Giving Northern Ireland bursaries opening a window on philanthropy

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Two post graduate students have each been granted £4,000 by Giving Northern Ireland to produce original academic work on philanthropy.

The two people awarded the academic research bursaries were Barry Sheppard, who is completing a Masters in Modern History at Queen’s University and Alicia Clarke, who is doing a Masters in Journalism at Ulster University in Coleraine.

Both students are conducting research designed to contribute to a better understanding of philanthropy and what drives people and organisations to give time, skills and financial resources to others.

Sandara Kelso-Robb, Strategic Advisor to Giving Northern Ireland said the bursaries aimed to promote awareness of philanthropy and to encourage a more strategic approach to giving.

She added: “These bursaries are encouraging people with fresh and innovative ideas to look at philanthropy through new eyes. I am very excited by the areas that Barry and Alicia have chosen to study. Their research can play a valuable role in promoting the benefits of philanthropy in Northern Ireland.”

Barry Sheppard is using the bursary as research for his Masters on the rural land movements of the 1930’s Great Depression period that took thousands of people away from the industrial cities and retrained them in small subsistence farming.

He said: “I am interested in how people coped with losing their jobs and their identity and how these groups created a new life and identity for people. There are going to be parallels with modern day and that is what Giving Northern Ireland is interested in.”

When he finishes his Masters he is hoping to go on to do a PhD in the same area of philanthropic research.

“I would really love to continue researching how the lessons of history can have a positive effect on public policy by offering advice and answers to contemporary problems. It’s an area I think there is a real need for in today’s difficult times.”

Alicia Clarke’s research will be into philanthro-journalism (also known as not-for-profit journalism), which is becoming increasingly popular on the internet. Philanthro-journalist organisations depend on funding from a benefactor such as charitable foundations.

Alicia said: “This form of journalism gives information freely to the community rather than making a profit. It can cover any topic including politics, economics and general interest stories.

“It is great that Giving Northern Ireland has offered these post graduate bursaries and hopefully my research will help to create more awareness of philanthropy. When it is completed, my dissertation will be available to be used by people interested in the subject who maybe want to set up a philanthro-journalist organisation.”

Board Director and Chairman of the Bursary Selection Panel, Janet Leckey said the bursary scheme was one of many initiatives set up by Giving Northern Ireland to promote its aim of championing and supporting philanthropic activity in Northern Ireland.

She added: “Inspiring and educating is a vital part of Giving Northern Ireland’s work. We look forward to this new research undertaken by our bursary students contributing to the knowledge of philanthropy and assisting in the development of a better understanding of the philanthropy environment.”

For more information about the work of Giving Northern Ireland go to: www.givingnorthernireland.org