Dr Derek Barter

Adult and Community Education, ALL Institute

Co-ordinator of Continuing Education Programmes and Manager BA Local Studies and BA Community Studies

Maynooth University School of Education
(01) 708 3948


Dr Derek Barter is the Continuing Education Co-Ordinator in the Dept. of Adult and Community Education (DACE) Maynooth University.  Completing a PhD in modern history in 2009, his dissertation focussed on identity politics in Ireland, nationalism, de-Anglicisation, unsettled social and constitutional relationships through the competing discourses of culture in the popular song tradition. While undertaking his doctoral research, Dr. Barter began working for the City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee as an Education Development Worker in the Soilse Drug Free project in Dublin’s north inner city. He initiated the NUI Maynooth Return to Learning Programme in Soilse which helped the programme to with two Aontas Star awards.   At the same time he began working in the Canals Community Partnership managing, designing and developing community based educational programmes in the south inner city in Bluebell, Dolphin’s Barn, Fatima Mansions, Rialto and Inchicore. It was in these posts that main areas of interest  ‘Community Engagement and Widening Participation within HE’ began.

    In his post as Academic Co-ordinator of Continuing Education in the Department of Adult and Community Education in Maynooth University his main aim is to facilitate the entry into higher education of mature students who may or may not be first time entrants to university and foster a culture of lifelong learning for personal, community and professional development. This includes the night-time/part-time degree for adults the BA Local Studies/BA Community Studies. Dr Barter works with different statutory, voluntary and especially community organisations in order fulfil the university’s strategic goal for Community Engagement (Campus Engage). Initiatives, such as the Communiversity, which brings higher education out of the campus in a partnership arrangement between MU, Leader Partnership Companies and Local Public Libraries, is a good example of Campus Engage in action.

  He has played a role in developing Maynooth University new curriculum for undergraduate students and delivers the modules A Social Analysis of Everyday Life: Reflective Practice and A Social Analysis of Everyday Life: Experiential Learning.  He was a member of the steering committee for the HEA PATH 1 Turn to Teaching.  Through dialogue with community partners he  proposed the Think About Teaching module of the programme 2017 designed to attract adults from marginalised communities into Initial Teacher Education. These links to the community partners proved invaluable in securing the highest tranche of funding for MU from any of the submitting HEIs.

 In 2021 funding was secured through the Europe for Citizens programme under the Democratic engagement and civic participation strand where he will lead a consortium of six partners from across the European continent to engage both students and members of the general public to consider identity and policy questions under the title ‘Foundation for Futures Europe’.

Research Interests

Community Engagement. Widening Participation. Addiction Recovery and Rehabilitation.

Honours and Awards

  Year Title Awarding Body
2009 2009: NALA ACE award winner for Soilse/NUIM Return to Learn
2010 2010: Aontas STAR award winner.
2008 2008: Aontas STAR award winner Dublin and Leinster region.

Teaching Interests

I have been teaching study skills to adult students on the night-time degree for the past number of years.  Teaching adults returning to education or entering university for the first time is immensely rewarding and to witness the journey that people undertake within their first semester let alone the from beginning study to graduation and beyond is an incredible privilege.  I fully believe the the best support that students have is from their fellow students and besides giving people the expected mechanical skills of reading academic texts, note taking, research and writing skills I strive to create a learning environment wherein the student can, through dialogue with their peers and the course material, develop their ability to think critically about the social, political and economic forces that impact upon their lives and reflect upon their own position in relation to these phenomena. Critical reflection in this sense being the impetus for action.

I am also currently teaching first year undergraduate Critical Skills Reflective Practice and Experiential Learning.  The new curriculum has given me the opportunity to engage with a younger aged cohort and use pedagogical methods that I have built up over the years to encourage these students to explore their life world as emerging adults with a critical eye.The Critical Skills modules that I deliver are very much process driven.  They are designed to not so much de-programme Leaving Certificate students as so many critics of the second level exam based system suggest is necessary but to allow space for decompression and personal development. 

Being in the liminal position between two sets of students whose life trajectories and motivations for studying in a Higher Education institution are very different it has been interesting to say the least.  To be able to implement some of the same curriculum content and get each perspective will inform my teaching practice into the future.

External Collaborators

  Name Role / Description Country
Ballyfermot Partnership Community Engagement Partner IRELAND
Northside Partnership Community Engagement Partner IRELAND