Academics' experiences

What is it really like to work with SPICe and the Scottish Parliament?

Hildigunnur Anna Hall - ESRC funded policy intern 

"I very much enjoyed the internship with SPICe. It gave me an opportunity to use the skills that I've acquired during my studies outside of the academic context and equipped me with new skills that will be useful for my current and future work. I learned a great deal from preparing for and writing up a SPICe briefing, which involved meeting with stakeholders, familiarising myself with published policy and research materials, taking different perspectives into account and communicating my work in a concise manner. I organised a breakfast seminar, where I, alongside experts in the topic of my briefing, presented my work to MSPs and other Parliamentary staff."

John Ferrier - NERC funded policy intern 

"A policy internship at SPICe provides a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the role that science and research play in informing policy. During my time with SPICe I was treated as an equal member of the team and provided with every resource to develop skills in science communication that are invaluable for any scientific career. 

Through meeting with stakeholders and answering enquiries, a SPICe internship provides a range of additional transferrable skills, whilst the briefing and blogs that are produced are of genuine use to MSPs and parliamentary staff. The researchers at SPICe create a fun, welcoming environment and are very eager for you to succeed – I would highly recommend the experience!"

Dr Arianna Andreangeli - Academic Fellowship

"In Autumn 2016, the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) launched a call for academic fellows who would carry out research on the issues arising from Brexit and affecting the devolution settlement.  Fellows would have to produce a research briefing summarising the outcomes of their research projects.  The briefings are published by the Centre, primarily for the benefit of Scottish Parliament members in order to inform policy and enhance parliamentary scrutiny.  They are also publicly accessible.

The Academic Fellowship Programme in SPICe is truly excellent: academics can work with excellent researchers and have direct access to Parliamentary clerks and other staff who provide invaluable support on parliamentary matters.  Academic Fellows pair with one or two members of research staff, who provide extremely helpful feedback and act as critical friends on the project; more generally, they are there to facilitate any aspect of the project, to assist with drafting the briefings and to support the fellows."

Dr Kirsteen Shields - Academic Fellowship

"I have a PhD from the University of London and hold a lectureship at the University of Dundee. I teach and research a broad range of subjects; human rights, constitutional reform, food security, global governance. Most of all, I am motivated by teaching and research that creates meaningful change. 

In 2015 I was invited to give evidence on human rights and land reform to the Committee on Rural Affairs, Environment and Climate Change after writing a paper on the subject for the Scottish Human Rights Commission’s journal. Through consultation on the Bill, I was able to influence the direction of the Land Reform Bill - for a legal academic, this one at least, it doesn’t get more exciting.

Subsequently, I was invited to pilot the Scottish Parliament Academic Fellowship Scheme. I was asked to prepare a SPICe briefing paper on human rights to be shared amongst the MSPs and Parliamentary staff and also to be publicly available. I was pleased to be asked to contribute to this and work with SPICe researchers at such a critical time for human rights, Scotland and Europe.

My experience at SPICe has surpassed all expectations, and I had high expectations. My role involves lots of stakeholder engagement and cross-disciplinary dialogue and there are opportunities for training. For example, I went to Doughty Street Chambers in London to engage in capacity building around the UN Concluding Observations on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Walking to work through Holyrood Park is not bad either."

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