The Scottish Parliament's think-tank

Spring 2022 Update

Dandelions, Scottish Parliament and blue sky

As the Scottish Parliament reflects upon a year since the most recent Scottish elections, this update from Scotland’s Futures Forum covers the work we have been doing within the Parliament, as well as looking forward to what’s ahead.

As the Parliament’s think-tank, the challenges and opportunities facing democracy have been a central theme for us. Education also continues to be a key issue, and there is a chance to join a debate ahead of a key year for Scottish education. We also worked with the Parliament’s Gaelic team to publish a series of blogs in Gaelic, supporting a vision shared at our event in 2019.

Looking ahead, we are delighted to be the lead partner for the Parliament’s Festival of Politics, which this year takes place in August. Get the dates – 11 to 13 August – in your diary now.

There is also a chance to give us your views on the issues we should be looking at over the coming years.

Read on for all in the details. As ever, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on ScotlandsFuturesForum@parliament.scot.


Democracy – opportunities and challenges

Over the past year, as the Scottish Parliament has got up and running after the May 2022 elections, we have been exploring the challenges faced by democracy, as well as the opportunities to improve how decisions are made in Scotland.

Following previous events on the developing role of citizens assemblies, we supported an event during COP26 on the implications for Parliaments from the Climate and Ecological Emergencies. We also hosted an online discussion with Sophie Howe, the Welsh Future Generations Commissioner, on how we can govern better now for future generations.

You can read event reports on our website. We will bring together the lessons from these events and others in a report in the summer.


Education Futures – join the debate!

Tuesday 7 June 2022, 6pm to 8pm, at the Scottish Parliament and online

Next month, we will host a forum debate at the Parliament with the Goodison Group in Scotland on building a compelling vision for the future of Scottish education.

The session will include an expert panel featuring Professor Ken Muir, author of the recent report “Putting Learners at the Centre”, and a chance to share your views on the key issues for the future. The session will cover the contribution that the Goodison Group and Futures Forum could make to any national conversation on Scottish education.

The event is open to all, with both in-person and online registration available. Invitations are organised by our partners in the Goodison Group in Scotland – contact us to be added to the list.

Committee seminars

The forum will build on two seminars with the Education, Children and Young People Committee on how changes in society, technology and our environment will affect education.

We looked at both where decisions should be taken in the education system and the future learning experience in schools.

Also held in conjunction with the Goodison Group in Scotland, the seminars featured contributions from a range of experts, covering several perspectives. Views were shared under the Chatham House rule, with written reports available on our website.


Seachdain na Gàidhlig 2022

To mark Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week), the Futures Forum asked several Gaelic speakers to share their views of the future.

The project, run with support from the Scottish Parliament’s Gaelic Officers, aimed to contribute to a vision shared at a Futures Forum event on the future of Gaelic in 2019: a Scotland where “Gaelic is visible and audible in public life, with Gaelic routinely used for non-Gaelic issues”.

From reflections on literature, art and community, to a darkly comic vision of the future, the blogs cover a wide range of topics.

We published the blogs initially in Gaelic, and they are now available in English too.


Festival of Politics – 11 to 13 August 2022

We’re again delighted to be lead partner on the Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics.

The Festival, which takes place from Thursday 11 August to Saturday 13 August, will return with in-person events for the first time in three years, as well as some online options too.

The programme will be announced in the coming weeks, and you can register for updates on the Festival website. In the meantime, you can find recordings of all the events from 2021 on this YouTube playlist.


Work programme – let us know your views

Please note that this survey is now closed.

After a couple of years in which looking to the end of the week could sometimes be too difficult, we’re happy to be planning our work with a bit more certainty. As we do that, we want to hear what topics you think we should be looking at.

You can use our very short survey to let us know your thoughts – either below or by following the link. All responses are anonymous and will be considered by our board it agrees our focus for the coming years.

Create your own user feedback survey

Board changes

Finally, we have a couple of changes in our board of directors to share.

Louise Macdonald has stepped down from the board as she starts her new role as Director General Economy in the Scottish Government. Louise had been on the board for almost 10 years, having first becoming involved with the Futures Forum as part of our work on drugs and alcohol in 2008-2009.

During her time with us, Louise was a committed and enthusiastic director, providing excellent leadership for the board, and encouragement and support for officials.

While we are sad to say goodbye to Louise, we’re very excited to welcome Kirsten Hogg to our board. Kirsten is head of Policy, Research and Campaigns at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. With academic and professional expertise in supporting different groups to get involved in decision making, Kirsten will help us broaden our reach and bring as many different voices to the table as possible.

Our directors come from within and outwith the Parliament, and they are responsible for the leadership and strategic direction of Scotland’s Futures Forum.


Our mailing list…

At Scotland’s Futures Forum, we run a mailing list for those interested in our work.

We only keep your name and email address, and we use the mailing list to send messages about upcoming events and other work that may be of interest. We send a couple of emails a month at most. We ask only for your name and email address, and we never share your information with anyone else.

However, if you change your mind, there is an option to unsubscribe on every message.