The Future of the UK and Scotland is a programme funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It brings the best of UK social science to the debate about Scotland’s constitutional future and its implications for the rest of the UK.
That debate is focused in particular on the referendum question that will be posed on 18 September 2014: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”.
It is rare for voters to be presented with a question of such a fundamental character as whether or not to create a new state. One of the central aims of the Future of the UK and Scotland programme is to focus evidence and analysis from leading social scientists onto that question.
The programme will provide an authoritative and independent reference point for those looking for information and insights about the future of the UK and Scotland that stand aside from the politics of the referendum.
It will also carry out ground-breaking social science research. The referendum provides an unprecedented opportunity for social scientists to explore how all those involved - be it citizens, civil society organisations, businesses, political parties, referendum campaigns, governments and other public authorities, even other states - respond to such a fundamental issue, and to understand the implications it raises for them. We have commissioned a series of projects - individual research fellowships, a number of research grants, and a major research centre – designed to explore key issues in the debate and to work with all the various stakeholders, from public engagement activities to seminars with both the Scottish and the UK Governments.
This website will provide a record of what we do. But we also want it to be more than that. We aim to become a one-stop-shop for informed debate that can help voters come to a better informed judgement about their decision in the referendum. So our blog will not just report on our own research findings, but also provide a regular review of key developments in the debate and be a platform for others’ findings. And it will provide an events calendar which will be a ‘what’s on?’ guide covering both our own and other’s events, in Scotland and beyond.
In doing all this we will remain strictly neutral in the constitutional debate. Our findings will reflect evidence collected and analysed using rigorous social science methods, not political preferences. And we will engage that evidence on all sides: with the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns and with the UK and the Scottish Governments.
Professor Charlie Jeffery, Future of UK and Scotland Research Co-ordinator