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Panel Discussion: DIAS and DeValera

DIAS was established on 19th June 1940 by then Taoiseach Éamon de Valera under the Institute for Advanced Studies Act, 1940 in Dublin.

To mark 80 years since our foundation, we hosted an online panel discussion which delved into the history of de Valera and DIAS, investigated the motivations that lead to his decision to establish such an institute at that time, and the long-lasting impacts of this decision.

The founding of the Institute was somewhat controversial, since at the time only a minority of the population were successfully completing primary education, and university education was reserved for the privileged.

However, de Valera was aware of the great symbolic importance such a body would have on the international stage for Ireland..

DIAS remains a powerful symbol of the value attached by Ireland to research and scholarship, a symbolism reinforced by historical associations with the sanctuary offered to the Nobel Prize winner Erwin Schrödinger who became first Director of the School of Theoretical Physics.

The panel discussion explores the history of and motivations for establishing such an institute in the young state.

The Panel

This online event was moderated by RTE journalist and historian David McCullagh.

Sitting on the panel were:

  • Mary Daly, Emeritus Professor of History at UCD.
  • Neasa McGarrigle, Science Editor at Headstuff and historian of science, writing her PhD on DIAS and Erwin Schrödinger at Trinity College Dublin.
  •  James Lawless TD, Fianna Fail Science and Technology spokesperson.
  • Professor Luke Drury, Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics at DIAS

You can listen back to this event here: