Enabling a respectful and inclusive societal exchange.

Grand Challenges

We strive to facilitate open and inclusive exchange of ideas and perspectives among individuals and diverse groups to encourage dialogue, foster understanding, and support informed decision-making. We aim to promote respectful, balanced discourse throughout Scotland and internationally.

YAS created a charter of nine general principles for responsible public debate. They are based on our belief that joint decision-making should be informed, respectful and inclusive.

We hope that these principles will kick-start some wider conversations about how we can listen well to each other, even when we disagree, and how we can work together to find common ground and a sense of shared purpose. This is key to improving the culture of debate in all areas of our lives: in person and on social media, locally, nationally and internationally.

Visit our Responsible Debate page to read and sign the charter, and to learn more about our ongoing public engagement efforts around Responsible Debate.

This project aimed to open up new conversations about the future of Higher Education (HE) in Scotland and beyond. It fed into a wider YAS/RSE project on this topic.

One of YAS’s main goals is to amplify the voices of those who deliver Higher Education on a daily basis: the tutors, lecturers, researchers and technicians whose first-hand experience gives them unique insights into the opportunities and barriers ahead of us. We seek to provide a constructive, collaborative space for everyone to share ideas about their aspirations for the future of Scottish Higher Education.

To deliver this, we held 3 interactive debates on different aspects of higher education, and have produced some blogs reflecting on the outcomes of these debates.

The final output of the wider YAS/RSE project, the Tertiary Education Futures report, may be found here.

Research the Headlines is a blog that addresses the way in which research is discussed and represented in the media. Launched by YAS in 2013, each article takes a piece of research with recent media coverage and seeks to investigate and research this to give readers a better understanding from an expert and independent position. The group of members that delivers Research the Headlines have also held workshops for schools with an aim to equipping children with the tools and skills to evaluate the media independently and critically.

We run a pairing scheme which brings together Scotland’s policymakers and young leaders from YAS.

Launched in 2019, the scheme pairs MSPs with young leaders drawn from. Over the course of several meetings, the pairs learn about each other’s work and build bridges to work together on evidence-based policy in the future. Learn more about this project on our YAS-MSP Pairing scheme page.

During the height of the COVID-19 lockdowns, we invited children aged 8 – 14 to capture their vision for Scotland’s future digitally by using any technique and media (drawing, writing, collage, photography, etc). Judged by a panel of Young Academy members, some of the outstanding entries are presented in this online exhibition featuring the stimulating creativity and fantastic problem-solving minds of young people.

As part of the Scottish Parliament’s Scotland 2030 Programme, we collaborated with Scotland’s Futures Forum and Edinburgh Napier University to create Our Future Scotland. Our Future Scotland is a public engagement project, which aims to encourage national discussion and debate on four key societal themes: Education, Wellbeing, Environment, and Technology.

A major output of this project was a 15-minute documentary film, featuring well-know figures from Scottish Society discussing these four themes and their visions for the future of Scottish society. Interviewees for the documentary included First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, actor Brian Cox, author Christopher Brookmyre and wildlife photographer Peter Cairns.

COVID-19 has had profound impacts on all sectors of society, with further ripple effects to come in the medium and long term. Through a series of blogs, YAS members analysed how the pandemic has affected different people, places, professions and practices. From healthcare to democracy, refugee communities to research groups, we looked not only at the impact so far but also at what changes in behaviour and practice might result or be required. These blogs are forward-looking, presenting a series of recommendations which we hope policy-makers and practitioners will consider as we learn lessons from the pandemic and pull together across Scotland to build a healthier, more equal and sustainable future.