Basic Income, under various monikers, has attracted a growing level of global attention in recent years. At times referred to as Universal Basic Income or Citizen’s Basic Income, it represents an innovative approach to many pressing issues in contemporary society. In September 2017, the Scottish Government committed £250,000 to allow four local authorities to explore the feasibility of Basic Income pilots. In theory, a Basic Income would replace many current benefits and tax allowances with an unconditional, non-withdrawable payment to each citizen. This foundational income would not be means tested, allowing all to rely on a stable, partial income.
I recently attended a conference organised by ‘What Works Wellbeing’, which looked at the emerging evidence of what promotes wellbeing and quality of life for individuals and society more generally. The conference was organised around the themes of the What Works programme – work and learning, culture and sport, communities and cross cutting methods.
The idea behind a wellbeing focus is that it goes beyond narrow measures of economic output. Scotland’s National Performance Framework illustrated below is an excellent example of just such an approach.
Individual Freedom and the Common Good
In a recent fascinating article in the New York Times Colin Woodard summarises his analysis of how politics in America today is shaped by the values of the different groups that settled the country; from the Puritan communitarian legacy of the north east ‘Yankeedom’ to the personal sovereignty of ‘Greater Appalachia’. He identifies eleven different ‘nations’ or regions in the US that cross state boundaries and which, in his view, provide a much better guide to today’s political divisions that ‘north-south’ or ‘urban-rural’. At its heart he sees a tension between advancing and protecting individual liberty and promoting the common good.
“The future is collaborative” – Jackie Kay (Scots Makar)
Focusing on the theme of Cooperation and Interdependence, our second call for proposals of 2018 seeks to explore the challenges and opportunities presented by ever increasing interconnectedness. The call is now live, and further details can be found on the SUII website here.
Throughout September we’ll be running a series of informative workshops at our member institutions.
Capitalism in the age of robots
In April this year Adair Turner (Chair of the Institute for New Economic Thinking) gave a speech entitled “Capitalism in the age of robots: work, income and wealth in the 21st century.” In it Turner argued that the rapid and unstoppable development of automation—based on robotics, artificial intelligence and machine learning—will have profound implications for how we live and work over the next fifty to a hundred years.
New Programmes – 2018, Round 1
Following an impressive response to our most recent Call for Proposals, we are delighted to announce five new Knowledge Exchange programmes. These programmes include experts from across the disciplinary spectrum; from the fields of design innovation, digital art and technology, primary care research, visual literacy, trauma and memory studies, heath psychology, engineering, environment and climate change, social policy, social business, education, and sociology.
Focusing on early adolescence, a critical stage in development, this programme looks to examine the relationship between poverty, attainment, and children’s mental health as a means of addressing the attainment gap between rich and poor. The attainment gap is a global and complex problem, which requires international and multi-disciplinary perspectives. It will bring together academics, policy makers, and practitioners to question: what we currently know about the problem, how we can best extend our understanding of these relationships, and how this can inform public policy and practice. A sense of belonging to school lies at the intersection of poverty, attainment, and mental health. Through engagement with children the programme will build children’s voices into discussion, ultimately contributing to the Scottish Attainment Challenge.
Dr Joan Mowat (University of Strathclyde) – Inclusion, Children with Social, Emotional, and Behavioural Needs, Leadership for Social Justice
Dr Gale Macleod (University of Edinburgh) – Education, Young People Identified as having Disruptive Behaviour
Alastair Wilson (University of Strathclyde) – Social Mobility, Mentoring, Widening Participation
Dr Anna Beck (University of Strathclyde) – Educational Policy, Teacher Professionalism
Graham McPheat (University of Strathclyde) – Social Work and Looked After Children
Professor Stephen McKinney (University of Glasgow) – Creativity, Culture, Poverty
Dr Louise Marryat (University of Edinburgh) – Mental Health, Public Health and Policy
Lee Knifton (University of Strathclyde) – Head of the Mental Health Foundation
Marian MacLeod (Children in Scotland) – Policy Manager, Children’s Welfare
Patricia Lyon (Place2Be) – Cluster Manager, Counselling for Children
Paula Dudgeon (Glasgow City Council) – Educational Psychology
Professor John McKendrick (Glasgow Caledonian University) – Applied Human Sociology, Poverty and Inequality
Fiona McHardy (The Poverty Alliance) – Research and Information Manager
Aileen Wilson (Inverclyde Children’s Services) – Children’s Rights and Participation
Dr Gillean McCluskey (University of Edinburgh) – Multi-agency working, Pupil Voice
Sara Spencer (Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland) – Project Manager
The significance of employment to desistance—the cessation of offending or antisocial behaviour—is well established, yet there are multifarious obstacles to people with convictions accessing and sustaining work. Social enterprise and cooperative structures of employment can circumnavigate some of the systemic obstacles, such as criminal records and employer discrimination. But such structures are a rarity in the UK justice system, and their potential is largely unexplored. Bringing together international, multi-disciplinary academic and industry leaders, this programme seeks to inform the development of social enterprise and cooperative structures of employment for people involved in the justice system. It will bring together research, policy, and practice, which have heretofore developed separately, to forge and deepen links to form a sustainable network to address these challenges.
Dr Beth Weaver (University of Strathclyde) – Desistance, Co-production, Social Cooperative and Enterprise Structures of Employment
Professor Stephen Osborne (University of Edinburgh) – Chair of International Public Management, Co-production, the Third Sector and Public Services
Dr Michael Roy (Glasgow Caledonian University) – Social Business, Social Enterprise, Health and Wellbeing
Sarah Soppitt (Northumbria University) – Criminology, Criminal Justice Practice, Desistance
Elizabeth Docherty (Glasgow Social Enterprise Network) – Director
Paul Morris (Glasgow City Council) – Development Officer and Operations Manager for Glasgow Region City Deal Employability Project
Thomas Jackson (Community Justice, Glasgow) – Head of Community Justice, Glasgow
Jayne Chappell (Social Firms Scotland) – Finance and Development Manager
This timely and necessary programme brings together climate change adaptation specialists from across the natural and social sciences. It identifies two central challenges for increasing resilience to extreme events: to make complex research results more accessible and tractable for decision-makers, and to acknowledge that decision-makers include the general public as they self-organise and respond to new local challenges, in parallel with policy and practice. To address these challenges, it proposes a novel approach: storytelling for climate change adaptation. Using state-of-the-art storytelling training, it will bring a fresh set of communication and engagement skills to climate change researchers and practitioners. These skills will be applied by the wider community of climate change professionals, enhancing knowledge exchange activities. It aims to demonstrate the efficacy of storytelling in bringing about real-world impact, through application to a specific case study with a flood-prone community.
Melissa Bedinger (Heriot-Watt University) – Ergonomics, Socio-technical Systems and Climate Change
Esther Carmen (University of Dundee) – Science Policy and Practice Interfaces, Community Resilience
Professor Lindsay Beevers (Heriot-Watt University) – Civil Engineering and Water Management
Ioan Fazey (University of Dundee) – Environmental Change and Human Resilience
Alanah Knibb (Freelance Illustrator) – Art, Graphic Novels and Comics, Science Communication
Julia Bentz (University of Lisbon) – Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation, and Economics
Ingrid Coninx (Wageningen University) – Climate Adaptation and Policy Implementation Gaps
This programme will explore the impact of bereavement on young people, supporting them to construct and represent their own stories through the medium of comics. More than 75% of young people experience the death of someone close, with the figure even higher for vulnerable children. Given the impacts of bereavement on wellbeing, including psychological health and educational achievement, this is a crucial issue. While recent Scottish policy emphasises developing discourse and support, a culture of silence around bereavement remains. Comics are an ideal medium for storytelling, with the combination of image and text providing an accessible creative space for expression. The process of creating comics helps generate confident life stories, which will be used to support professionals and carers, inform national policy on childhood bereavement, and normalise discussions of bereavement more generally.
Dr Golnar Nabizadeh (University of Dundee) – Comics and Visual Literacy
Dr Susan Rasmussen (University of Strathclyde) – Health Psychology
Professor Christopher Murray (University of Dundee) – Comic Studies
Professor Divya Jindal-Snape (University of Dundee) – Chair of Education, Inclusion and Life Transitions
Dr Damon Herd (Dundee Comics Creative Space) – Autobiographical Comics and Comics Performance
Philip Vaughn (Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design) – Practice and Production in Animation
Dr Sally Paul (University of Strathclyde) – Public Health, Death, Dying and Bereavement
Judith Furnival (CELCIS) – Residential Childcare, Suicide and Care Leavers
Nina Vaswani (CYCJ) – Youth Justice, Bereavement and Loss