Charter for Responsible Debate

The Young Academy of Scotland proposes 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.

Will you join our growing movement? By signing up to the YAS Charter for Responsible Debate you will be pledging your commitment to trying out its principles in your day-to-day life. You will also be sending a signal to others involved in public debate, that you want them to uphold the values of the charter.

As you try them out in day-to-day life, we encourage you to adapt and refine the nine general principles to suit different settings and situations. Please let us know how you get on! Your feedback will be invaluable as we work to improve the culture of public debate together.


  1. Aim for accuracy, and base your contributions on evidence and experience.
  2. Talk to people with different beliefs, experiences, perspectives and backgrounds.
  3. Be honest in how you communicate, and speak with conviction for what you believe.


  1. Listen carefully, open-mindedly, and with empathy.
  2. Use emotional language judiciously, avoiding disrespectful or inflammatory language.
  3. Show appreciation for good points made by others, acknowledging when they change your mind.


  1. Communicate in ways that unite rather than divide.
  2. Try to address imbalances in power, knowledge and accessibility.
  3. Seek to identify common ground and shared purpose.

Recent signatures

63 Elizabeth Gadd University of Glasgow
62 Daniel Friedrich University of Edinburgh
61 Caroline Gauchotte-Lindsay University of Glasgow
60 Ed Hutchinson MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research
59 Katherine Duncan University of Strathclyde
58 Julie Cameron Mental Health Foundation
57 Fiona Kerr Edinburgh Napier University
56 Mirna Solic University of Glasgow
55 Michael Ridge
54 Michael Cholbi University of Edinburgh
53 Katharine Rogers UWE
52 Leanne McKenzie
51 Delma Childers University of Aberdeen
50 Leslie Mabon Scottish Association for Marine Science-University of the Highlands and Islands
49 Ben Macpherson MSP
48 Clare Taylor Edinburgh Napier University
47 Kathryn Elmer Univ. of Glasgow
46 Catherine Ashby Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
45 Ruth Bowness University of Bath
44 Aude Le Guennec Heriot-Watt University
43 Steven Ford University of Strathclyde
42 Lorna Robertson SCVO
41 Willie Rennie Scottish Liberal Democrats
40 Anas Sarwar MSP Scottish Labour Party
39 Ulrich Schmiedel University of Edinburgh

To affirm your commitment to the principles of this Charter, please use the form below.  Please note signatories’ name and affiliation will be displayed publicly in the list below.

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63 signatures = 6% of goal

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Let us know what you think

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