Island stories

This blog is coming to you from the Orkney Islands, more specifically from Kirkwall. I am here to discuss with government agencies, the local council and partner universities the role we might play in developing a high-value innovation agenda for Orkney, thereby increasing its prosperity but also its attractiveness as a place in which to live or invest.

Like many islands, Orkney has a long history of cultural and economic activity, but a less certain future. But islands are important centres of human culture and endeavour and deserve to be supported and protected. They are also wonderful locations for biodiversity.

Orkney in particular is fascinating. Unlike Scotland’s western islands (the Hebrides), Orkney’s (and Shetland’s) ancient history is not Celtic but Norse; in historical terms it only joined Scotland relatively recently. But its contribution to Scotland is enormous, particularly in the arts and in the creative industries. This is a good place for universities to provide the kind of support that normally goes to city regions. That way Orkney will leave an even greater legacy to future generations.

PS. The Italian Chapel pictured above has a particularly interesting history. You can read more about it here.

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4 Comments on “Island stories”

  1. paulmartin42 Says:

    University of Aberdeen @ Orkney alliterates but is (an excellent Tourist destination) Orkney a good place to put one. Durham has just pulled back from its campus in Stockton (of “to Darlington” railway fame) and there was lately controversy about a Glasgow Uni with no students at its NYC campus. Rebranding small FE Colleges may or may not have worked for University of Highlands & Islands but in these Strike-ridden/Brexit/.. times is another Uni what we need ? Money in these parts of Scotland seems to be being diverted to vanity projects (take today: £4.6 million for 5 people to buy an island+) away from wider education. Aberdeen College (NEScol) is going thru Voluntary Severance again as is the CIty Council which now has no Education Director.

    Besides it’s an awful long (ferry) way from civilisation … or is that Shetland.

  2. Vincent Says:

    Ohh they are Celtic too. But that’s not really the question.
    The only real answer to all the places like it, west Kerry, west Galway, West Spain for that matter and all the way to the Narvik is to fine something that provides a regular certain and future proof income for all the people in the area.
    The only thing that will do that is alcohol. But not low end paint stripper, but something sublime. And the beauty with that model is it keeps people in good and bad.
    The last such drive was the Tweed in the Western Isles and the Fairisle knit ware. And these worked to some extent.
    There is one thing I would council against. The setting up of the Irish CoOp model. On the face of it this is incredible effective. But the truth is a bit different. It starves investment while keeping prices of goods it sells to the farmer/workers high. It retains vast amounts of cash calling it investment but instead buys cash for local programmes while using the reserve to buy abroad.
    Where I think you and the other university’s can help is in forming a sustainable model. To help build and train those to run it, and to use your business and accounting dept’s to make certain the moneys stay put. I expect this would require a Royal Charter.
    Et/agus/and. The beauty of alcohol is the sheer bloodyminded inventiveness of the human, meaning you can ferment and distil almost anything.

    • paulmartin42 Says:

      No not more public money into the devil’s drink … cf BrewDog, various Gins etc Meanwhile on this am TV the problems reeked by alcohol in shops/society are bemoaned. Can I recommend you look at a few books on the problems in Distilleries with the free nips


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