton and Padraig Regan.

The College also hosted Theology, Technology and Human Flourishing, a Theology conference which welcomed speakers Dr Scott Midson from The University of Manchester, Dr Cathriona Russell from Trinity College Dublin and Dr Frank Bosman from Tilburg University who presented their ideas to a sold out audience.  We had scholars and research students representing every University Theology department in Ireland. 

A highlight of the week was the Live on the Lawn outdoor concert by Portlaoise band, Transmitter who entertained staff, students and the passing public with a lively repertoire of rock and popular favourites.

Other events hosted throughout the fortnight include:

  • College Taster Days for undergraduate courses
  • Civic Engagement Coffee Morning
  • Gardening & Wellness Workshop
  • Public Lecture on ‘Normalizing Mental Health: Trends and Treatments in Higher Education – The US Example’ by visiting professor, Prof. Valerie Kern-Lyons from Sauk Valley Community College.
  • Carlow College Annual Literary Awards & Creative Writing Showcase

Speaking of the festival, Chair of the Civic Engagement Hub, Michael Sherman, said:

I am so proud to be involved with this eclectic festival – it epitomises the life and soul of the college.  We have had so many gifted and talented people in our college over the past two weeks just doing what they do best.   And the way we have engaged and exchanged with others, there’s just something extra about whole thing.  It’s almost a waste of time trying to put it into words really, because you just have to experience it.  We hope that there’s been something for everyone.  Thanks to everyone for their warm support and encouragement.  Here’s to 2025!”

The Civic Engagement Hub aims to:

  • facilitate and support staff and students in their contributions to community engagement in the various different areas of community engagement activities. 
  • promote community engagement as a valued and essential activity of the College community.
  • develop an overall profile of the public and civic engagement activities undertaken by the College community.

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