In partnership with Dr. Rob Grant, the What Does He Need? project ran a series of philosophical conversations with men to explore the concept of masculinity in an open, non-judgemental, curious and critical manner.


These male-only conversations are facilitated by Dr. Rob Grant. The intention is not to lecture, teach, correct anyone’s views or change anyone’s behaviour. Instead, participants are invited to articulate their ideas and have their voices heard, while creating an atmosphere where ideas can be challenged and questioned, free from ridicule or personal offence. Our aim is to reflect on fundamental ideas in order to expose the assumptions that lay behind individuals’ beliefs and values. We want to create a space to reflect on how we come to believe what we believe, and in so doing, reveal the lens through which we see the world. While this can be disconcerting and confusing, we aim to embrace uncertainty and doubt, rather than retreating into over-simplified beliefs. This practice draws on the rich tradition of philosophical dialogue which goes back over two thousand years to Socrates, who conducted his philosophical investigations in the Agora (public square) of Athens through conversation and dialogue with citizens.


The purpose of these conversations is to invite men to explore the concept of masculinity and associated themes including power, domination, violence, care and vulnerability.


In a partnership with The LAB gallery, these philosophical conversations began in November 2020 with a focus on male community leaders in Dublin city. Four groups from different parts of the city participated online in weekly conversation. It is the intention of the project partners to grow this strand of the project to engage groups of boys, young men and adult men in philosophical conversations about masculinity.

For further insights on the pilot phase of this work, read ‘Men and Masculinity: A Philosophical Dialogue Approach’ by Rob Grant, published in Concept – The Journal of Contemporary Community Education Practice Theory, Vol. 14, No.3, Winter 2023.


This strand of the What Does He Need? project is a partnership between Rialto Youth Project, Fiona Whelan and Dr. Rob Grant. Rob did his PhD in philosophy in Trinity College Dublin, where he has also taught, as well as lecturing in Philosophy of Education in UCD. Rob is an experienced and skilled facilitator, founder member of Philosophy Ireland – a group set up to promote philosophy in schools and the community, and co founder (with Sen. Lynn Ruane and John Bissett) of the Philosophy in the Community Project. The first phase of What Does He Need? philosophical conversations with community leaders in November 2020, was supported through a partnership with The LAB gallery.

Drawing by Fiona Whelan