Published date

May 2020

RSE Post-COVID-19 Futures Commission

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (the RSE) has announced a new initiative aimed at supporting the future of Scotland beyond the coronavirus crisis, with the setting up of the Post-COVID-19 Futures Commission to support Scotland in emerging as positively as it can from the current pandemic. Bringing together leading practitioners and thinkers from across society, the Commission will 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.

Further information and updates will be added here when available.


Professor Dame Anne Glover, FRSE (Chair) — President, Royal Society of Edinburgh

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 Edinburgh, Aberdeen & East Dunbartonshire Council

Professor Sir Harry Burns, FRSE — Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde and former Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government

Jim Fairbairn, 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 RSE Young Academy of Scotland

Louise Macdonald — 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

Dame Seona Reid, FRSE — Chair, National Theatre of Scotland

Dr Rebekah Widdowfield — Chief Executive, Royal Society of Edinburgh

Talat Yaqoob, FRSE — Director, Equate Scotland


It is anticipated that the Commission will run from May 2020 to Spring 2021.

Why have an RSE Post-COVID-19 Futures Commission?

The coronavirus pandemic has wide-ranging and far-reaching implications, well beyond the impact of the disease itself, that will significantly affect society for a considerable time to come. It is probably the most challenging time many of us have ever experienced. Individuals, organisations, and communities are dealing with huge amounts of disruption, uncertainty, anxiety and loss.

How we emerge from the pandemic in Scotland is just as important as the short-term handling of it. This is our chance to think about the kind of society we wish to be, to imagine a better future and build a more resilient and fairer society.


What does the RSE hope to achieve with this Commission?

As Scotland’s National Academy, the RSE is uniquely placed to bring together a breadth of independent expertise in the form of a Commission with leading thinkers and practitioners from across academia, business, public service and the creative arts.

It hopes to identify and help address some of the immediate policy implications and challenges arising from COVID 19, as well as to lead and support Scotland’s post-COVID ‘recovery’.


Who is on the Post COVID-19 Futures Commission?

Members of the Commission bring a diverse range of experience and work with a breadth of groups across society. With the exception of the RSE CEO, they are offering up their time on a voluntary basis and in an individual capacity and not representing any particular organisation.


How will the Commission work?

The Commission will hold its first meeting (virtually) in May. Its priority task will be to identify the key issues and questions that need to be explored. It is envisaged that a number of multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral working groups will be established focused on specific issues or themes to enable RSE to draw in a wider set of views and voices in relation to particular areas of focus and working with other organisations as appropriate.

The Commission will be informed by a wide range of discussions with stakeholders and networks and use its convening power to stay connected with other organisations working in this post-COVID space and harness opportunities for collaboration and partnership.


How will the Commission engage with relevant individuals and communities?

As the pandemic, and the response to it, has impacted differentially on different communities, a key consideration across the work programme will be considering how these impacts play out across society, including amongst different groups as well as geographically.

In scoping out and taking forward work, particular attention will be paid to providing opportunities for members of the public to be engaged – both to feed in their views about the kind of future they wish to see as well as in ensuring RSE’s work is informed by lived experience of those most directly affected by COVID-related changes and consequences.


If you have a question or comment to make at the moment, then please email: [email protected]