Royal Society sets up post-Covid group to look into future
Dame Anne Glover: ‘common good’ (pic: Terry Murden)
The Royal Society of Edinburgh has today announced a new initiative aimed at supporting the future of Scotland beyond the coronavirus crisis.
A Post-COVID-19 Futures Commission will bring together practitioners and thinkers from across society to help identify and address some of the immediate policy implications and challenges arising from the coronavirus outbreak and support thinking around some of the bigger questions it raises.
Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, chief executive of the RSE, said: “Whilst we are still in the eye of the storm and dealing with all that entails, it is crucial we start thinking about what happens next.
“The Commission is intended to both help address some of the more immediate challenges as well as promote discussions around some of the bigger questions that the pandemic – and our response to it – raises about the kind of society we wish to be. We are experiencing a rare but fundamental shift in the way society operates which can be a stimulus for longer-term change.
“In some ways, the questions we ask in the aftermath of COVID-19 could be more important than those we pose in the present. The upheaval brought on by a global crisis, while overwhelming, can also be an opportunity to learn important lessons and build a more resilient and fairer society informed by evidence, expertise, and public dialogue.”
The Commission will comprise individuals from across society, including the third sector, business, faith, media, culture, Government, public service, economy and enterprise, environment, health, and education. With the exception of the RSE President and CEO, participants have been invited in a personal capacity and do not formally represent the organisations they are linked with. Initial members are:
- Professor Dame Anne Glover, President, Royal Society of Edinburgh (Chair)
- Professor Sir Ian Boyd FRSE, Professor of Biology, University of St Andrews and former Chief Scientific Adviser, DEFRA
- Dame Sue Bruce FRSE, Electoral Commissioner, Scotland; former CEO City of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and East Dunbartonshire Councils
- Professor Sir Harry Burns FRSE, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde and former Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
- Jim Fairbairn OBE FRSE, Chief Executive, Megger Group
- Lesley Fraser, Director-General, Scottish Government
- Caroline Gardner FRSE, Auditor General for Scotland
- Peter McColl, Futures and Innovation Consultant and member Young Academy of Scotland
- Louise Macdonald OBE, Chief Executive, Young Scot
- Maureen McKenna, Executive Director of Education, Glasgow City Council
- Professor Nasar Meer FRSE, Professor of Race, Identity and Citizenship, University of Edinburgh
- Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli FRSE, Principal, University of Glasgow
- James Naughtie FRSE, journalist and broadcaster
- Professor Massimo Palmarini FRSE, Director of the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, University of Glasgow
- Dame Seona Reid FRSE, Chair, National Theatre of Scotland
- Dr Rebekah Widdowfield, Chief Executive, Royal Society of Edinburgh
- Talat Yaqoob FRSE, Director, Equate Scotland
The Commission will hold its first meeting in May (virtually) to agree its remit, approach and outputs.
Professor Dame Anne Glover, President of the RSE and Commission Chair concludes: “The RSE has as its mission ‘Knowledge made useful’ and I can’t think of a time when that is more important than right now.
“The Fellowship represents some of Scotland’s foremost experts and practitioners across a range of fields, sharing a common aim of freely lending their expertise to society for the common good.
“Our hope is that, via the Commission, we might both help address some of the immediate challenges facing society and use this crisis as an opportunity to think critically about the present structures of our society in order to build a better future.”