Name: Niamh Brennan
Course taken: MA in Development Studies (completed 2007)
I have always been interested in why the world is so unequal. This is the reason I went to work as a Columban Lay Missionary on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, believing, perhaps naively, that I might be able to change things. After my three years in the Philippines I returned to Ireland. My world had quite literally been turned upside down. The ideas I had about poverty, the ideas I had about change, the ideas I had about life, had all been subverted and now seemed to be standing there, mocking me and my 19 years spent in the education system.
I went to Kimmage to try and make sense of my experience. Development Studies was a new concept for me and I felt there could be answers provided. But there were none. Are there ever? It did, however, provide an opportunity for me to reflect on my experience and to untangle some of the thoughts that were beginning to form in me. It also challenged me further, tugging at the view I held of the world until I thought it would snap, encouraging me and daring me to think, to see the bigger picture. And once your thoughts are free to fly, there is no going back. That is, in my view, Kimmage’s greatest strength. It teaches people to think for themselves. To question the world, to question ourselves and then as Rilke might say ‘to live these questions’. This is certainly what Kimmage taught me. It was an experience of the mind but done gently and knowledgeably.
I continue to search for some understanding of the world that will satisfy me, with each experience drawing forth the next. My current work is in Cosmology and Spirituality, cosmology being the study of the origin and development of the Universe. My specific focus is how this information from science relates to the human. It is not a million miles away from development in that both are concerned with how to make the world more equitable, how to make people more engaged. 21,000 people die from hunger every day. 21,000. Every day. Why does this statistic not dominate the headlines? Why do we live in a worldview where this is not central? These are the questions that Kimmage evoked. Big questions. Questions that won’t go away.
Niamh Brennan is author of ‘The human in the Universe‘, a book that draws on philosophy, the major insights emerging from cosmology and personal reflection to postulate a more relational, compassionate and sustainable vision of humanity for the future.