This innovative research project aimed to capture people’s opinions and understanding of transport, mobility and liveability in Galway City, Ireland. Liveability refers to all the things that add up to a good community life including the design of neighbourhoods, the natural environment, economic prosperity, social stability and equity, educational opportunities, and good cultural, entertainment and recreation facilities. Transport is also central to facilitating urban liveability and mobility and transport systems should be designed to be adaptable and attractive, and aim to promote health, well-being, safety and accessibility. Key challenges that need to be considered in establishing a liveable city and to enhancing people’s wellbeing are; how we can learn from city transport legacy issues to improve on standard approaches and, how we can monitor liveability factors variations over a period of time and how transport contributes (UCL Transport Institute, 2014).
Data collection was carried out by researchers and undergraduate students from the School of Political Science & Sociology at the National University of Ireland Galway over the summer months of June, July and August 2016. Galway is a city on the west coast of Ireland in the province of Connacht with a population of 79,504 (CSO, 2016) and thus is an ideal site for investigating issues of transport and liveability as these relate to small cities and towns. Results and findings were disseminated by the team from autumn 2016 to academics, policy designers, key decision-makers, interested individuals and groups, and to the wider public.
The desire to connect research and teaching to create a productive and progressive framework for undergraduate teaching and learning has become one of the most significant areas for academic development in higher education. Neary and Winn (2009) maintain the positive effect on student learning through the inclusion of real-life, complex and unstructured research-like activities is at the core of undergraduate education, and following this paradigm the student acts as 'producer' of knowledge instead of simply knowledge consumer. The concept behind 'Student as Producer' is that student learning is grounded in research and research-like activities so that much of what the student learns will be through their own discoveries, working in collaboration with academic advisers and other students in a research-rich environment. Dialogic learning environments characterised by respectful collaboration and open-ended learning opportunities, motivate and engage learners (Bovill 2014, Hodge et al. 2008).
The Mobilities and Liveability in Galway project began in June 2016 with a number of workshops and team meetings and a questionnaire developed based on best practice and focused at understanding three separate theoretical concepts; devising a car-dependency metric, liveability and social capital in an urban setting and, urban walkability of neighbourhoods in Galway. The questionnaire was trailed and re-drafted and the data collection commenced in Galway based on an agreed stratified sampling approach. The survey ran from the 9th June to the 9th August; a copy of the questionnaire in pdf format is available to download by CLICKING HERE.