The Scottish Parliament's think-tank

Summer 2022 Update

Festival of Politics website front page

This update from Scotland’s Futures Forum covers a festival, challenges for democracy and the key questions for Scotland’s national conversation on education.

Most immediately, as the lead partner for the Scottish Parliament’s Festival of Politics, we’re counting down the days until Thursday 11 August, when the three-day event kicks off. The programme includes free and paid-for events that aim to inspire and engage people across a range of topics both online and in-person.

One major theme in the Festival programme is the future of democracy in the face of populism, technological innovation and climate change. This been a central theme for us over the past year, and we have brought together all our work so far on our Democracy 2045 page.

This includes our report on how parliaments can respond to the climate and ecological emergencies and a write-up of our recent seminar on artificial intelligence and accountability, with more to follow.

And we’ve been very happy to continue our partnership with the Goodison Group in Scotland, with our recent event looking at the key issues for the upcoming national conversation on education.

Read on for all the details, as well as information on what we’ll be working on next.

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


Festival of Politics – Thursday 11 to Saturday 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.

Themes such as end of life choices, the state of the UK union, cost of living crisis, our climate, migration and equality will all feature. Alongside distinguished panel guests drawn from all walks of life across Scotland and beyond, sessions will allow festivalgoers to share their own experiences and ask questions. 

We are partnering on several specific events, with debates on disinformation as a tactic of war and peace and the use and control of data in our lives, as well as a special in-conversation event with A.C. Grayling, the renowned philosopher and writer.

The full programme is available on the Festival website. If you want to get in the mood, you can find recordings of all the events from 2021 on this YouTube playlist.


Democracy 2045: challenges and opportunities

Over the past year, we have been exploring the challenges faced by democracy, as well as the opportunities to improve how decisions are made in Scotland.

Working on the three themes of environment, technology and participation, we have explored how democracy is evolving and innovating, in particular around the involvement of citizens in the decision-making processes in Scotland.

We have also considered the major challenges posed by the climate and ecological emergencies and the technological tools we have available. In very different ways, the developments in both these areas will pose existential questions for our lives as individuals and our communities more broadly.

You can read about our work so far our Democracy 2045 page. This now includes a report on how Parliaments can respond to the code red for humanity signalled by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as a full write-up of a seminar with experts on the challenges posed by artificial intelligence. Listen to the presentations, view the slides and read the report.

We will also bring together the lessons from these events and others in a broader report later in the summer.


Stylised picture of roundtable discussion

Education Futures Forum

In June, we hosted 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 included an expert panel featuring Professor Ken Muir, author of the recent report “Putting Learners at the Centre”, and a wide range of perspectives on the future of education in Scotland.

You can read a summary of the views shared, along with ideas for making the national conversation on Scottish education a success, in the event report.


Work programme

With thanks to everyone who submitted ideas on our future work programme, we’re delighted to announce that our focus for the next few years will be tackling structural inequalities. We are still in the early days of exploring the issue and working out how we can contribute to the debate, but please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any interest in the topic.

As ever, we continue our work on the future of democracy as a key issue for the Scottish Parliament and all of us in Scotland.

We will also use our education forum with the Goodison Group in Scotland to refresh our work on education and learning.

If you have any questions or comments on any of these topics, please don’t hesitate to get in touch on ScotlandsFuturesForum@parliament.scot.


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.