A Celebration of Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy

Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE
Professor Mark Shucksmith writes this blog following Newcastle University’s award of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2014. This honoured the valuable and influentional research by the University’s Centre for Rural Economy.

This year Newcastle University’s Centre for Rural Economy (CRE) is not only celebrating its 21st birthday. It’s also celebrating the award to Newcastle University of a Queen’s Anniversary Award for its pioneering research into rural economies and societies.

Rural communities’ future prosperity will rely on businesses in a range of many sectors, not just farming; and on people’s capacity to shape their own future through processes of ‘networked rural development’ and ‘place-shaping’, supported by an enabling state. That this is now widely accepted internationally owes much to the pioneering work of staff across Newcastle University, led by the CRE, established in 1992 as a focus for interdisciplinary study and societal engagement. Over the last 21 years, CRE has been a world-renowned research centre in this field, and the novel idea of an economy beyond agricultural development, nurtured by rural communities that have their own rich and diverse sources of dynamism, has now become mainstream. Continue reading

Crofting Reform




Professor Mark Shucksmith OBE
Professor Mark Shucksmith is the Director of NISR. In 2009 he was awarded an OBE for services to rural development and to crofting in the New Year Honours. Last month, at the Centre for Rural Economy’s 21st birthday celebration at Alnwick Castle, he reflected on the Crofting Inquiry which he chaired.

One day in November 2006 I received a phone call asking if I would like to chair the Scottish Government’s Inquiry into the Future of Crofting. It would be like the 1886 Napier Commission and the 1955 Taylor Commission, but wouldn’t be called a Commission to avoid confusion with the Crofters Commission. (You’ll gather that crofting is characterised by complexity!) The Labour/Lib Dem Coalition Government wished to reform crofting, but their ideas had been defeated in the Scottish Parliament and heavily criticised. A new vision was urgently needed, and many thought the crofting system was being fatally damaged. How could I refuse?

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