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Arts and Humanities research is vital but undervalued in Scotland

 As Scotland begins the process of forging a new society in the wake of the Independence Referendum, a group of researchers, academics and creative practitioners from across the country have come together to make the case that greater value should be put on the arts and humanities.

On 8 October the RSE Young Academy of Scotland held a special event at the Scottish Parliament to debate these issues. It was kindly hosted by Clare Adamson MSP and addressed by Mike Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning. In their opening remarks these two politicians were very supportive in the aims of this event looking to promote Arts and Humanities research and practice.    

Prof Rob Dunbar, Pauline McLean (BBC), Dr Fiona Watson and Prof Christopher Whatley were also on the expert panel. They all spoke eloquently about how they viewed the Arts and Huamnities and its place within society. 

The event also showcased projects that show how research and innovation in the arts and humanities can benefit society.  These included:

  •          The Foundry – creating culture out of Glasgow’s industrial past
  •          Technophonia – innovation in music and technology in Edinburgh
  •          Prison projects – bringing arts and culture to Scottish prisons
  •          Coastal heritage at risk – from Wemyss caves in Fife to Sanday in Orkney
  •          New Speakers of Gaelic – emerging from urban Scotland and abroad.


“Both sides in the Independence Referendum campaign talked about creating a better and fairer society in Scotland. Culture, heritage and creativity can help sustain relationships, foster ideas of identity and develop strong and resilient communities.  Research and funding in this area is vital for addressing social inequality and exclusion, poor health, educational disadvantage, environmental change and economic hardship.  We want to see the arts and humanities valued more in Scotland”

It is hoped that this event will be the springboard for further discussions in this area. Many questions were raised in the discussions at this event and the Arts and Humanities working group will be working on trying to tackle these questions in the coming year. 

Please see the brochure that accompanied the event here: