One of the great things about studying in the School of GeoSciences post-graduate programmes at the University of Edinburgh is the university’s very close proximity to policy-makers whose own work is often informed by our programmes’ research and teaching. The Scottish Parliament operates a wide variety of Cross-Party Groups, which are forums for its elected members to interact with leaders of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the general public on matters of public interest. Several of the groups are dedicated to topical areas of concern to us in GeoSciences; these include food, renewable energy, animal welfare, crofting, oil and gas, among many others.
Meetings usually feature presentations from experts in government, academics, and industry, followed by opportunities for all present to pose questions and offer comments to the presenters. Members of the Scottish Parliament, for their part, use the information presented during the Cross-Party Group meetings to inform the policy decisions they take at Holyrood. Coffee, tea, and light refreshments are available for all participants.
One of the best parts of these Cross-Party Group meetings is that anyone is welcome to attend and even to join their memberships, regardless as to citizenship. These groups represent excellent opportunities for post-graduate students seeking opportunities to meet future employers, to gain contacts for research and activism, to influence public policy in a meaningful way, or simply to deepen their own knowledge in areas of their own concern.
For further information on the Scottish Parliament’s Cross-Party Groups as well as contact information for the group convenors and secretaries, point your browser to http://www.parliament.scot/msps/cross-party-groups.aspx.