Skip to main content

Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

Menu Search

Trinity College Dublin By using this website you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with the Trinity cookie policy. For more information on cookies see our cookie policy.

Profile Photo

Professor Robert Gilligan

Professor (Social Studies)


Robbie Gilligan is Professor of Social Work and Social Policy at Trinity College Dublin. Registered social worker SW025084. Founding Head of School of Social Work and Social Policy (2005-2011). Associate Director of Children's Research Centre,TCD (2004-2016). Research Fellow (2013-2016) at SFI - Danish National Centre for Social Research. Extraordinary Professor, Optentia Research Programme, North-West University, South Africa (2014-17). Other Career Highlights: * Visiting Professor: Centre for Research and Innovation in Childhood and Youth, Uni. of Sussex, April to June 2018; Dept. of Social Work, Massey Uni., New Zealand, Nov., 2016; Dept. of Social Work, Charles Uni., Prague, Oct. 2011, Dec. 2016, Oct. 2017; Dept. of Social Work, Vytautas Magnus Uni., Kaunas, Lithuania, May 2012 * Visiting Scholar: School of Social Service Administration, Uni. of Chicago, October 2012 * Elected Member of Board (Governing Authority) of TCD (2010 - 14; 2015 - 18) * Elected Fellow of TCD, 2004. * First Holder of Chair of Social Work and Social Policy at TCD, 2001. * Co-founder (w. Dr Sheila Greene, Dept of Psychology) of Children's Research Centre,TCD, 1995. * Founder of multi-disciplinary PG diploma in child protection and welfare, 1990, and MSc in Child Protection and Welfare,1995, TCD. * Director MSc in Child Protection and Welfare,TCD 1995-2016. * PhD Supervision. ten supervised to successful completion: 2019 Eavan Brady,'A Qualitative Life Course Study of the Educational Pathways of Care-experienced Adults' 2018 Louise Yorke '"Maybe I will have a good life in the future?": The lives, experiences and choices of rural girls as they negotiate different pathways to urban secondary schools in Ethiopia' 2018 Derina Johnson 'Living on the borderline: The lived experience of young migrants and refugees growing up on the Thailand-Myanmar border' 2017 Michelle Spirtos 'The lived experience of disability during the transition to adulthood - A study of young people with hemiplegic cerebral palsy' 2016 Dovile Vildaite 'Transnational Experiences of Youth and Family Migration: Intergenerational Perspectives' 2015 Niamh Lally, 'Higher education and transition experiences of students with intellectual disabilities: a promise realized or denied?' 2012 Lindsey Garratt, 'The Body, Masculinities and Racism - Social Relations between migrant and dominant group boys in three inner city primary schools in Dublin' 2012 Jennifer Scholtz, 'Narratives of Mobility, Difference, Belonging and Home: Girls' Experience of Immigration to Ireland' 2009 Margaret Rogers, 'Social and physical ecologies of childhood: A case study of children's perspectives on their neighbourhood' 2007 Muireann Ni Raghallaigh, 'Negotiating changed contexts and challenging circumstances: The experiences of unaccompanied minors living in Ireland' Four PhD students currently under supervision (three co-supervised). * External examiner: Anglia Ruskin,(PhD), Cardiff,(PhD), La Trobe, Victoria (PhD), Queen's, Belfast (PhD; Cert. in Child Protection Studies), RMIT, Melbourne (PhD), Southern Cross, New South Wales (PhD), University College Cork (PhD), Aberdeen (PhD),Adelaide (PhD), Bedfordshire (PhD), Brighton (PhD), Bristol (EdD), Dundee (Cert. in Child Protection Studies), East Anglia, (PhD, MA in International Child Welfare), Glasgow (PhD), Groningen (Cum Laude assessment for PhD), Guelph, Ontario (PhD), Johannesburg (PhD), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (PhD), Melbourne (PhD), Oviedo (PhD), Queensland (PhD), Sheffield (PhD), Stirling (PhD; EdD), Sussex (PhD), Ulster (MA [Adv. Social Work],and PhD), Warwick (PhD), Western Australia (PhD) * Former youth worker, social worker and foster carer. * Research related involvement in Ethiopia, Thailand, Togo. Also work visits to Brazil, China, South Africa, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zambia
  At-Risk Children/Youth   CARERS   Child Welfare   Child welfare, family support,children in care   children in state care   Children/Youth   CHILDREN'S EXPERIENCES   family support   Foster Care   Immigration   Inner-City   International children's research   Irish child welfare policy   MIGRATION   Minorities and Disadvantaged   NEEDS   PERMANENCY   programmes to combat social exclusion among young people   Refugee/Immigrant Services   Social Services Delivery   Social Work   SUPPORT
 'Unfolding Lives - How do young adults across diverse contexts negotiate pathways through education, work and meaningful relationships? '
 Care to Work Pathways Research Project
 Gender Disparities and Disability: Identifying barriers for inclusion specific to girls with disabilities in Togo
 Young Somali Adults in the Irish Education System
 Youth and Poverty - International Development Perspectives

Page 1 of 3
Details Date
Member of the Advisory Group Care Leavers Moving to Independent Life (CALEAMI) longitudinal study in Catalunya run jointly by FEPA (Federation of Entities with Projects and Assisted Homes - Federación de Entidades con Proyectos y Pisos Asistidos) together with the Autonomous University of Barcelona Research Group on Children and Adolescents in Risk (Grup de Recerca en Infància i Adolescència en Risc Social - IARS) May 2018 -
Member of the Project Advisory Group for the ESRC funded study "The Effectiveness of an Enhanced Book-Gifting Intervention for Improving Reading Outcomes for Children in Care" led jointly by Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation at Queen's University Belfast and the REES Centre, University of Oxford 2018 - 2020
Member of the Advisory Committee for the Centre for Comparative Studies of Children in Family, School for Higher Education, Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal 2017
Member of the International Advisory Board of the Institute for Inspiring Children's Futures, Strathclyde University, Glasgow 2017
Member of the Board of Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital, Dublin October 2016
Member of Adult Advisory Group of Economic and Social Research Council (UK) funded study 'Here to Stay? Identity, citizenship and belonging among settled Eastern European migrant children and young people in the UK' (2016 - ) September 2016
Academic Member of the Professional Advisory Network for the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) funded fourth phase (The teens and early adulthood) of the Northern Ireland Care Pathways and Outcomes study ( 2016-19
Member of the Seminar Scientific Committee of the InED - Centre for Research and Innovation in Education, of School of Education of the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal, for its International Seminar in the field of foster care, entitled «Foster care in Europe: outcomes and evidence», September 23rd, 2016 September 2016
Member of the Editorial Board of Irish Journal of Applied Social Studies 2016 -
Member of Editorial Board for 'Social Work Forum' (journal published by Dept. of Social Work, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic) 2015-2018
Member of the Editorial Board of 'Child Abuse and Neglect' (Elsevier) 2013 -
Member of the Editorial Board of 'International Journal of Child and Family Welfare' (Garant, Antwerp) 2013 -
Member of the Editorial Board of 'Children and Society' (Wiley) 2012
Member of the International Advisory Board, Leuven Centre for Irish Studies, K.U. Leuven, Belgium 2011-
President of Childwatch International Research Network, 2010-2013 2010-2013
Vice President of Childwatch International Research Network 2005-10
Member of the Editorial Board of 'Child Indicators Research' (Springer) 2007 -
Member of the Editorial Team of e-'Journal of Student Wellbeing' (University of South Australia) 2007 -
Member of the International Research Network on Transitions to Adulthood for Young People Leaving Public Care 2005 -
Board Member of the European Scientific Association of Residential and Family Care 2004 -
Member of the Editorial Board of 'European Journal of Social Work' (Routledge) 2003 -
Member of the Advisory Board of the Journal 'Adoption and Fostering' (British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering) 1997 -
Member of the Editorial Board of 'Child and Family Social Work' (Wiley) 1996 -
Member of the Advisory Board of the Journal 'Children and Society' (Wiley) 1996 - 2012
Director of Studies, Expert Study Group appointed by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to report on 'Youth at Physical and Moral Risk' [Report Published] 1988-89
Have served as occasional reviewer for the following publishers, journals and series: Allen and Unwin - Australia,'Australian Social Work','British Journal of Social Work', 'Child Abuse and Neglect', 'Childhood', 'Children and Youth Services Review', 'Comparative Migration Studies', 'Economic and Social Review' - Ireland, Economic and Social Research Institute Publication Series - Ireland, 'Emerging Adulthood', 'Families in Society', 'Family Relations', 'Health Education Journal', 'International Journal of Child and Family Welfare', 'International Journal of Social Welfare', 'Irish Educational Studies', 'Irish Journal of Sociology', 'Journal of Development Studies', 'Journal of South Asian Development', 'Journal of Youth Studies', 'Research in Social Work Practice', Macmillan, Open University Press, Oxford University Press - New York, Palgrave, 'Sage Plus'(article editor), 'Social Work and Society', 'Sociological Review', to date
Have served as occasional reviewer / assessor for British Academy, Economic and Social Research Council - UK, European Science Foundation European Collaborative Research Projects, Health Research Council of New Zealand, National Children's Office - Ireland, National Research Foundation of South Africa, Nuffield Foundation, Quality Protects - UK, Research and Development Office - Northern Ireland Health and Social Services Central Services Agency, University of Leuven (K.U. Leuven) Research Council to date
Language Skill Reading Skill Writing Skill Speaking
English Fluent Fluent Fluent
French Medium Medium Medium
German Basic Basic Basic
Irish Medium Medium Medium
Sime, D., Gilligan, R., Scholtz, J., 'Children at transition from primary school reflecting on what schools are for - narratives of connectedness, (mis)recognition and becoming', Childhood, 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  URL
Louise Yorke, Robbie Gilligan & Eyerusalem Alemu , Exploring the dynamics of female rural-urban migration for secondary education in Ethiopia, Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 2021, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Spirtos, M., Gilligan, R., Supporting resilience and personal capacity during the transition to adulthood for young people with physical impairments, COTEC - ENOTHE CONGRESS 2021, Prague, Czech Republic, September 15-18, 2021, Oral Presentation, PUBLISHED
Hill, L., Gilligan,.R. and Connelly, G., 'How did kinship care emerge as a significant form of placement for children in care? A comparative study of the experience in Ireland and Scotland' , Children and Youth Services Review, 117, 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  URL
E. Brady and R. Gilligan, 'The role of agency in shaping the educational journeys of care-experienced adults: Insights from a life course study of education and care'., Children and Society, 24, (2), 2020, p121 - 135, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Johnson, D. & Gilligan, R., Youth agency in everyday precarity: the experiences of young migrants and refugees growing up on the Thailand-Myanmar border, Journal of Youth Studies, 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI
Laura Arnau-Sabates Robbie Gilligan, 'Support in the workplace: how relationships with bosses and co-workers may benefit care leavers and young people in care.', Children and Youth Services Review, 111, 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
Swift, A., Garica Iriarte, E. Curry P., McConkey, R., Gilligan, R., Antunes, M., 'How disability and other socio-economic factors matter to children's socio-emotional outcomes: Results from a longitudinal study conducted in Ireland', Child Indicators Research, 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  URL
A.D. van Breda, E.R. Munro, R. Gilligan, R. Anghel, A. Harder, M. Incarnato, V. Mann-Feder, T. Refaeli, R. Stohler, J. Storø, Extended care: Global dialogue on policy, practice and research, Children and Youth Services Review, 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  TARA - Full Text  URL
Michelle Spirtos Robbie Gilligan, 'In your own head everyone is staring': the disability related identity experiences of young people with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, Journal of Youth Studies, 2020, Journal Article, PUBLISHED  DOI

Page 1 of 12
Eavan Brady & Robbie Gilligan , Supporting the educational progress of children and young people in foster care: challenges and opportunities, Foster, (5), 2018, p29 - 41, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Gilligan, R, 'Age limits and eligibility conditions for care, extended care and leaving care support for young people in care and care leavers: The case for cross-national analysis' , Scottish Journal of Residential Child Care, 17, (2), 2018, Journal Article, PUBLISHED
Robbie Gilligan, How the government took 10 years to bring in a new law, 2016, -, Notes: [Public engagement article:], Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED
Robbie Gilligan, Children in care: 'How many Government ministers would throw their children out at 18?', 2016, -, Notes: [Public engagement article:], Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED
Robbie Gilligan and Laura Arnau Sabates, Care to Work Pathways International Research Project, Optentia Research Day, Vaal Triangle Campus, North West University, September 8th 2016, 2016, Notes: [DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.20441.52323 ], Poster, PUBLISHED
Robbie Gilligan, Ireland has more than 6,000 children in care. How are they doing in school?, 2015, -, Notes: [Public engagement article:], Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED
Robbie Gilligan, Direct Provision: Failing the Test of Delivering on Children's Rights, 2014, -, Notes: [Blog], Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED
Robbie Gilligan, "Global Challenges of Youth and Poverty - A role for universities?"  , 2014, Notes: [Video of lecture available via URL], Working Paper, IN_PRESS
Robbie Gilligan, Food for Thought The Contexts of Care, Food For Thought Conference, November 19th, 2013, IRISS.FM, 2013, Oral Presentation, PUBLISHED
Philip Curry and Robbie Gilligan, Submission to Dept of Education and Science Anti Bullying Forum, 2012, -, Miscellaneous, PUBLISHED


Page 1 of 6
Award Date
Extraordinary Professor, Optentia Research Programme, North West University, South Africa 2014 - 2017
Research Fellow SFI - The Danish National Centre for Social Research 2013-2016
Elected Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin 2004
Research interests revolve around children and young people: - Children and young people in challenging circumstances / with challenged status (public care, migration, ethnic diversity, disability, refugees etc) - Sources of resilience and support - Experiences of key transitions and turning points - Children and youth policy issues in international development' Current PhD students and study titles - Eavan Brady, 'A life course study of the educational pathways of adults who spent time in State care as children.' - Melanie Labor, 'Occupying the Void: Young People's Narratives as a Gateway to a New Understanding of Youth Suicides - A Case study in a Disadvantaged Community in Ireland (with co-supervisor Dr Geraldine Foley) - Sinead Whiting 'The Lived Experience of Late Adoption from Foster Care' and - Louise Yorke, 'The Migration of Rural Girls to Urban Areas for Secondary Education: A Case Study in Southern Ethiopia (SNNPR)'.