Our strategic plan defines Sustainable as: “empower communities & enable access to expertise.' Our work around this theme is very diverse, as we aim to contribute to Scotland’s ecological, environmental, cultural, and economic sustainability.  Many of our  “sustainable” projects” facilitate communications between academics, professionals, and local communities to encourage positive relationships and meaningful collaborations.

To explore some of our Sustainable  work, see below:

Sustainability Dinner

Our first RSE Fellows and Young Academy membership event, this networking dinner was aimed at stimulating discussion and future work encompassing this strategic theme.

YAS challenged five speakers to present on the topic of Sustainabillity in pecha-kucha style format.

Feedback for this event was overwhelmingly positive, and it is hoped that it will result in new project proposals encompassing this strategic theme.

A full report of this event may be found here.

Addressing Hate & Violence

A workshop event took place on 8th July 2013, bringing together over 50 stakeholders comprising community activists, representatives from Police Scotland, central and local government, academia as well as members of faith, gender, sexual orientation and race groups.  Co-coordinated by YAS members Asif Ishaq and Jeffrey Murer, the event has a particular focus on societal wellbeing.  Delegates discussed their experience of the challenges facing Scotland’s diverse communities and explored possible approaches to build stronger communities. You can read a full report from the session here.

The Scottish Approach to Community

On the 2nd March, 2015, YAS hosted a workshop at the Royal Scots Club whichbrought together representatives of the Muslim Council of Scotland, the Church of Scotland, Police Scotland including the Scottish Muslim Police Association, Scottish Government, the Young Academy of Scotland, and a number of local NGOs and researchers from the Universities of St Andrews, Strathclyde, and Glasgow Caledonian.  22 people participated in the day-long event which focused on community engagement, cross-community tensions, and hate crime in Scotland.

Much of the discussion reflected on perceptions of radicalization, especially in light of the attacks in Paris on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. This led to further discussions on the politicization of speech, including questions as to whom has free speech and what are the responsibilities of the press in reporting conflict.

A member of the Muslim Council of Scotland said: “Imams are afraid of speaking out because they don’t want their words to be picked up and used in narratives out of context.  But then they are accused of not speaking out.  We need to address questions of care not to destroy someone’s language, otherwise we end up with no speech.”

A representative a Muslim youth organization from Glasgow further added on the topic of radicalization: “Young people feel really uncomfortable with the word “moderate”.  Many prefer more emotional and energized voices.  Many feel apologetic about being Muslim, rather than seeing this as a strength.  This is the current problem in the Muslim community: how to turn cultural tradition into pride rather than humility.  But the worry of “radicalization” makes that very difficult.

A representative of a different local NGO stated that a recent survey in the UK suggested that nearly 60% of British people believe that Islam is incompatible with values of the West.  She asked, “how are we supposed to be members of the community, how are we supposed to contribute, when we are seen as not fitting in before we do anything at all?”  This raised further questions as to how the police and Scottish Government interact with the various Muslim communities in Scotland to reinforce their belonging.

The workshop had both sessions of all participants and break-out sessions in which it was possible to have more engaged and intimate conversations.  These sessions raised questions as to the role of the media in both improving community relations and being held to account when they sensationalize stories and inflame community tensions. 

The workshop closed with a discussion of where to go in the future.  It was noted that members of the business community and the private sector should be invited to future events.  There was a focus on how does the police address these concerns if there is little diversity of understanding of the Muslim experience in Scotland.  While the meeting and the participants were upbeat, a concern permeated the workshop.  It appears that Scotland is more inviting to Muslims than England, as expressed by many of the participants; nevertheless, there was worry that things could easily turn worse.  Scotland still needs to work very hard to incorporate all of its communities into a rich and varied whole.  This was the desire of all of the workshop participants.


Our Members

I am a palaeontologist and geologist on the faculty of the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh. I study the anatomy, genealogy, and evolution of dinosaurs and other extinct animals, with the aim of understanding how evolution works over long time scales and how the earth changes over time. I am also a keen communicator of science: I have written several books for kids and adults, appear often on television and radio, and consult regularly with the press.

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