Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance

The Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance (SAHA) is a joint initiative of ten Scottish Higher Education institutions, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities. It was established to give a public and collective voice to the Arts and Humanities in the context of Higher Education and will also make connections as appropriate with work at a UK level to promote the value of SHAPE (social sciences, humanities and the arts for people, the economy and the environment).

This new Alliance is designed to promote more widely the contribution of our disciplines to positive change in society, to economic progress and to cultural understanding.

We envisage a reflective alliance that sets agendas and responds to current concerns; we see it as an interdisciplinary and capability-building organisation that will launch new initiatives and engage with policy makers and the general public openly and collaboratively, via an active and inclusive work programme.



The Alliance has the following remit:

  • To be a united, public voice on matters relating to the arts and humanities in Scotland;
  • To advocate for the arts and humanities, enhancing understanding of their intellectual, creative, and social as well as economic, contribution to the wellbeing and advancement of Scottish society;
  • To influence government policy on current higher educational issues relating to the arts and humanities, giving a Scottish perspective, but also speaking to wider debates;
  • To create, foster and enhance links and partnerships between scholars and local communities and communities of practice;
  • To disseminate its work in the media, in government and within the education sector.


The Alliance will seek to contribute to a wide range of areas through a variety of means (e.g. podcasts, blogs, short videos, advice papers). Initial areas for in-depth attention include:

  • Climate change;
  • Education policy;
  • Post-Covid-19 society.


  • All Scottish HEIs are invited to become members of the Alliance;
  • A Steering Committee comprising representatives from contributing organisations determines the strategic direction and activity of the Alliance.

Alliance Information

SAHA was established in 2019 to give a public and collective voice to the arts and humanities in the context of Higher Education.

Scotland has a rich arts and humanities heritage and an impressive history of arts and humanities education. We believe that the arts and humanities are a public good with a central role to play in meeting the challenges of contemporary society. They help individuals and society by shaping our cultural, political and inner lives, equipping us with the critical skills to engage with a changing social and geopolitical landscape, helping us to identify and learn from the patterns of the past and to imagine new ways forward. The arts and humanities are, therefore, a necessary part of 21st-century debates on issues such as climate change, wellbeing, diversity and shaping a post-Covid-19 future. SAHA is uniquely positioned to give voice to the value and diversity of Arts and Humanities education in Scotland and to foster further collaboration across and beyond institutions in order to provide a coherent perspective on the challenges facing Scottish society. SAHA can also help to promote the value of SHAPE (social sciences, humanities and the arts for people, the economy and the environment), within a broader UK context.

The Alliance aims to enhance public and governmental understanding of the intellectual, creative and social, as well as economic, contribution of the arts and humanities to the well-being and advancement of Scottish society. It provides a forum for debating and collaborating on current and future challenges, for united attempts to influence government education policy, and for public advocacy and celebration of the arts and humanities in a specifically Scottish context. It engages with stakeholders within the educational, cultural and civil sectors and delivers a coordinated arts and humanities standpoint on issues relating to education and research in Scotland and beyond.

Co-Chairs of the Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance

Professor Murray Pittock – University of Glasgow

Professor Catherine O’Leary – University of St Andrews


SAHA Policy and Communications Officer

Dr Cristina Clopot


Steering Committee


Royal Society of Edinburgh

Dr Rebekah Widdowfield

Chief Executive


University of Aberdeen

Professor Michael Brown


University of Edinburgh

Dr Ben Fletcher-Watson


University of Glasgow

Professor Dauvit Broun


Heriot-Watt University

Professor Ullrich Kockel


University of the Highlands and Islands

An t-Oll Brian Boag


Queen Margaret University

Professor David Stevenson


Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Professor Stephen Broad


Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities

Professor Claire Squires


University of St Andrews

Professor Catherine O’Leary


University of Stirling

Professor Adrian Hadland


University of Strathclyde

Professor Tanja Bueltmann

For further information about the work of the Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance, please contact Dr Cristina Clopot.

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Alliance Activity

Dr Timothy Riding (primarily based at the University of York) will join The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh, as a Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance (SAHA) Postdoctoral Fellow in November 2021. Dr Riding’s project will contribute to the institute’s project on decolonising education. It will aim to inform and improve teaching on colonialism in the Scottish secondary education curriculum, in particular the presentation of the Darien colonial scheme of the late 1690s.
More information on the project to follow when Dr Riding is in post, his profile is available here:

The aim of the Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance is to highlight the creative, social and economic value of arts and humanities as we tackle the challenges of our times. Innovative and imaginative solutions to real-world challenges will necessarily involve the input of arts and humanities scholars and practitioners. In the SAHA Launch Webinar Programme, November-December 2020, three areas were chosen in which to underline our contribution to discussions of current social importance.

The first webinar, on Monday 30 November 2020, was on the the Arts and Humanities and Covid-19. Chaired by Dame Seona Reid DBE FRSE, it features contributions by Dr Katherine Champion, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Stirling; Samuel K. Cohn Jr, Professor of Medieval History at the University of Glasgow, fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and honorary fellow of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh; Dr Azadeh Emadi, a researcher and video maker at the University of Glasgow; Caron Gentry, Professor in the School of International Relations at St Andrews; Nicolas Le Bigre, Teaching Fellow and archivist at the University of Aberdeen’s Elphinstone Institute; and Katey Warran an AHRC-funded PhD student at the University of Edinburgh.

The second webinar, on Monday 7 December 2020, was a discussion of The Arts and Humanities and the Environment. Professor Claire Squires, Director of the Scottish Graduate School of the Arts and Humanities (SGSAH), chaired the session and the contributors are John Burnside, writer and professor of Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews; Dr Dominic Hinde, Lecturer in Digital Media and Communications, Queen Margaret University; Hannah Imlach, SGSAH PhD Researcher in collaboration with RSPB Loch Lomond at the University of Edinburgh and Prof. Máiréad Nic Craith, Chair of Cultural Heritage & Anthropological Studies, Heriot-Watt University.

The third webinar, on Monday 14 December 2020, focused on the Arts and Humanities and Education Policy. The Chairperson, Professor David Stevenson, Queen Margaret University, discusses the arts and humanities perspective with Dr Gemma Robinson, Senior Lecturer in English Studies, University of Stirling; Dr Robert Munro, Lecturer in film and media at QMU; Dauvit Boun, Professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow and Tawona Sithole, artist in residence and research associate in the School of Education at the University of Glasgow.