Prof Aislinn O'Donnell

Education, Centre for Public Education and Pedagogy

On Sabbatical

Maynooth University School of Education
(01) 708 3604


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.


Research Interests

Aislinn was co-PI on EDURAD, an ISF-P funded project seeking to develop educational responses to extremism in partnership with University of Linz, CSI (Cyprus), FUAS (Germany) and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. She led the ERASMUS+ project The Enquiring Classroom (2016-2018) partnering with MIC (Limerick), Sodertörn (Sweden) and Ellinogermaniki Agogi (Greece). Together with Felicity Colman (UAL), Vera Bühlmann (U. Wien) and Iris van der Tuin (University of Utrecht), she was co-PI on the Horizon 2020 project Ethics of Coding: A Report on the Algorithmic Condition from 2016-2017. She partnered on Embracing Cultural Diversity in the Classroom (2018-2020) project funded by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission & Creative Ireland led by Chester Beatty Library with partners - MIC, NUIM, Intercultural Education Service NI & Heritec.

She has developed a number of creative research and teaching projects. Together with gallery educator and curator, Katy Fitzpatrick, she has created a collaborative project called Art and Philosophy in the Classroom. She has an ongoing practice introducing community philosophy and other educational initiatives through an inter-disciplinary lens to prison and probation projects.

She is co-Chair of the Society of Women in Philosophy (SWIP-Ireland), Vice-Chair of the Irish Penal Reform Trust and was on the Management Committee of the COST Network (IS1307) “How Matter comes to Matter”. She is also a member of the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF) Irish Network.

Research Projects

Title Role Description Start date End date Amount
EDURAD: Educational Responses to Extremism Co-Principal Investigator The field of PE-E or PVE-E (Preventing (Violence) Extremism through Education) is a growing one. PVE-E approaches are increasingly implemented in schools across Europe, but there is a good deal of debate about what makes an approach to (violent) extremism an educational one. The question that motivates this project is how to make P(V)E-E work better. EDURAD builds on the work that exists in the field in seeking to develop an improved understanding what P(V)E-E means in diverse educational settings and in different cultural contexts. The purpose of the project is to support educators in developing their pedagogical skills and critical awareness and in so doing increase their confidence in, and willingness to, deal with the topic of extremism in education. Drawing on the theory and practice of P(V)E-E, this project is developing tools that are based on pedagogical values such as: freedom, listening, criticality, reflection, dialogue, autonomy, pluralism, equality, and participation in education. These values help to address the question of extremism proactively, instead of reactively. Working with these values and principles opens up educational spaces that can support educators in working with young people to explore the question of extremism, and the issue of violent extremism, in a way that is educational, participatory, meaningful, and imaginative. 01/01/2020 31/12/2021 666392
Embracing Cultural Diversity in the Classroom (2018-2020) Partner This project is co-funded by IHREC and Creative Ireland. The Chester Beatty’s Learning and Education Department offers a wide range of ways to learn about and engage with our collections. Through our vibrant and exciting programme of events and professional training for teachers, educators and creatives, we offer opportunities to explore world cultures, as found in Chester’s Beatty’s Islamic, East Asian and European collections. Intercultural dialogue and learning plays a key role in the museum’s mission and fosters dialogue with the communities as represented in the collections. The Chester Beatty Library's Learning and Education Department has worked for several years exploring ways to engage primary, post-primary schools and teachers with this unique collection and has initiated an 18 month project to research, develop and build its first Intercultural Museum programme for schools (2018-2020). As part of this process, it invited Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, Maynooth University, the Intercultural Education Service (Education Authority of Northern Ireland) and UK Heritec Education Consultancy to partner and develop the programme. 01/10/2018 01/03/2020 20000
Horizon 2020: The Ethics of Coding: A Report on the Algorithmic Condition Co-Investigator This project, The Ethics of Coding, prepares research that will provide an indexical report on the conceptual and thematic issues of Information and Communication Technologies [ICT] - related research and innovation. When we think of ethical guidelines for research innovations, usually a tick-box approach to the consideration of research design involving degrees of human sampling, or confidential information and security issues comes to mind. However, when we consider some of the essential changes that innovations in ICT have brought to European communities across the sciences, business, healthcare, education, and social models, and at the level of the possibilities of “life” itself, then it stands that this radical change in the conditions for life require a more specific form of ethical guidance. Where ethics currently exists in ICT research and innovation it is usually focussed on the consideration of security of data, or copyright law information. While these issues are unquestionably necessary, for the use and implementation of new ICT models, there are other aspects that have changed; namely the ethics of the production and implementation of forms of knowledge, in a digitized economy. In this sense, this project argues that an ethics that extends beyond the existing models is called for. This would be an ethics of coding, respond-able to the specificity of the future ICT design and the Digital Single Market [DSM], The main objective for this project are three-fold: 1. To report on the algorithmic conditions of the European Union’s ICT environment 2. To propose ethical codes adequate for this environment, 3. To recommend the introduction of a quantum literacy educational model 01/01/2017 31/12/2017 265222.5
The Enquiring Classroom (ERASMUS+) Lead Partner Summary Context/Background: The Enquiring Classroom (TEC) was developed in order to progress inclusive and pluralistic pedagogical approaches to addressing pressing contemporary questions in relation to democracy, values, identity, integration, religions, beliefs and (forced) migration in educational settings. Whilst a number of approaches address individual issues like citizenship or racism or religion, the TEC project aimed to create pluralistic pedagogies to support teachers in facilitating engagement with a wide range of contemporary questions, supported by a clear philosophy of education. These approaches were designed be incorporated either into existing curricula through a permeated approach or discrete thematic pedagogical interventions. Four key issues drove this in 2016: 1. Forced migration and education of children who were refugees and asylum seekers; 2. Shifts towards more securitised approaches to education that risked shutting down spaces for discussion; 3. The need for educational spaces to invite reflection and dialogue about values, religions and beliefs in the European context; 4. The demand amongst educators for facilitation skills and capacity building in particular in relation to engaging with difficult or challenging topics in schools. The choice of Greece, Ireland, and Sweden was informed by divergent responses and experiences to the refugee crisis, to the question of migration, and to the role of religion in society. This handbook was developed through Erasmus KA2 Funding, Project 2016-2-KA201-016892 Details of the project can be found here: 01/09/2016 31/08/2018 210455
COST: New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on ‘How Matter Comes to Matter’. Management Committee Member Scholars presently exploring "how matter comes to matter" call themselves new or neo-materialists. They do radically interdisciplinary research based on the conviction that the current economic, ecological and political crises as well as technological advances and everyday practices do not allow a conception of "matter" as (an) object(s) that could be captured along traditional disciplinary lines. Stock market crashes, earthquakes and the increasing complexification of political and social systems (and their breakdowns) demonstrate active interventions of materials previously regarded mute or socially constructed. Meaning-making "to matter" does not occur only in the linguistic frameworks academic research applies to phenomena and crises in a retrograde move. The current European new materialist scene is vibrant but remains largely dispersed compared to the U.S.A., which dominates discussions at the moment. This Action wants to network European new materialisms: how do they look, and what can they innovate? 23/04/2014 22/04/2018

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2022 O'Donnell, A. et al (2022) 'Philosophy of education in a new key: Future of philosophy of education'. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 54 (8):1234-1255. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2022 Aislinn O'Donnell (2022) 'Sharing the world without losing oneself: education in a pluralistic universe'. Discourse-Studies In The Cultural Politics Of Education, 43 (5):666-685. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 O'Donnell, A (2018) 'Spinoza, experimentation and education: How things teach us'. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 50 :819-829. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2018 O’Donnell A. (2018) 'Experimentation in Institutions: Ethics, Creativity, and Existential Competence'. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 37 (1):31-46. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Aislinn O'Donnell (2017) 'Anti-Heroic Education: For the Scavengers and the Gleaners'. 5 (2):17-38. [Full-Text]
2017 Aislinn O'Donnell (2017) 'The Matter of Thinking: Material Thinking and the Natural History of Humankind'. 6 (1):39-54. [Link] [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 Aislinn O'Donnell (2017) 'Shame is already a revolution: The politics of affect in Gilles Deleuze'. 11 (1). [Link] [DOI] [Full-Text]
2017 O’Donnell A. (2017) 'Pedagogical injustice and counter-terrorist education'. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 12 (2):177-193. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 O’Donnell A. (2016) 'Securitisation, Counterterrorism and the Silencing of Dissent: The Educational Implications of Prevent'. British Journal of Educational Studies, 64 (1):53-76. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 Todd S.; Jones R.; O'Donnell A. (2016) 'Introduction: Shifting education's philosophical imaginaries: relations, affects, bodies, materialities'. Gender and Education, 28 (2):187-194. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2016 O’Donnell A. (2016) 'Contagious ideas: vulnerability, epistemic injustice and counter-terrorism in education'. Educational Philosophy and Theory, :1-17. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 O'Donnell A. (2015) 'Curriculum as Conversation: Vulnerability, Violence, and Pedagogy in Prison'. Educational Theory, 65 (4):475-490. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2015 O'Donnell A. (2015) 'Contemplative Pedagogy and Mindfulness: Developing Creative Attention in an Age of Distraction'. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 49 (2):187-202. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2014 O'Donnell A. (2014) 'Another Relationship to Failure: Reflections on Beckett and Education'. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 48 (2):260-275. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2013 O'Donnell A. (2013) 'Unpredictability, Transformation, and the Pedagogical Encounter: Reflections on What is Effective in Education'. Educational Theory, 63 (3):265-282. [DOI] [Full-Text]
2012 O'Donnell A. (2012) 'Thinking-in-concert'. Ethics and Education, 7 (3):261-275. [DOI] [Full-Text]

Edited Book

Year Publication
2015 Aislinn O'Donnell (Ed.). (2015) The Inclusion Delusion? Reflections on Democracy, Ethos and Education. Oxford: Peter Lang,

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2021 Aislinn O'Donnell (2021) ''What is an Educational Response to Extreme and Radical Ideas, and Why Does it Matter?'' In: Encountering Extremism: Theoretical Issues and Local Challenges. Manchester : Manchester University Press.
2015 Aislinn O'Donnell (2015) 'Introduction' In: The Inclusion Delusion?: Reflections on Democracy, Ethos, and Education. Oxford : Peter Lang.
2015 Aislinn O'Donnell (2015) 'Beyond Hospitality: Re-imagining Inclusion in Education’' In: The Inclusion Delusion?: Reflections on Democracy, Ethos and Education. Oxford : Peter Lang.
2015 Aislinn O'Donnell (2015) 'The Human Animal' In: Between a Dog and a Wolf. Derry : CCA.
2015 Aislinn O'Donnell (2015) 'Experimental Philosophy and Pedagogy: A Single Vision' In: Arts, Pedagogy and Cultural Resistance. London : Rowman and Littlefield.
2014 Aislinn O'Donnell and Jonathan Cummins (2014) 'Speaking the Truth to Power: Parrhesia, Critical Inquiry, and Education in Prison' In: Re-Imagining Imprisonment in Europe. Liffey Press : Dublin.
2014 Aislinn O'Donnell and Anonymous Authors (2014) 'Cartesian Meditations: Voice, Body, Mind and the Prison' In: Philosophy Imprisoned: The Love of Wisdom in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Maryland : Lexington Books.
2012 Aislinn O'Donnell (2012) 'Transformative Education' In: New Educational Horizons in Contemporary Ireland. Oxford : Peter Lang.
2011 Aislinn O'Donnell (2011) 'Of Love, Failure and Revolutions' In: Deleuze and Sex. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press.

Published Report

Year Publication
2019 Aislinn O'Donnell, Lovisa Bergdahl, Patricia Kieran, Stephanos Cherouvis, Elisabet Langmann (2019) The Enquiring Classroom Handbook. European Commission ERAMUS+, . [Link] [Full-Text]
2019 Aislinn O'Donnell, Lovisa Bergdahl, Patricia Kieran, Stephanos Cherouvis, Elisabet Langmann (2019) The Enquiring Classroom Theoretical Framework. European Commission - ERASMUS+, . [Link]
2018 Colman, F., O’Donnell, A., Bühlmann, F & I. Van der Tuin (2018) Ethics of Coding: A Report on the Algorithmic Condition. European Commission, . [Link]
2012 Aislinn O (2012) The NCAD Fine Art Programme in Portlaoise Prison: Historical Chronology. NCAD, . [Link]


Year Publication
2016 Aislinn O'Donnell (2016) Epistemic Injustice and the Policing of the Artworld. [Article] [Link] [Full-Text]


Year Publication
2019 Aislinn O'Donnell (2019) An Alchemical Proposition - Time to Think: Subtracting the Citizen Artist from the Command to Be Active. [Catalog]
2018 Aislinn O'Donnell (2018) Our Common World: Incarceration and Exile. [Catalog] [Link]
2013 Aislinn O'Donnell (2013) Who will refuse me the right to listen. [Catalog] [Link] [Full-Text]
2013 Aislinn O'Donnell (2013) On Listening, if you wish. [Catalog] [Link] [Full-Text]

Educational Article

Year Publication
2018 O’Donnell, A (2018) Why Schools must give up the myth of success. [Educational Article] [Link]

Electronic Publication

Year Publication
2022 O (2022) Sharing the World: Educational Responses to Extremism. [Electronic Publication] [Link]

Encyclopedia Entry

Year Publication
2007 Aislinn O'Donnell (2007) Kristeva. London: [Encyclopedia Entry]

Invited Review Articles

Year Publication
2019 Aislinn O'Donnell (2019) Muslims, Schooling and Security: Trojan Horse, Prevent and Racial Politics by Shamim Miah. [Invited Review Articles] [Link]


Year Publication
2014 Aislinn O'Donnell, Positive Now and the All-Ireland Network of PLHIV (2014) HIV: Our Responsibilities. [Manual] [Link] [Full-Text]

Newspaper Articles

Year Publication
2020 O’Donnell, A (2020) Does Philosophy have a Problem with Race?. [Newspaper Articles] [Link]
2018 Aislinn O'Donnell (2018) Why we need community philosophy. [Newspaper Articles] [Link]
2015 Aislinn O'Donnell (2015) Teaching Children about World Religions and Ethics could help counter Islamophobia’. [Newspaper Articles] [Link]


Year Publication
2013 Aislinn O'Donnell (2013) The Impossible Conversation. [Artwork] [Link] [Full-Text]
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2024) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.


Committee Function From / To
SRESC Social Science Research Ethics Commitee Committee Member 01/09/2018 - 31/08/2019
University of Sanctuary Committee Committee Member 01/10/2018 - 14/03/2021
MJMU Board (Mountjoy Maynooth Prison University Partnership) Board Member 01/10/2019 - 14/03/2021
Irish Penal Reform Trust Vice-Chair 01/09/2016 - 14/03/2021
Journal of Prison Education and Re-Entry Research Editor 01/06/2017 - 14/03/2021
Educational Theory Editorial Board Member 01/03/2017 - 14/03/2021


Start date Institution Qualification Subject
University of Warwick PhD Philosophy
University College Dublin Masters (First Class Honours) Philosophy
Georgetown University Graduate One Year Non-Degree Scholarship Political Theory, Government and Philosophy
Trinity College Dublin BA (First Class Honours) Politics and Sociology
Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Strasbourg, France Erasmus Year Politics and Sociology

Outreach Activities

Organisation Type Description
COST Network 'New Materialisms': TATE Training School’ Civic Society COST Network 'New Materialisms' TATE Training School’: Delivered 'Art Matters'. An art and philosophy public workshop at TATE in collaboration with Katy Fitzpatrick. [Link]
Positive Now and All-Ireland Network of People Living with HIV Civic Society Positive Now and All-Ireland Network of People Living with HIV: Workshops and collaborative writing and production of booklet "HIV: Our Responsibilities". [Link]
Studio 468 Civic Society Studio 468 and Common Ground "Citizen Artist" programme: Witness, interlocutor and engagement in developing public events in collaboration.
Philosophy Ireland Civic Society PHILOSOPHY Ireland: Founding member of new grassroots network Philosophy Ireland that seeks to promote philosophy in schools and in communities on the island of Ireland. [Link]
Dublin Ships Project Civic Society Dublin Ships Project: Collaboration with four schools commissioned by Dublin City Council (Ruari O'Cuiv and Liz Coman) in response to Cliona Harmey's public art commission. Working in collaboration with Cliona Harmey (artist), Martina Galvin (artist) and Katy Fitzpatrick (gallery educator and curator) and the following schools: St Lawrence’s Girls National School, St Lawrence’s Boys National School (Sheriff Street), St Joseph’s National School (East Wall) and St Patrick’s Girls National School (Ringsend). [Link]
PALLS (Probation and Linkage in Limerick Scheme) Civic Society PALLS (Probation and Linkage in Limerick Scheme): Taught philosophy in the project over the period of 2011-2014.
Portlaoise Prison Civic Society Portlaoise Prison: Taught philosophy in the prison to both social and Republican prisoners from 2010-2015
PACE Civic Society PACE: Taught philosophy to people on day release from prison and on the community scheme from 2010-2011.
Project 2020 Civic Society Project 2020: Art and Philosophy Project in Collaboration with Dublin City Council and The Lab, Dublin City Gallery. Collaboration with children and teachers from Rutland St NS and Gaelscoil Mhuire, Parnell Square.
FASNET - Dublin Aids Alliance Civic Society FASNET - Dublin Aids Alliance: Pedagogical project supported by GradCAM and Dublin Aids Alliance. Developed "Two Laws" project with students on Special Community Employment scheme from 2009-2010.
Nghathal Youth Club, Manipur Civic Society Nghathal Youth Club, Manipur: Developed funding proposals and collaborated on development of music project to respond to HIV and drug use in Churchandpur, North-East India. Secured funding from range of funders including MTV Staying Alive Foundation and UNODC. [Link]
EVA International Civic Society EVA International 2016: 8 week art and philosophy project with children from Scoil Mhathair De and Le Cheile after school project, engaging with the 2016 EVA Biennial exhibition curated by Koyo Kouoh "Still (the) Barbarians". [Link]
EVA International Civic Society EVA international 2014: 8 week art and philosophy project with children from Scoil Mhathair De, Limerick, engaging with the 2014 EVA Biennial exhibition curated by Bassam El-Baroni, "Agitationism". [Link]
Wicklow Imaginaries Civic Society Wicklow Imaginaries: A Collaborative Art and Philosophy Project with Katy Fitzpatrick (Gallery Educator and Curator), Fiona Hallinan (Artist) and Jennie Guy (Curator), St Mary's and St Gerard's NS, Enniskerry and Educate Together NS, Bray. Wicklow Council and Arts Council Funded.
Soilse Civic Society SOILSE: Designed and taught six-week philosophy programme to people in recovery from drug use.

Recent Students

Graduation date Name Degree
2020 Lindsey Liston PhD
2021 Margaret Murphy PhD