James McGuirk

Head of Centre of Diaconia and Professional Practice
Oslo, Norway
Bachelor of Arts (1996)
MA - Philosophy (1997)

I loved my time at Maynooth. I had great relationships with staff and fellow students. I remember with particular fondness the long afternoons discussing matters academic and non-academic at the university canteen and the students union.

I was the recipient of the Cardinal Mercier prize for the highest grade in the Bachelor’s in Philosophy. I received the Faculties stipend for further study at Maynooth the same year. This award financed my Master’s degree. I was awarded the NUI Travelling Studentship (1997-2000) and the Flemish Community scholarship for study abroad and in Flanders respectively, the following year. These awards were based on my work at Maynooth and went a long way to financing my doctoral studies.

Maynooth is a great place to study. It manages to be a big University on a small campus. The proximity to Dublin makes it very central, while the relatively small number of staff and students provides an intimacy that is not always achievable in bigger metropolitan areas.

Maynooth was formative for me both as a student and as an employee. As a student, I learned the discipline of Philosophy along with its attendant skills (critical thinking, text reading, debate and discussions skills). As an employee, the most important lesson was the crucial role of collegiality for a successful place of work.

Do it.

I completed my Bachelors degree at Maynooth in 1996, before enrolling in the first taught Master’s in Philosophy, which I completed in 1997. On the advice of the then Head of Department, I continued my studies at the doctoral level at the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven in Belgium, where I completed my doctoral degree in 2004. During the preparation of my PhD, I returned to the Philosophy Department at Maynooth as a member of staff between 2001-03. I taught Philosophy at the University of Stavanger from 2005-2006 and was also employed at Maynooth again in 2006. I was appointed Associate Professor of Philosophy at Nord University in 2007 and was promoted to the rank of Professor in 2011. I have been a visiting professor at Södertörn University college in Stockholm and at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia.

The highlight of my career to date was probably my promotion to the rank of professor for my research in Phenomenology and Hermeneutics at the age of 36, in 2011.

I am Professor of Philosophy at the Centre for Practical Knowledge at Nord University. The Centre is an interdisciplinary research unit that combines resources from Philosophy and the Humanities, with Social and Natural Science in researching the nature and development of practical knowledge and professional practice. My work includes teaching and the supervision of research projects.

The University sector has undergone major changes in recent years with regard to the management of its educational practice and the funding of research. Not all of these changes have been for the better. Nevertheless, the basics of the job remain relatively unchanged. The most rewarding parts of the job are working with students in their pursuit of knowledge and independent thinking and with colleagues in the development and execution of research projects.