University of Dundee University of Dundee
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19 November 2012

`5 MILLION QUESTIONS’ - analysing Scotland’s referendum

It is the biggest event in Scotland for over 300 years, a referendum to decide whether the country establishes independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. And everyone has a question about how the decision will affect them and the future of the country.

Now the University of Dundee is launching a major project - `5 Million Questions’ - to examine the issues around Scotland’s constitutional debate.

Every aspect of Scottish life stands to be impacted upon by the result of the referendum. The public debate to this stage has been both highly technical and overtly party political. `5 Million Questions’ aims to stimulate wider debate, apply academic rigour to examination of the issues, and engage with the public on all aspects of the major questions they are facing.

"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," said Professor Christopher Whatley, Vice-Principal of the University of Dundee and leader of the `5 Million Questions’ project.

"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. 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 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, a leading political commentator, author and journalist, has been appointed Associate Director of the project.

"There is a lot of `noise’ around the independence debate but most of it is being presented from entrenched political positions," said David. "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 world - particularly other areas where constitutional change is very much on the agenda - is watching with keen interest to see how this plays out. 5 Million Questions will provide answers leading up to the referendum in 2014 and beyond."

There will be particular focus over the course of the referendum debate on the role to be played by Scotland’s constituency of 16- and 17-year-olds. 5 Million Questions will seek to both hear and stimulate their views.

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.

For media enquiries contact:
Roddy Isles
Head, Press Office
University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
TEL: 01382 384910
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