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.

Membership


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

Timing


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

Values Statement


We welcome the opportunity to contribute to Scotland’s recovery and renewal as part of the RSE’s post-Covid Futures Commission. How we emerge from Covid-19 is just as important as the short-term handling of it. This is our chance to imagine a better future and build a more resilient and fairer society.

The pandemic is probably the most challenging time many of us have ever experienced. Individuals, families, organisations and communities are dealing with huge amounts of disruption, uncertainty, anxiety and loss. And we know that the effects of Covid-19 will significantly affect our society and economy for a considerable time to come. At the same time, the crisis has opened the door to new ways of doing things and shone a spotlight on longstanding challenges such as poverty and inequality.

We want to use our collective diverse experience, expertise and networks to help address some of the immediate challenges arising from Covid-19 and consider some of the bigger questions the pandemic, and response to it, raises to support a better future. We are acutely aware that this is not something that will be done by a group of 15 people sitting in a room. It requires discussion, dialogue and debate. We see our primary role as a Commission in helping facilitate that debate, providing a platform to raise and discuss key issues informed by evidence, expertise and experience.

In taking forward our work we will be guided by the following key principles:

  • A focus on inequalities: while Covid-19 has affected everyone in some way, we cannot and must not mask the reality that its impacts have fallen unequally across society, often serving to highlight, reinforce and amplify existing inequalities. We will make sure that illuminating, and identifying ways to address, inequalities and build a fairer society is at the core of our work.
  • Meaningful participation and engagement: we want dialogue and debate to be at the heart of the Commission’s approach. As Commission members, we recognise the privileged position we are in and the ability that gives us to get our voices heard. We are very aware that this is not the case for everyone. We will work closely with partners who are already engaged first-hand with those most affected by Covid-19 to ensure our work is grounded in the reality of lived experience and helps give greater voice to those who are often furthest away from power and opportunity.
  • Collaborative working: we know there are a large and growing number of groups and reviews being established to consider Covid-19 and its various consequences. We will be outward looking, actively exploring opportunities for engagement and collaboration, while being thoughtful about how and where we can best add value.
  • Making a difference: we want our work to have impact, to help shape thinking, policy and practice. We will keep a constant focus on who our work is for and what are we trying to achieve and use that focus to shape our work programme and approach.
  • Multiple perspectives: as Commission members we bring a range of expertise, from across academia, business, public service and the creative arts. We see this as a key strength enabling us to look at issues from different angles and perspectives. We will take advantage of RSE’s strong convening power to bring together a breadth of expertise, experience and different forms of knowledge and understanding to take an holistic approach to our inquiries and considerations.
  • Independent thinking: we value the privilege we have of independent thinking and speaking. Like RSE itself, we do not represent or lobby for any particular interests making us well placed to challenge assumptions and prompt and provoke fresh and radical thinking. We will use our independence of thought, underpinned by evidence and expertise, to inform, debate, challenge and offer insights to support learning from the Covid-19 pandemic and recovery.

As a Commission, we share – both individually and collectively – the RSE’s commitment to knowledge made useful and the deployment of learning for public benefit. We look forward to delivering on that goal through our work to support Scotland’s post-Covid-19 recovery and the development of a fairer and more resilient society.

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]