Scottish independence: University plans independence project

Union flag and Scottish Saltire The university's 5 Million Questions project will examine issues raised by Scottish independence

Dundee University is launching a major project investigating the issues raised by the debate on Scottish independence.

Called "5 Million Questions'" it aims to stimulate wider debate and apply academic rigour to the examination of the issues ahead of the vote in 2014.

It will involve a series of discussions and lectures on key elements around Scotland's constitutional debate.

The university's vice principal Prof Christopher Whatley will lead the project.

Prof Whatley said that the debate, so far, had been both highly technical and overtly party political.

'Honest analysis'

He said: "There is space in the debate under way in civic Scotland for deeper analysis and more profound thinking about the nature of what is under consideration in the referendum.

"Recent weeks have seen calls from the public and prominent Scots to bring a deeper, honest analysis to the debate. 5 Million Questions will address this need.

"Polling tells us that it is questions of history, identity and emotional attachment that will play perhaps the most significant role in terms of the electorate's decision making."

Start Quote

There is space in the debate under way in civic Scotland for deeper analysis and more profound thinking about the nature of what is under consideration in the referendum”

End Quote Prof Christopher Whatley University of Dundee

He said it was up to the Scotland's universities to use their knowledge base to move the debate forward.

Prof Whatley added: "In addition there a host of other issues, in relation to law, international relations, environment, energy, education and educational funding to name but a few, that demand serious consideration.

"Engaging in this critical issue for Scotland and the UK is a responsibility of the country's universities if they are to discharge their role as repositories of much of the nation's knowledge, as forums where informed but radical ideas can be expressed and places from whence the public can expect some measure of wisdom."

David Torrance, political commentator, author and journalist, has been appointed associate director of the project.

He said: "There is a lot of 'noise' around the independence debate but most of it is being presented from entrenched political positions.

"There is a clear need for more sober analysis and independent debate. Every aspect of Scottish life stands to be impacted upon by the result of the referendum.

"The questions and challenges involved are profound and fundamental, involving as they do changes in the constitutional relationship with the rest of the UK that has been in place for more than three centuries."

The university said a full programme of events is being planned, which in the early months of 2013 will include lectures and discussion on issues such as the role of nation states in the 21st century and the shape of a modern Scottish welfare state.

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