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Sandra Austin PhD



01 805 7757
St Patrick's, Room 32


Sandra completed her undergraduate studies in Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin in 1989 and spent almost two decades as a cardiovascular research scientist in Ireland and the USA, receiving a Ph.D. (Pharmacology) in 2001 from the National University of Ireland.  From 2006 she retrained as a horticulturist, working at the Eden Project, Cornwall, UK and then as co-ordinator of Grow Your Own Future, a Dublin-based horticultural training and accreditation programme for lone parents.  From 2013-2016 she lectured in primary science education at St. Patrick’s College of Education, completing her Master of Education while there.  She was national co-ordinator for the RDS STEM Learning Project, a professional development programme for primary teachers, from 2015-2016. Since 2016 she has been lecturer in Social, Environmental and Scientific Education at Marino Institute of Education, Dublin.

Section/ Rannóg: Department of Global Diversity, Sustainability & Intercultural Education

Qualifications/ Cáilíochtaí: 

PhD Pharmacology (UCD); MEd Teaching & Learning (DCU); BA Mod Natural Sciences (TCD); FETAC 5/6 Horticulture (Teagasc).

Teaching/ Múineadh:

  • Social, Environmental and Scientific Education: BEd1, BEd2, BEd3, PME1
  • Education for Sustainable Development: BSc Ed Studies 2
  • Inquiry-based Learning and the Environment: MES-IBL
  • Research Thesis Supervisor, MES-IBL

Research and Professional Interests/Taighde agus Sainspéiseanna

Sandra’s research interests include garden-based and outdoor learning; inquiry-based learning in science and environmental education; education for sustainability; the potential for learning beyond the classroom. 

Current Projects 

My Primary School is at the Museum: Developing a national network supporting sustained partnerships between the cultural and education sectors.  The network aims to encourage, support and facilitate the development of extended cultural residencies for schools in cultural institutions, and to link with the international MPSM network.

Committee/Organisation Memberships/Coistí agus Ballraíochtaí 

Irish Association for Primary Science Education (IAPSE) Executive Committee

Chartered Institute of Horticulture Ireland Branch Committee (Co-ordinator, Young Horticulturist of the Year competition Ireland)

My Primary School is at the Museum Research Network – Ireland co-ordinator.

Selection of Forthcoming and Recent Publications/Foilseacháin le Déanaí

Austin, S (2021)  Education about, through and for the environment: a scientific inquiry approach. In: Kavanagh, A.M., Waldron, F. and Mallon, B. (ed.s) Teaching for social justice and sustainable development across the primary curriculum. Routledge, Oxford: Chapter 4.

Austin, S., Bacon, K., Greenwood, R., & Pike, S. (2020) Embedding and nurturing enquiry-based learning: Exploring multiplicities of enquiry in initial teacher education. [Final report, ENEBLe Project]. Armagh: SCoTENs.

Austin, S. (2020) Translating critical thinking into meaningful action. In: O’Toole, B., Joseph, E. and Nyaluke, D. (ed.s) Challenging perceptions of Africa in schools: critical approaches to global justice education. Routledge, London.

Selection of Recent Presentations/Comhdhálacha le Déanaí:

Feb 2019: Invited Speaker, Heritage in Schools Annual Conference: “Connecting with Curriculum – SESE and beyond.”