Students: Scotland’s most underrated resource - RSA

Students: Scotland’s most underrated resource


  • Picture of Ewan Tennant FRSA
    Ewan Tennant FRSA
  • Fellowship

Gone is the popular opinion that students are an unmotivated group that care for naught but long nights, late mornings, and lazy days. Student activism is a thing of the past; the student protests are starting to be replaced by a growing movement in student bodies across the UK. The student think tank is here!

Students at the University of Edinburgh have taken action into their own hands by seizing a gap in the current political landscape. The Buchanan Institute is Scotland’s first and only think tank ran entirely by students. If you give students a platform and a voice, they will be heard. As a group, students possess a certain directionless passion and motivation, which is something to be nourished. By providing a supportive environment where students can develop their ideas, you can start to explore the true potential that is yet to be unlocked.

A student-led think tank brings together the rich diversity of talent at a university. It channels the energy, originality, and drive of students to generate ideas that span the academic and policy spectrums. There are tens of thousands of students in Edinburgh who have great ideas and want to make a difference - Buchanan provides the platform to articulate their vision. Those who join the institute begin by identifying a particular policy area or problem they are interested in. They then embark on a strenuous research project to expand their knowledge about these issues as well as identify and develop potential solutions. 

As a community of individuals with a shared goal, we come from very different backgrounds both academically and personally. The nature of a policy-based think tank will inevitably draw in students of the humanities; however we bring in students with scientific, clinical, and philosophical backgrounds and help them to help shape the world of tomorrow.

We forge lasting connections between dedicated student work groups and professionals engaging in front-line work in the field. This is a kind of collaboration not seen often. Students act as a force to be reckoned with, gaining hands on skills and contacts while actively contributing to the solution they are seeking. Our close work with the RSA has led to contribution to a Universal Basic Income scheme to be piloted by Glasgow City Council and Fife Council this year. We are engaging environment groups like SEPA, Zero Waste Scotland, and the 2050 Climate Group with students through environmental policy projects, professional research, and leadership development. The epitome of this will be the first Edinburgh Sustainable Innovation Conference on Monday 20 February this year! It will see groups from across sectors in Scotland come together and open a conversation about realistic solutions to the problems faced today; couple this with fresh ambitious ideas from the student body and you have a recipe for something really special!

Our ethos at Buchanan is Turning ideas into action. Too much talk and not enough action is holding us back socially, economically and environmentally. Instead of more hot air we give students a voice to put forward their own alternatives, their own solutions; we give them the ability for their ideas to become reality.

To find out more about Buchanan and the upcoming conference see below:

Twitter @buchananinst

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