An impactful year for the RSE – launching a strategic plan for 2023–2028 and continuing to deliver on our mission of ‘knowledge made useful’.

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We want to thank everyone who has engaged, collaborated and supported us over the last twelve months as we welcomed 91 new Fellows into our Fellowship, welcomed over 5,000 attendees at events, submitted 17 advice papers and responded to inform public policy decisions, launched a new strategic vision, deployed over £1.3 million funding to research across Scotland, and much more.

From the team at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, we wish you many moments of joy with your loved ones across the festive season. We’ll see you in 2024!

a new five year strategic plan

Setting our a framework for delivering the RSE’s purpose of ‘knowledge made useful’

The strategic plan is not a blueprint detailing future activities, nor is it a hierarchical arrangement with high-level objectives mechanically flowing down to individual actions. It is a framework for taking stock and continuing dialogue about direction and priorities – a continuous process of deliberation and adjustment in the light of circumstances. It will guide decisions about priorities and meeting our purpose and objectives.

Read the RSE strategic plan 2023–2028

Stats from 2023

Public engagement

Curious, the RSE’s flagship events programme comprised 36 events with 80 speakers and over 1,600 attendees from throughout Scotland and the world.

Over 5,000 attendees at RSE events.

Hosted 70+ events on topics including conservation, learning difficulties, appearance discrimination, and Refugee Festival Scotland, with countless collaborations and partnerships.

Commenced delivery of school and public events as part of the RSE Highlands and Islands programme, including to communities in the Shetland Islands, and Skye.

Refreshed the RSE school talk brochure and programme of activities for young people.

10,000 views from livestreamed events and activities.

Fellowship

Launched the strategic plan 2023–2028, focusing on three broad challenges facing Scotland and the world: climate change and environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and social cohesion and inclusion.

Welcomed 91 new Fellows (one Honorary, six Corresponding, 84 Ordinary) to join the 1,800+ leading thinkers and experts from Scotland and around the world. This year’s cohort represents science, the arts, business, sports, civil society, and academia from across Scotland and beyond.

SGSSS Mentoring Scheme: Facilitated the fourth year of the RSE-Scottish Graduate School of Social Science Mentoring Scheme, pairing 10 Fellows with PhD students to offer support with professional development, research impact, networks, and career progression.

Established an Election Process Working Group to review procedures for the nomination, selection, and election of RSE Fellows.

Awards

Opened two calls for the core RSE Research Awards programme in spring and autumn, with additional calls for SAPHIRE (Scotland Asia Partnerships Higher Education Research) Fund; Healthy Planet, Healthy People: Community-led Awards; Ireland-Scotland Bilateral Network Grants; and RSE International Bilateral Visits.

690 applications were received, with a total of 83 awards made, amounting to £1,320,945.56.

Lead awardees represented 17 institutions across the whole of Scotland.

RSE Research Awards enabled international collaborations with 13 countries.

After a successful relaunch of the RSE Medals programme to include previously unrepresented sectors and the input of eminent women to the sciences, arts, and letters in Scotland, nine RSE Medals were awarded.

Welcomed Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal to present the RSE Royal Medals.

Policy advice

Created two Communities of Interest to convene cross-cutting policy discussions on health and wellbeing and the environment.

Delivered two events in Scottish Parliament, showcasing Scotland’s research excellence, and proposing solutions to the ongoing energy crisis.

Raised the profile of ethical literacy in the curriculum through the Learned Societies’ Group on Scottish STEM Education.

Brought multidisciplinary expertise to all five Scottish political party conferences by hosting fringe events on topical issues.

Encouraged radical thinking on the evolution of post-secondary education through the Tertiary Education Futures project and podcast.

Referenced across 23 government and parliamentary debates and publications including education reform, artificial intelligence, and innovation.

International

High-profile international events included the Connected Scotland partners workshop with the German Academic Exchange Service and German Research Foundation; All European Academies General Assembly on crisis and the importance of research; and the Scotland-Africa: Enhancing Academic Partnerships workshop.

RSE Africa Working Group published a report on activities between Scotland’s universities and African institutions.

Human rights: Responded to seven high-profile academic at-risk cases; became secretariat to the UK and Ireland Human Rights Committee; and responded to the Human Rights Bill for Scotland consultation.

MoUs agreed with the African Academy of Sciences and the German Academic Exchange Service, and a refreshed MoU agreed with the Taiwan National Science and Technology Council. Bilateral Visits and Joint Projects agreed with six international sister academies supporting the mobility of researchers.

Launched the Scotland-Europe Initiative to examine Scotland’s and the UK’s relations with Europe and the effects of Brexit, with nine workshops held and 26 articles published.

Young Academy of Scotland

Forged new connections with our new sister academy, the UK Young Academy with a joint event exploring our ambitions and opportunities for collaboration.

Launched a new rolling application scheme for At-Risk Academics and Refugee professionals, in response to the increasing number of people being displaced by conflict internationally.

Became a Member Academy of ALLEA, the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities. YAS was the joint second Young Academy to join this distinguished body, alongside the Young Academy of Sweden.

Spoke out in support of higher education trade unions on the industrial dispute between unions and UCEA/UUK.

Communications

100+ pieces of media coverage secured across print, TV, radio, and online.

RSE website had 1.5k users, 906k page views and 11k file downloads.

Published three editions of RSE’s magazine ReSourcE themed around biodiversity, international collaboration, and the role of the creative industries in shaping the future.

4,269 new followers across RSE social media platforms.

THe big news and announcements from 2023

The RSE has announced its 2023 intake of Fellows, with 91 names representing science, arts, business, sports, civil society and academia from across Scotland and beyond.
The review features introductory remarks from the President, Professor Sir John Ball, and the Chief Executive, Professor Sarah Skerratt; and provides an overview on the RSE’s commitment to ‘knowledge made useful’; achievements throughout the year, and a summary report on finance and governance.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited The Royal Society of Edinburgh this week to present medals for outstanding academic achievement.
Scotland’s tertiary education sector must adapt to better meet the needs of learners and society at large, according to a new report.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh has announced the programme for Curious, its flagship series of free and interactive events and activities. 
The RSE publishes its Africa Working Group scoping project report.