The Scottish Parliament's think-tank

Tackling 21st Century Inequality

Extract of Danny Dorling book cover "Shattered Nation" with text: Inequality and geography of a failing state.

Wednesday 23 August 2023, at the Royal Society of Edinburgh

What can be done to help Britain tackle the giants of 21st century poverty, and is Scotland providing some answers?


Hosted in partnership with the David Hume Institute, this event featured a keynote presentation from Professor Danny Dorling from the University of Oxford, on inequality in the United Kingdom.

Previewing his new book, “Shattered Nation: Inequality and the Geography of a Failing State“, Danny explored how Britain lost its role as Europe’s leading economy and made itself one of the most unequal countries in Europe.

Professor Dorling’s introduction was followed by reflections from three leading figures in Scotland:

  1. Karyn McCluskey from Community Justice Scotland
  2. Katie Kelly, formerly of East Ayrshire Council
  3. Shan Saba, Director at Brightwork recruitment agency

Through an open Q&A discussion, and small group debates, the seminar brought together perspectives from across Scotland’s political parties, spheres of government and economic sectors to challenge each other’s points of view, ignite conversation, and look to a brighter future for Scotland and the wider UK.


A report of the event will be published here shortly.

Speaker Biographies

Professor Danny Dorling

Danny Dorling joined the School of Geography and the Environment in September 2013 to take up the Halford Mackinder Professorship in Geography. He was previously a professor of Geography at the University of Sheffield. He has also worked in Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds and New Zealand; went to university in Newcastle upon Tyne, and to school in Oxford.

Before entering academia Danny was a play-worker in children’s play-schemes and in pre-school education where the underlying rationale was that playing is learning for living. He tries not to forget this. He is an Academician of the Academy of the Learned Societies in the Social Sciences, a former Honorary President of the Society of Cartographers and a current patron of Roadpeace, the national charity for road crash victims.

Karyn McCluskey currently leads the Community Justice Scotland team and has overall responsibility for raising awareness of the value that community justice brings to individuals and communities. Her aim is to provide leadership in a highly complex sector that covers multiple professional and organisational operating environments.

She trained as a nurse, and then in psychology. She spent 21 years working with the police and helped establish the Violence Reduction Unit in 2003 with a Public Health approach to preventing violence.

Shan Saba

Shan Saba is a graduate of Strathclyde University who has worked within the employment sector for nearly 18 years where he holds a leadership role at the largest recruitment business in
Scotland. Shan works with the Scottish Government’s Human Trafficking Team.

He is a Trustee Board Member of the Refugee Survival Trust and a committee advisor to Show Racism the Red Card in Scotland.

Katie Kelly was formerly Deputy Chief Executive with East Ayrshire Council where her portfolio spanned a wide range of services and cross cutting transformational topics including economic growth, community wealth building, community power, community led regeneration, Housing, net zero, workforce planning and wellbeing.

Afternoon lecture for the DHI

Following the workshop, Professor Dorling provided a public lecture for the David Hume Institute.

Chaired by Assa Samaké-Roman, a journalist and newspaper columnist from France who lives in Edinburgh, this session was separate from the Futures Forum event but the video is provided below for further context.


David Hume Institute Logo