Wednesday 24th January saw the successful launch of the new St Andrews Fellows’ Network of the RSA Held at the Byre Theatre at the University of St Andrews.
The inaugural event brought together Fellows and interested intellectuals from the local area and further afield, including Glasgow, Aberdeen and Perth. The night provided an opportunity to meet and network, to explore ideas for events and projects, and to connect into the wider RSA.
Tanya Hine RFSA OBE, one of the Fellowship Councilors for Scotland and a member of the RSA’s Trustee Board, was the gracious host for the evening, opening the evening with a brief introduction of the history of the RSA.
Tanya introduced Garvin Sealy, FRSA MFA, who first met with Tanya last year to establish the network. Garvin briefly shared some images of his artistic research and practice, which included stained glass, sculpture, ceramics and printmaking. Due to overwhelming demand from attendees, Garvin has scheduled to do a full lecture series focusing on art in each of these media, the development of craft and technique, and the process by which ideas are generated and refined.
After Garvin’s presentation Tanya used the opportunity to explore the support available to Fellows through the RSA Scotland Venture Fund and the Catalyst Fund, and provided examples of previous successful applications. This segued into a presentation by Brian Howieson from the University of Dundee, who has been researching how to respond to problems around poverty, with Juliette Summers from the University of St Andrews. A thorough presentation was followed by a lively question and answer period full of thought-provoking discussion. After formal proceedings concluded, networking continued well into the night. One of the many St. Andrews academics in attendance was Award-winning Filmmaker, Dr Maryam Ghorbankarim, Persian Language and Culture Teaching Fellow from the School of Modern Languages. With a diverse portfolio of research interests, including Middle Eastern cinemas, media and society, the benefits the joining the RSA was immediately apparent to her. Upon reflection she noted, "Every time I learn about a great event like this I tell myself I need to get better connected because great events ‘do’ come to St Andrews as well. Listening to Tanya Hine going through RSA’s history and some of their iconic achievements was wonderful but what was even more remarkable was learning about the diverse work and research of colleagues who are also RSA fellows and that how RSA’s funding has supported a collaborative research between colleagues from the University of St Andrews and University of Dundee. The RSA meeting was great and I am glad I know what they do now.”
Dr Chantel Davies, Director of Growing Research International and new member of staff as the Business Innovation Manager for the Knowledge Transfer Centre at the University of St Andrews, made many fruitful contacts over the course of the evening. She noted that “There were so many interesting attendees at the event. I look forward to hearing more about Papua New Guinea from Dr. Tony Crook, and the Hindu-Christian peace-building work carried out in India by Professor Mario Aguilar
With over 50 people in attendance, to such an auspicious event, the question on everyone’s lips was, “When is the next meeting?” Due to such a promising start, a full calendar of events for St Andrews and surrounding regions is being planned for the upcoming year.
Building on the first event, a series of lectures highlighting the research and interests of RSA fellows and special invited guests will be explored. The St Andrews Fellow’s network is excited by the opportunity to engage with world-class research, the surrounding community and other fellowships throughout the UK and overseas.