Publication Coming Soon


The project explored belonging in three ways:

1. In Word

UCD students and staff were invited to write about a time they felt they belonged on campus

2. In Art

NCAD Bureau+ students creatively interpreted the essence of belonging in a shortlist of 40 pieces

NCAD Bureau+ student Luke Doyle

3. In Thought & Conversation

A day-long exploration of belonging in MoLI, the Museum of Literature of Ireland, brought together leading scholars to set the scene for the launch of The Belonging Project exhibition.

Professor Phoebe Young and Professor Noah Finklestein from University of Colorado at Boulder


Belonging is the need to be part of something, to experience real connectedness for who we are and what we bring to the world. Along with love, belonging is an irreducible need for all people. In its absence there is suffering.

From clubs and societies to year groups and student unions, student life has always been conceptualised as a time of togetherness, affiliation, connection, and kinship. The university in these senses is much more than an abstract ideal. It is a concrete space where the energy of real- life places and rituals is paramount. Indeed, the sense that a person is doing something with others, as part of a broader experience that stretches and unites across time and space, has always been fundamental to the university as institution: from rituals of arrival (orientation and welcoming events) and departure (graduation ceremonies) to university mascots, mottos, and generational folklore.

The COVID-19 pandemic sundered students and staff from this space - from the energy, connections and rituals of university life. This sundering, along with the realities of living with coronavirus and its associated lockdowns, led to many young people feeling lonely "all or most of the time" over the course of the pandemic (ref.).

The aim of the Belonging and the Post Pandemic University project (The Belonging Project for short) is to understand what is means to belong on campus so that we might better support the re-establishment of these essential connections in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


The Belonging Project was led by:

Dr Emma Farrell (UCD)

Dr Shane Bergin (UCD)

Dr Áine Mahon (UCD)

Dr Lisa Foran (UCD)

John Slade (NCAD)

Claire Campion (NCAD)

Robert Farrelly (Post Studio)

Rory McDonald (Post Studio)




The Belonging Project has been on display in MoLI and is currently on display in the UCD Student Village.


The Belonging Project team were awarded a UCD Values in Action award for bring the UCD values of collegiality, creativity and diversity to life.


The Belonging Project will be featured in the autumn/winter edition of UCD Today.

Things to Come

Publication: Belonging and the Post-Pandemic University