people at the graduate school of creative arts and media
dr. aislinn o'donnell: education and outreach
Aislinn O'Donnell studied politics and sociology for her undergraduate degree at Trinity College Dublin, spending a year at the Institut des Sciences Politiques in Strasbourg. She then spent a graduate year at the Department of Government at Georgetown University specialising in political theory and philosophy. After an MA in Philosophy at University College Dublin, she completed a PhD at the University of Warwick in 2001, the title of which was "Subjectivity before the Subject".
Aislinn is committed to developing an engaged philosophy that retains its commitment to theoretical rigour. This has a loose affinity with 'applied philosophy' but seeks to think from singular situations and experiences rather than prescribing outcomes. She construes philosophy as a practice, both existential and political. For that reason, following completion of her PhD, she worked with asylum seekers and refugees in England and then spent six months in El Salvador working with grassroots organisations. This engendered a set of reflections around collective memory, violence, solidarity and trauma that she is continuing to develop. She then worked with Philosophy Departments at the University of Dundee and University College Dublin alongside teaching part time with the Departments of Education and Human Development at St Patrick's College, DCU, the Education Department at UCD, and the National College of Art and Design. During this time she also worked in a voluntary capacity at the drop-in centre and needle exchange programme at Merchants Quay, and spent a period of time working in India with two peer-led organisations. In 2007, she decided to return to India for a longer period to work with an Indian peer-led organisation working on issues related to HIV/AIDS and drug abuse, living and working in its men's drug rehabilitation centre in Delhi.
Her current research is born of her reflections on these experiences and her sense that philosophy needs to develop concrete and experiential forms of engagement with the 'other' of whom it often speaks. She writes out of the experience of being a participant worker working with marginalised groups in Delhi, Dublin and El Salvador, and she is developing a book-length project centered on the concept of 'active passivity' and 'passive activity'. This involves revising some of the ways in which we understand our vulnerability by challenging our pre-conceptual commitments to an autonomous self. It is structured as a series of meditations on the following themes: 'beatitude', 'attention', 'shame', 'intuition', 'love', 'dependence', 'compassion', 'genesis', 'violence', 'homelessness', 'surrender', 'attention' and 'memory'. She is also developing an innovative approach to critical pedagogy that brings philosophy and contemporary art and their practitioners into non-traditional learning environments. Aislinn continues to teach at NCAD and St Patrick's College.
Dr. O'Donnell is working with the Graduate School to develop education and outreach initiatives and seed research projects in the 'critical pedagogies and creative practices' thematic area. Specifically she is examining the contribution that an encounter with art and philosophy in non-traditional educational settings may make to the learner's overall experience. It is intended to pilot case-study interventions in this regard in order to inform the construction of a larger research programme for the School in this thematic space. Dr.O'Donnell is collaborating with Martin McCabe and Dr. Mick Wilson as well as the research scholars at GradCAM to develop these research lines.
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