In consultation with our regional partners we have identified four research areas which reflect the Single Outcome Agreements for Dumfries & Galloway Council and the South of Scotland. These themes provide focus for the initial workings of the Institute.
Rural Economy and Skills Development
The South of Scotland is badly served by economic and labour market intelligence. As the effects of economic turbulence become evident, the significance of this deficit has been recognised across all sectors leading to an appreciation of the need to ensure on-going scrutiny of market trends to better understand, prepare for, and respond to their socio-economic impacts. Local partners draw on the research and knowledge transfer expertise in the Crichton Institute to develop their understanding of these impacts and to support the development of regional economic and social policy specific to rural areas.
Community Development and Place-Making
Dumfries and Galloway is a rural region that requires a diverse yet integrated approach to optimising the sustainability and resilience of its small towns and communities. This must encompass economic, community and rural development, supported by evidence based policy and robust evaluation. The Crichton Institute helps to optimise the sustainability and resilience of communities and the development of places ‘where people want to live and where their needs are met’.
Impacts of Demographic Change
The South of Scotland faces a complex range of issues associated with its demography. The Crichton Institute provides a collaborative resource for research, analysis, interpretation and policy innovation that: provides an evidence-base for better targeted services and ensures best value; optimises wellbeing; identifies and promotes inter-agency solutions; and supports Community Planning Partners as they experience the impact of demographic change and the challenges of reduced public funding.
Influencing Policy and Practice
Regional Policy has been promoted successfully by the European Union/Commission across the South of Scotland for several decades yet there is much that can be done to release further regional potential. Active engagement between regional, central government, European and international level partners has proved successful in the past (e.g. in Rural Development) and the Institute will extend this work at a higher level, with more robust methodologies and greater impact and dissemination. The South of Scotland has an established strategic framework for dialogue around matters affecting the regional economy. Better support from policy related research, dialogue and data sourcing and interpretation through the Crichton Institute enables local partners to engage more effectively at local, national and international levels.