Lynn Whitaker FRSA lectures at the University of Glasgow and recently nominated a young person to join the RSA via the Centenary Young Fellows scheme. Find out why she wanted to support the scheme and why she thinks nurturing younger people is so important:
1) Tell us a little about what you do and what you are passionate about.
I am a Lecturer in Cultural Policy and Cultural Industries in the Centre for Cultural Policy Research at University of Glasgow. We attract a strong cohort of mainly international students, indicative perhaps of the increasing importance and reach of media and cultural policy as a driver within the global economy and this is also reflected in the prestigious research profile of the centre.
I have been at the Centre since September 2012 and I'm still in the early career stage (I completed my PhD in 2011), having embarked on postgraduate study - and a career change from secondary education - as a mature student. My subject specialism spans three areas: children's media, public service media, and the UK's media production industries. I am particularly passionate about broadcasting policy and the future of the BBC and to this end I am a trustee of the VLV (Voice of the Listener and Viewer).
2) Why did you get involved with the RSA?
I became involved with the RSA after being invited to take part in a consultation exercise hosted by one of the Fellows’ networks: Media, Creative Industries, Culture and Heritage (MCICH). I was particularly attracted by the diversity of backgrounds and opinions represented within the network although perhaps a bit daunted that I may not be able to add much beyond my own specific area of expertise in media and cultural policy.
I needn’t have worried though as the whole point of a network is to draw on individual strengths in order to arrive at the bigger picture response. Fellowship was a logical next step for me and I was thrilled to be nominated by Ann Packard, Chair of the MCICH steering group. My first events have both been in Edinburgh but am very much looking forward to visiting RSA House (and having lunch in The Vaults!).
3) You recently nominated someone for our Centenary Young Fellows scheme – why do you think it’s important to get young people involved?Any society or organisation is only as strong as its active members. I think this is particularly so in volunteer, charitable or not-for-profit bodies and organisations where membership also implies that you contribute or do ‘something’. The RSA wouldn’t have lasted as long as it has without encouraging active membership so, in the simplest terms, engaging with young people and getting them involved guarantees the future of the RSA in this fast-changing and connected world. But RSA has such a history, such a legacy, such an august reputation, that it may seem a daunting institutional edifice to scale even for those in established careers, never mind for future ‘thought-leaders’ at the start of their journey.
I am privileged to teach Master’s level students from across the globe and I know that their ambition and talent flourishes best when properly nurtured and supported. That’s why I was genuinely excited to hear about the launch of a dedicated programme for young Fellows that would offer not only the ‘honour’ or accolade aspect of being a fellow but back it up with support structures and resources – including peer network events - that will nurture effective contribution.
4) Tell us about the person you nominated and why you nominated them?
I nominated Shaun Gunner who, at only 26, is Chair of the Tolkien Society, a UK educational charity, and volunteer for Mankind, a Brighton-based service for men who have suffered sexual abuse. As well as his obvious commitment to civic society in his personal life, Shaun works in politics as a campaigns manager and has such a fantastic 21st century skillset.
Actually, when I myself was first nominated as a fellow, it was Shaun – who is an incredible ‘doer’ and someone who backs up his ambition for change with positive action – who immediately came to mind as someone who would make a great contribution to the RSA and so the timing of the Centenary Young Fellow scheme was perfect. I should stress we don’t share political affiliation so my high regard is founded solely on his exceptional ability and track record! Importantly, I think it is the two-way benefits of the CYF scheme that makes him such a good fit: I believe Shaun is exactly the sort of person who could make excellent use of what the RSA has to offer and that he would be a fantastic ambassador for the scheme and for the RSA.
Inspired by Lynn's story? Find out how you can help bring a younger generation into the Fellowship by supporting the Centenary Young Fellows scheme. The scheme is part of the celebrations for 100 years of Fellowship coming up later this year.
If you would like to nominate a young person or have any questions about the scheme please contact Tom Beesley.
As a Fellow you can nominate friends and colleagues who would benefit from joining the RSA's unique network and support our aims. If you are not a Fellow, find out how to become one.