Academic research has a role to play in the ongoing debate about sectarianism in Scotland.
That is the view of Professor Tom Devine, the Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography at Edinburgh.
Prof Devine was part a panel of scholars who took part in a public debate on the issue at the University.
Recent news stories about sectarianism and its links to football have attracted media coverage around the world.
The threat to Scotland's reputation has also prompted the Scottish Government to promise firm action.
Against the backdrop of these latest developments, experts from the University debated the key questions surrounding sectarianism in Scotland.
Among the issues discussed at the event in the George Square lecture theatre was what sectarianism in Scotland means to different people.
It was also discussed whether it relates only to football rivalry or whether deeper religious tensions play a part.
The debate was chaired by critic and commentator Joyce McMillan.
It featured contributions from Edinburgh academics, including historians Tom Devine and Owen Dudley Edwards, sports management expert John Kelly and sociologist Michael Rosie.
The event provided fresh insights into sectarianism based on the most recent academic thinking and research.
I have long thought that Scotland can only come to grips with this problem when we know more about it. Academic research, evidential transparency and rigorous analysis are the vital preliminaries to the planning and then effective implementation of policies and strategies
Professor Tom Devine
Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography at Edinburgh
This article was published on May 31, 2011