Irish and Scottish Academic Initiative
Ireland and Scotland over the centuries have had a close relationship. Though that relationship has frequently been troubled, it has resulted in shared or parallel experiences which more than ever merit study. At a time when relations between Ireland and the United Kingdom have entered a new phase, when both are being affected by changes in the European Union, and when the connections between the different parts of the United Kingdom are being changed by the process of devolution, it is especially valuable to foster strong academic links between Scotland and Ireland.
History, Language and Literature are at the heart of the two nations' relationship. Research in these disciplines will serve both to highlight common problems - the need to preserve or construct an identity in the shadow of a powerful neighbouring culture for example - and differences between the two countries, whether intrinsic or attributable to uneven development of the economics of land usage, industrialisation, language, literary tradition or national sovereignty. The Initiative, in itself a significant manifestation of goodwill in this vital area of concern to both countries, will develop that potential into an internationally-recognised productive understanding of the past, present and future relations of our two countries, within these islands, Europe, and the world.
Our confidence in the Initiative's future success derives in part from the fact that is being developed from roots laid down in the 1970s when the History departments pioneered joint research projects, teaching and Erasmus undergraduate exchange. We have now initiated the second phase of this development whereby doctoral postgraduates, some under the new Socrates programme, will have the unique advantage of the synergy created by the integration of the archival resources and staff expertise of the five universities. In practical terms this means, for example, that a doctoral candidate working on an Irish/Scottish topic will have the exceptional academic and cultural stimulation of spending one of his/her three research years in another university.
We anticipate that research students of the highest calibre from Britain, Ireland, Europe and North America will be attracted to this initiative and look to the emergence of the critical mass of key researchers (postgraduate, postdoctoral and current staff). Indeed, each discipline has already outlined joint research projects intended to develop (partly through staff exchange) innovative and important publication. We also intend by means of public lectures, seminars, symposia and cultural events to disseminate this research to the widest possible public.
In 1997 the Initiative organised a major international conference in the University of Strathclyde, Celebrating Columba: Irish Scottish Connections, 597-1997, the proceedings of which were published and edited by T.M. Devine & J.F. McMillan (John Donald Publishers, 1999). A second event, entitled Ireland and Scotland: Nation, Region, Identity took place in Trinity College , Dublin in 2000. It was addressed by the late Donald Dewar, first holder of the post of First Minister of Scotland’s devolved parliament. The third biannual conference was held in Queen’s, Belfast in 2002, and the proceedings, edited by Edna Longley, Eamonn Hughes and Des O’Rawe, were published as Ireland (Ulster) Scotland: Concepts, Contexts, Comparisons. The 2004 conference was held in Edinburgh in 2004, under the title of National Identity and Cultural Exchange, and its proceedings will be published in 2006.
The aim of ISAI is to promote research and scholarship in the fields of Irish and Scottish culture.
In particular, it seeks to develop research in certain key areas; Irish and Scottish history; Irish literature in English and Scottish literature; and Irish and Scots Gaelic language and literature.
Distinctive aims of the Initiative are:
- A collaborative, interdisciplinary approach, which pools the resources and expertise available in the relevant departments of the four universities: Trinity College, Dublin; Queen's University, Belfast; the University of Aberdeen; the University of Strathclyde, and the University of Edinburgh.
- Academic exchanges, involving members of staff, postgraduate students and undergraduates in all five universities.
- Joint research projects, rendered possible by the critical mass of key researchers delivered by the Initiative
- Enhanced supervision of research students, who have the opportunity to access the research resources and research cultures of four universities instead of one.
- Undergraduate exchanges, to encourage 'East-West' contacts in the younger generation.
- Public lectures, seminars, symposia and cultural events to reach out to the wider public in both Ireland and Britain.
- Trinity College, Dublin
- Queen's University, Belfast
- University of Aberdeen
- University of Strathclyde
- University of Edinburgh
Dr Aileen Douglas ,Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.
Dr Andrew Holmes, Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland. Tel: +44 (0) 28 9097 1297Email: email@example.com
Professor Cairns Craig, Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Aberdeen, Humanity Manse, 19 College Bounds, Aberdeen, AB24 3UG, Scotland. Tel: +44-(0)1224-273681. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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