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.


  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.

In addition to the above Charter, we have also published a full report of this project, which includes reflective essays on the principles of public debate and a set of “boardroom, classroom and living room” exercises to help people try out the charter.

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.

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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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