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About Us


ISS21 (Institute for Social Science in the 21st century) is an interdisciplinary research institute for the social sciences in UCC, that seeks to build, sustain and enhance research on social, economic and cultural issues that will shape Ireland during the 21st century.

ISS21 is built around dynamic, bottom-up, collaborations between over 200 staff across 19 Departments in the University. Through our interdisciplinary thematic Research Clusters & Working Groups and funded Research Projects, we address key questions facing Irish, European and global societies in the 21st century.

The Institute brings together social scientists from a broad range of disciplines to pursue research at Irish and international levels in interdisciplinary areas such as citizenship, childhood, innovation and creativity, family, gender, health, migration, social justice and sustainability. It involves collaboration between the following academic departments: Applied Social Studies, Applied Psychology, Chinese Studies, Economics, Education, Epidemiology and Public Health, Geography, General Practice, Government, History, Law, Nursing and Midwifery, Occupational Sciences and Therapies, Philosophy, Study of Religions and Sociology.

Our Vision and Mission

Our vision is to be a leading centre in Ireland for imaginative, interdisciplinary and impactful  social science research, responsive to the challenges and practices of life in 21st century society.

Our mission is to generate imaginative, interdisciplinary, impactful social science research knowledge/s and methodologies to illuminate and respond to the complexities and challenges of 21st century society. By acting as a platform for attracting external grant funding, and providing an enabling, energising and connecting space for social science researchers that fosters and accelerates the development of interdisciplinary research networks and collaborations, ISS21 builds UCC's social science research capacity to respond to demands for reflexive forms of knowledge, innovative research practices, critical intellectual debate, and public engagement.

What Preoccupies Us

Four preoccupations unify the work of ISS21 projects, research clusters and members:

  • Collective Futures: towards just and liveable societies. We are concerned with exploring societal change, and asking critical questions about the kind of future societies we want to live in. Whether in the context of healthcare or housing provision, the future of our environment, the integration of migrant children in schools, or indeed, how Ireland treats its dead, ISS21 researchers reflect on the past and envision the future by exploring what makes a more just and liveable society. Drawing on diverse theoretical approaches and engagement with multiple publics, we ask critical, value-based questions about some of the contemporary challenges facing our society.
  • Contemporary Socialities: identity, difference and everyday lives. ISS21 researchers are concerned with exploring the dynamics and complexities of human relations and contemporary socialities, whether in relation to the lifecourse, gender, family and sexuality, disability and mental health, or migration and mobility. Our research explores everyday subjectivities, identities, and interdependencies, from living as a carer in Irish society, to the experiences of people with disabilities, and the lived experience of energy consumption. We recognise the ways in which social difference becomes a marker for in/equality and marginalisation, and seek to connect individuals' lives with broader social, political and economic structures and dynamics happening at local, national and international scales.
  • Policy, Participation and Citizenship. ISS21's research focuses on exploring what it means to be a citizen, on processes of civic and political participation, and policy impacts and processes. Our research exposes the consequences of policy on society and people's everyday lives, engages with different voices, and has pioneered approaches to the participation of different groups in policy-making processes, including children and young people. ISS21 researchers work closely with government policymakers, NGOs and community and voluntary organisations in analysing the impacts of policy and contributing to research which evaluates and changes policy landscapes.
  • Innovative, Creative Research Praxis. Drawing on our interdisciplinary expertise and collaboration, ISS21 researchers are committed to exploring innovative methodological approaches in the social sciences, and fostering engaged research approaches with multiple publics and research partners, including creative and inclusive approaches. The Institute has particular strengths in qualitative, creative and participatory research approaches, and we strive to develop a culture of reflexivity and methodological imagination in our research praxis.

Irish Social Science Platform (ISSP)

ISS21 was established with the aid of funding from the PRTLI4 programme and is affiliated to the Irish Social Science Platform (ISSP), an all-island programme of theoretical, applied and comparative research and graduate training focused upon the core themes of Knowledge, Innovation, Society and Space, coherently linking together significant and well-established centres of social science expertise across a partnership of third-level institutions. The 8 ISSP partner institutions are Dublin City University, IT Sligo, Mary Immaculate College, NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, Queens University Belfast, University College Cork and University of Limerick.

ISSP research focuses on three strongly inter-related areas of recognised national importance: Building of the knowledge society/economy, supporting sustainable communities and promoting balanced regional and rural development and competitiveness. These themes are tied together and examined in relation to the concepts of innovation, spatial strategies and inclusion, providing a comprehensive understanding of contemporary Ireland.

Join Us

ISS21 welcomes new Research Associates from across all colleges and departments within UCC. Research Associate membership is open to social scientists from among current staff and research students in UCC who wish to be actively involved in interdisciplinary collaboration and promotion of the social sciences at UCC. To request a membership form, please email the ISS21 Research Coordinator, Dr. Margaret Scanlon (

Institute for Social Science in the 21st Century (ISS21)

Top Floor, Carrigbawn/Safari Building, Donovan Road, Cork, T12 YE30