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Maja Haals Brosnan PhD



01 853 5165
St Mary's, Room 107

Dr. Maja Haals Brosnan, Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, Coordinator of research methods and dissertations and Coordinator of elective modules. External examiner for BA in ECE, Mary Immaculate College.

MPhil/PhD in Social Anthropology of childhood. Title: Claims to orphanhood: an ethnographic investigation of childhood adversity in post-genocide Rwanda.

Research interests: Childhood adversity and trauma, Cultural diversity and inclusion in the early years, Play, Educational disadvantage in ECE, ECE policy, innovative research methods with children.


Dr. Maja Haals Brosnan is a lecturer in early childhood education in Marino Institute of Education. Dr. Haals Brosnan has a PhD in social anthropology, with a focus on childhood. Her doctoral thesis explored the social and political dynamics of community support for children experiencing severe adversity in post-genocide Rwanda. Since moving to Ireland, Dr. Haals Brosnan has worked primarily with research on policy and evidence informed practice in the field of children, young people and families, and in recent years specifically on early childhood education. Research projects have included national quality standards for youth work, the use of evidence in the policymaking cycle and the experiences of unaccompanied minors in Ireland.

Dr. Haals Brosnan acted as chief editor of the Children’s Research Network’s Research Digest for a number of years and led the publication of Research Digests on topics including children and young people’s transitions (e.g. between home and school), resilience and social support, play and participatory research with children and young people. Prior to taking up her position in Marino Institute of Education, Dr. Haals Brosnan worked as occasional lecturer for the Froebel Department at Maynooth University and worked as a freelance research consultant, amongst others on a review of the National Quality Standards Framework for Youth Work. She is currently chief editor for the working paper series of the Development Studies Association of Ireland and acts on the scientific committee for Early Childhood Ireland.

In recent years, Dr. Haals Brosnan has turned to lecturing and researching in early childhood education where her lecturing and research are now all based. Research to date includes parental involvement in children’s early primary education, as well as a variety of smaller research projects as diverse as the inclusion of children with additional needs in early childhood education settings, which informed the new AIM model, and the use of ICT in ECEC settings and children’s homes, along with programme evaluations and research for policy submissions.

Dr. Haals Brosnan currently lectures on early childhood education policy, research methods, inclusive and intercultural education (cultural diversity and educational disadvantage), as well as curriculum and assessment. Current research interests include early childhood education policy, cultural diversity and inclusion in early childhood education and inclusive early education more generally. Dr. Haals Brosnan is particularly interested in anti-bias education and facilitating inclusive education through play, emergent curriculum and a funds of knowledge approach. She is currently planning smaller research projects on the role of play and the use of learning stories for intercultural and inclusive early childhood education.

Dr. Haals Brosnan supervises research at undergraduate and masters level. Research projects currently being supervised include research in Early Start Units, early childhood educators’ job satisfaction, the implementation of national policies in local settings, addressing educational disadvantage through early childhood education, and the role of play herein, as well as the integration of Aistear and Montessori and the use of Aistear in infant classes in primary school.

Recent Research Publications

Kiely, J., O’ Toole, L., Haals-Brosnan, M., O’ Brien, E., O’ Keeffe, C and Dunne C. (2019). Parental involvement, engagement and partnership in their children’s learning during the primary school years: Part 2 (A) Case Studies and (B) Oral Language Workshops. Dublin: NCCA

Haals Brosnan, M., O’Brien, E. and O’Toole, L. (2019). In press. Supporting children's home learning environment through partnerships with parents. Conference proceedings from the 2019 Annual National Research Conference.

Whelan, E. and Haals Brosnan, M. (2019). In press. The Benefits of the Early Start Programme. Conference proceedings from the 2019 Annual National Research Conference. 

Kenny, S. and Haals Brosnan, M. (2019). In press. The role of the Early Start Programme in preparing disadvantaged children for primary school. Conference proceedings from the 2019 Annual National Research Conference. In press. 

Haals Brosnan, M. (2016). 2016    Different Childhoods, Different Ethnographies: Encounters with Children in Post-Genocide Rwanda. In C. Allerton, ed., Children: Ethnographic Encounters. London: Bloomsbury Press.

Recent Research Presentations

2019    Time to play: children’s and parents’ experiences of school-home balance. Revolutionising play: International conference at Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick

2019    Supporting children's home learning environment through partnerships with parents. Presentation at Early Childhood Ireland’s annual national research conference.

2018    Write me on the list of orphans. Departmental Seminar presentation in the Department of Anthropology, Sussex University.

2016    Cultural and political brokerage: the needs of translation in post-genocide Rwanda. Presentation at workshop “On Pandering” to a Western Readership: Building a Network around Activist Translation, to be held at UCC in September. A special issue journal publication will emerge from this.

2014    Qualitative Methods for Use with Children and Young People in Adverse Situations. Presentation at ESRC Children & Youth Seminar Series: Doctoral workshop on research methodologies, Oxford University

2014    Ethnographic fieldwork with children and young people in adverse situation. Workshop at London School of Economics and Political Science.

2014    Post-genocide Politics and the Implementation of Children’s Rights in Rwanda. Workshop on

Childhood in the Global South, University of Liege, Belgium

2011-2012 A series of research presentations at conferences in Rwanda and the UK.