With the Islands (Scotland) Act 2018 and the current £100 million Islands Growth Deal, Scottish society is becoming more aware of the importance of the Scottish islands. However, what future awaits them?

Four themed workshops will research potential futures, exploring their demographic challenges, their large-scale renewable power generation projects, space centres, rich cultural heritages, and creative industries. The workshops will involve expert island researchers from Scotland, Ireland, and members of the UArctic Thematic Network Arctic and Northern Islands Research from the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Canada and Finland. The experts will engage with islanders during the workshops, conference and on the INS website.

The experts will discuss the topics together in the mornings and in the afternoons the sessions will be streamed.

The following core questions will be addressed:

  1. How will vibrant, successful island populations be maintained into the future?
  2. What level of autonomy will best serve the island communities going forward?
  3. How can the islanders best engage with the changing environment?
  4. How can islands become sustainable, and how can large-scale developments be absorbed by small island communities?
  5. What role will island cultures and languages have in future scenarios?

The four workshops will be as follows:

  1. The Future of Core Periphery Relationships 3 February 2023
  2. Speaking of the Future - the Role of Language, Culture and Heritage 3 March 2023

This workshop will be held in Shetland and will focus on island governance. Participants will explore relationships between islands and their metropoles i.e. Edinburgh and London. Are there better models of governance? Is island autonomy a goal to be strived for?

This workshop will be held in the Outer Hebrides and will examine the role of the indigenous culture and languages in supporting vibrant communities. Is there a future for Gaelic and the Northern Isles dialects?

  1. Future Sustainable Communities – exploring the scope and scale of island development 21 April 2023
  2. Networking for the Future – islands doing it for themselves 12 May 2023

This workshop will be held in Orkney and will examine the optimum level of development for islands. Ought they to be industrialised, or should the focus be on small scale development, such as support for the creative industries?

This online workshop will focus on inter-island discourse, and the creation of island focussed networks. Island communities can establish links with each other, without involving the centre. What will be the future for islands if this trend continues?

The workshops are intended to have a direct impact on Scottish island communities, bolstering islander agency, supporting islanders to make informed decisions and to maximise their potential, while minimising the effects of future threats, and helping them to chart a course to a sustainable, vibrant future. They are also intended to have an impact on policy makers and informing local and National Government policies.

Full details of these events can be found here: Institute for Northern Studies - Public events and seminars (