Back to the Future: What could or should rural be in 2098? 

A 75 year journey forward on SCRR’s 75th birthday – RSE/SCRR Peter Wilson Lecture

In 2023, the Scottish Consortium for Rural Research (SCRR) will reach its 75th birthday. 

Two years after the Agriculture Act came into being in May 1948, urging all farmers to “make two blades of grass grow where one grew before”, food security and sovereignty were foremost in minds and policies, and the SCRR was born. 

Skip forward seven decades and now land has to serve multiple functions, with competing calls on its finite capacity. Additionally, “rural” is not the home only of those “connected to the land” but of businesses reaching for the stars and connected to the global village rather than only their locale. 

Now let’s imagine the scale of change in another 75 years – what is inevitable? What is desirable? And what needs to be in place to ensure changes that meet the societal goals of current and upcoming generations in 2098? 

We’ve asked thinkers of different generations to challenge us by speculating about rural futures. Come and join the debate to help shape that future together.


A man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera
Professor Sir Ian Boyd


Sir Ian Boyd

University of St Andrews

Professor Sir Ian Boyd is a professor at the University of St Andrews and Chair of the UK Research Integrity Office. He was Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government on Food and the Environment (2012-2019). He is a marine and polar scientist, a Board member of UKRI, President of the Royal Society of Biology and is co-chair of the Environment Council for Scotland with Scotland’s First Minister.

A man wearing a hat and glasses
Katie Dubarry


Katie Dubarry

Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh, and Founder of Eweper

Katie has an eclectic career path encompassing farming, entrepreneurship, and academia. She completed her undergraduate studies in Agriculture at SRUC, a step-change from her first career as a beauty therapist. She is working on her PhD researching the sheep transcriptome; and is the founder of a start-up developing enabling technologies for the sheep sector. She currently chairs the Early Careers Council at the British Society of Animal Science. She is also Mum to two neurodivergent kids and loves bad coffee and good video games.

A close up of a girl
Jessica Giannotti


Jessica Giannotti

Director of Crùbag

Jessica Giannotti founded Crùbag (Scottish Gaelic for crab) in 2013 after completing her studies in marine science at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), part of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). Crùbag, situated by the sea in Argyll at SAMS, is an ocean-focused interdisciplinary textile design studio and materials innovation lab. Merging art and science, and collaborating with marine scientists, they create artful textile collections and new sustainable materials from the ocean to reveal our planet’s unseen beauty, share ocean knowledge, and inspire a deeper connection with nature. Jessica’s more recent work focuses on developing sustainable natural dyes from seaweed. The textile industry is a polluter of the ocean, and Crùbag has a role to play in supporting the development of ocean-friendly materials, working at the intersection of marine science, sustainable aquaculture and the fashion and textiles industries. Last year Jessica won the UHI Alumni Disruptor for Good Award.

A man smiling for the camera
Dr Leslie Mabon


Dr Leslie Mabon

Lecturer in Environmental Systems, The Open University

Dr Leslie Mabon is a Lecturer in Environmental Systems at the Open University. He has a PhD in geography, and a research focus on resilient and just coastal societies. As well as working in his native Scotland, Leslie also has a particular interest in doing research in Japan and east- and south-east Asia more widely. Leslie is a member of the Young Academy of Scotland, and a Future Earth Coasts Fellow.

Other speakers to be announced soon.
In partnership with
  • Scottish Consortium for Rural Research logo (SCRR)
A view of the side of a mountain road


Tuesday May 23rd, 2023 17:00-18:30


The Royal Society of Edinburgh




Dr Leslie Mabon


Katie Dubarry