2017 UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre 8th Biennial International Conference June 8th & 9th


Dr. Jean Clinton, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Canada.

Dr. Clinton is a Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster, division of Child Psychiatry who is internationally renowned as an advocate for children’s issues.  She is on staff at McMaster Children’s Hospital with cross appointments in Pediatrics and Family Medicine, and an Associate in the Department of Child Psychiatry, University of Toronto and Sick Children’s Hospital, a senior scientist at the INCH (INfant Child Health) Lab at McMaster University and a Fellow of the Child Trauma Academy. She has been a consultant to children and youth mental health programs, child welfare, and primary care for almost 30 years. Dr. Clinton was recently appointed as an education advisor to the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Education.


Professor Pat Dolan, UNESCO Chair, and Director, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway, Ireland.

Professor Dolan has worked with and for families as a practitioner, service manager, and academic for over 35 years. He has completed an extensive body of research on family issues including longitudinal research on adolescents, their perceived mental health, resilience and social support networks and has published in a wide range of academic publications. His major research interests are Civic Engagement in Children and Youth, Family Support, Reflective Practice and Service Development, Youth Mentoring Models, Empathy Education, Prevention of Youth Radicialisation, Adolescents Resilience and Social Networks.


Dr. Anantha Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP)

Dr. Duraiappah, who received his PhD in Economics from the University of Texas in Austin, USA, played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) while at United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). He also served as founding director of the Inclusive Wealth Report released at the Rio+20 Summit in 2012.

At MGIEP, he is focusing on how “Firing Gandhi Neurons” can be integrated into the curricula of the formal, informal and non-formal education systems. He leads his team in New Delhi in its endeavor to position MGIEP as a pioneering research institute on education for peace and sustainable development.


Ms Ashling Dunphy, Youth Researcher, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway, Ireland.

Ashling is currently in fourth year at Comeragh College, Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. She has been heavily involved in Foróige, participating in The Citizenship and Leadership Programme, and has been elected to the Foróige Reference Panel. Folowing the devastation caused by Storm Frank in January 2016, Ashling mobilised a clean-up initiative to assist those who had lost homes, or whose homes had been damaged. Using social media to recruit other volunteers, she led a group of 11 young people who offered support and comfort to those affected, especially the elderly. They were nicknamed ‘Angels in Wellies’. Ashling was awarded the 2017 National Spirit of Community Award.


Ms. Mary Gordon, Founder & President, Roots of Empathy, Canada.

Mary is recognized internationally as an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator, author, child advocate and parenting expert who has created programs informed by the power of empathy. In 1996 she created the Roots of Empathy program and went on to establish the national and international organisation, Roots of Empathy which now offers programs in primary schools in ten countries.

Ms. Gordon has presented to and advised governments and international bodies such as The World Health Organization and the United Nations. The Nelson Mandela Children's Foundation brought Ms. Gordon to South Africa in the late ‘90’s to share her expertise. Ms. Gordon is often a keynote presenter at international conferences such as the Skoll World Forum and UBS Global Philanthropy Forum, among others. She is frequently interviewed by popular media such as Time Magazine, the Washington Post and CNN and is featured in several films. Ms. Gordon has had several dialogues with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has expressed that programs like Roots of Empathy will build world peace. Ms. Gordon is an Ashoka Fellow and named an Ashoka Globalizer, joining a select group of Ashoka Fellows supported in extending their message and impact to the global level. She is a Member of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest honour for her contributions to education.  Mary Gordon’s book “Roots of Empathy, Changing the World Child by Child” is available in multiple languages.


Fr Peter McVerry SJ was born in Belfast and grew up in Newry, Co. Down. He was educated at the Abbey Christian Brothers’ Grammar School in Newry and later at the Jesuit school at Clongowes Wood College in Co. Kildare. 

In 1962, he entered the Jesuit Order and was ordained in 1975. From 1974 to 1980, Peter worked and lived in Dublin’s north inner city. There he came into contact with young people who were sleeping on the streets and others impacted by severe deprivation.  He opened a hostel for homeless boys, aged 12-16, in 1979 and this subsequently became his life-time work.   He saw through the work of this hostel that when the boys reached 16 and needed to leave, they had few options open to them and most ended up back living on the streets. This realisation led him to set about providing services and accommodation for these older youths.

The work of Peter McVerry Trust is driven by Peter’s vision of Ireland that supports all those living on the margins and upholds their rights to full inclusion in society.  In 2015 the charity worked with over 4,700 individuals across its services. The majority of these are young single men aged 35 or under. As a social activist Peter is a strong advocate for those who have no voice in society.  He has campaigned on a wide variety of issues including homelessness, housing, drugs, juvenile justice, the Gardaí, prisons and education. He is widely recognise as an authoritative and independent voice on these and other issues.

His work has been widely recognised for his work and Peter has been awarded Rehab Person of the Year, Freeman of Dublin, the French Human Rights Award, and the EY Lifetime Achievement Award to name but a few. He has also received a number of honorary doctorates including awards from Dublin City University, Trinity College Dublin, the Royal College of Physicians, and has recently received the UCD Alumni Award. Peter remains one of Ireland’s most prominent social justice campaigners and his work with and on behalf of disadvantaged young people has made him one of the most distinguished voices in Ireland today.


Dr David Howe, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK.

Dr David Howe is Emeritus Professor of Social Work at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. After working as a social worker he began his academic career in 1976. His research and writing interests have included social work theory, child and family social work, and relationship-based practices. He is the author of 20 social work books including most recently Empathy: what it is and why it matters (2012) and The Compleat Social Worker (2014) both published by Palgrave Macmillan.


Professor Kathleen Lynch, Chair of Equality Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland.

Kathleen Lynch is the professor and chair of equality studies at University College Dublin. An academic and an activist, she is guided by the belief that the purpose of scholarship and research is not just to understand the world, but to change it for the good of all humanity.

She has published widely on education and on equality. She is co-author of Equality: From Theory to Action, 2004, and Affective Equality: Love, Care and Injustice, (available in Spanish [2009] and Korean [2016]). Her most recent book, co-authored with Bernie Grummell and Dympna Devine, is New Managerialism in Education: Commercialization, Carelessness and Gender (2012, 2nd ed. 2015).


Ms Ciara Beth Ní Ghríofa,  Youth Researcher, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, School of Political Science and Sociology, NUI Galway, Ireland.

Ciara-Beth is a 17 year old youth researcher at the child and family research centre in NUIG. Her research frequently surrounds autism spectrum disorders and empathy education. She works to improve the lives of people who are on the autism spectrum by creating tools for people with ASD to use and by creating content to help the rest of the world understand ASD.

In 2017 she competed at the BT Young Scientist and Technologist Exhibition, where she won the RTE Student award for the Best Project in Social and Behavioural Sciences, The Abbot "Life to the Fullest" award and first place in the senior social and behavioural science category for her project surrounding autism and eye contact. She's committed to helping other young people understand and accept each other regardless of their differences.