Aislinn O’Donnell

Aislinn is Professor of Education in the Department of Education and is also a member of the Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy.

She received her PhD from the University of Warwick in 2001, having undertaken her studies under the supervision of Keith Ansell Pearson. Her PhD was examined by Paul Gilroy and Christine Battersby. She was awarded both AHRB funding and University of Warwick Funding. She was awarded a Master in Philosophy from University College Dublin where her thesis was supervised by Richard Kearney. She spent a year in Georgetown University on a non-degree postgraduate scholarship studying Government and Philosophy. She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin where she was awarded a BA Mod in Politics and Sociology and where she was elected Scholar in 1993. She also spent an ERASMUS year in the Institut D'Etudes Politiques in Strasbourg where she studied Politics and Sociology.

Through a series of educational and pedagogical projects, both funded and unfunded, and in her teaching of philosophy of education, Aislinn came to situate her work and research in the field and tradition of education. She has worked with different students from primary education to adult education, and has also worked closely with teachers and other educational practitioners on a number of art and philosophy projects. She is particularly interested in building connections and co-creating research between educational practitioners across the continuum of education, including youth work, and in developing collaborative research in teacher education. During her career, she has developed a series of projects and practices that bring together theory and practice in education in creative ways.

Her research and writing explore aesthetics, sensibility, materiality and affect in pedagogies and education. She is particular interested in ecological approaches to both philosophy and education that open up different contextually sensitive and creative ways of thinking about and understanding the human. As part of this she has developed a number of art and philosophy project in different sites of practice, such as schools and prisons, working with artists, philosophers and curators. These involve developing a range of creative pedagogical practices and her current research involves developing approaches and criteria to evaluate what is of value, rather than what is simply measurable, in these practices. This is also part of participatory action research approach adopted in the EDURAD: Educational Responses to Extremism project.

Mobilising a philosophical lens, Aislinn also engages in researching the ways in which silencing, legacies of violence, willed ignorance, and blind-spots have shaped social, philosophical, political and educational imaginaries. Her research and practice is influenced by writing in race theory, feminist theory and queer theory, in terms of both engaging in critique, and in developing new ways of imagining. She is involved in research and writing that seeks to articulate educational responses to extremism and radicalisation, responses distinct from those with a security lens. In this regard, her work engages with democracy, pluralism, and education, focusing on the cross-section of political theory and educational theory, with a particular focus on belonging and imagining. She has an ongoing interest in prison education, and some of her writing and research has been developed as a response to her experience and engagement with the space of the prison and people who are incarcerated.

Countries around the world have disparate experiences with education in prison. For decades, the United States has been locked in a pattern of exceptionally...