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

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
38 Gary Kerr Young Academy of Scotland
37 Marion Slater NHS Grampian
36 Mia Burleigh University of the West of Scotland
35 Daniel Montondo
34 John O'Connor Blackfriars, University of Oxford
33 Caroline Muellenbroich University of Glasgow
32 Ana Paula Fonseca Edinburgh Napier University
31 Samantha Pitt University of St Andrews
30 Murray Ferguson Cairngorms National Park Authority
29 Beth Cross University of the West of Scotland
28 Andy Gardner University of St Andrews
27 Anne Glover University of Strathclyde
26 Ourania Varsou University of Glasgow
25 Eamon Keane The University of Edinburgh
24 Henry Lovat University of Glasgow
23 Fiona Henriquez University of the West of Scotland

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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47 signatures = 5% of goal

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