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UCD Smurfit School students top €500K for charity through innovative course module

  • Date: Wed, May 15, 2019

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Dublin Simon Community Donation

Dublin, Thursday, April 25- Masters in Project Management students at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School presented their end-of-semester projects which were focused on raising funds and awareness for nine Irish charities. Running since 2008, the annual module has now raised over €500,000 for Irish not-for-profit organisations.

The brainchild of Asst Professor of Project Management Joe Houghton, the module challenges students to utilize project management skills learned in the programme in a live learning experience. The result supports charities with needed resources including time, skill, and funding. Partnering with charity organisations also allows students to experience work in the non-for-profit field, an area which may be unfamiliar to many of them. The involvement offers a deep-dive into the needs of charitable organisations in comparison to corporate entities.

This year, Lecturer Robert Manning taught and guided 38 students in the unique course, many of whom had personal connections to the causes their charities supported. The cohort, of both full-time and part-time students, reigned from 13 countries, including China, India, Brazil, Canada, Russia, Ireland and more, promoting strong cross-cultural teamwork.

 UCD Smurfit school Project management Lecturer

Nine groups were formed and the students raised over €45,000, as well as a tremendous amount of awareness through social media and PR exposure, for their chosen charities. Representatives from each of the nine organisations attended the groups’ final presentations and received a check for the amounts raised.


The ‘Swim for Simon’ event raised over €12,000 for the Dublin Simon Community. “Being cold is a great leveller,” said student Shane Moffatt. “People on the streets deal with cold all the time and this swim allowed participants to experience that cold, albeit for just a brief moment, to help try to build at least a small piece of understanding.” Studuent Johanna Kennedy said the experience taught the students the value of teamwork, the ability to deal with unplanned challenges and to remain flexible in making strategic changes to an initial plan. 

The students supporting Friends of the Elderly Ireland found a special connection with the Director of the organisation, Jim O’Brien, who himself is a UCD BComm ’59 graduate and celebrating his 60th graduation anniversary this year. Jim thanked the students for their dedicated support in encouraging not only donations, but the recruitment of 23 new volunteers to help the organisation combat loneliness in Ireland’s ageing population.

The nine organisations supported include LauraLynn Children’s Hospice, Thrombosis Ireland, Dublin Simon Community, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Cancer Fund for Children, ISPCC Childline, Aware, Our Lady’s Hospice, and Friends of the Elderly Ireland.

UCD Smurfit School Asst. Professor of Project Management, Joe Houghton said: “The UCD Smurfit School experience is not just about great courses led by top academics and business people. Students are encouraged to develop their confidence, networks and links to commerce and non-profits through the inclusion of external speakers in classes, and also through completing assignments in collaboration with Irish companies and non-profits.” 

UCD Smurfit School Project Management Lecturer Robert Manning said: “These students are living the UCD Smurfit School mission in the most important way - being in the world and for the world. Business education is at the fore of all we do at UCD Smurfit School and part of that is to give back and have a positive impact in the world. This ethos began with the founding members of our Schools and leaves a lasting legacy for all of our students—one that is evident in the work of our students in the MSc in Project Management programme.

What the students learned from this project is something that they will take with them, to become more ethically and morally aware. There is no scarcity in human endeavour, emotion and connection when we do something good for our fellow man.”

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