Dr Alison Elliot

Honorary Fellow


It was Duncan Forrester who introduced me to New College, by inviting me, in 1985, to join the newly formed Centre for Theology and Public Issues. I knew Duncan from my time as a graduate student in Experimental Psychology in Sussex University, where he was chaplain. I was an Associate Director of CTPI from 2001 – 2018.

The theme of theology and public issues continued when I was appointed to the Church and Nation Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, of which I was Convener from 1996 – 2000. I was also involved with the equivalent ecumenical commissions at Scottish and European levels. In 2004, I was appointed Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and, in 2009, Moderator of the Assembly of the Conference of European Churches, in both cases the first woman and, arguably, the first lay person to hold these positions.

In 2007, I was asked to be Convener of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. That led to an intense and satisfying period of involvement with charities and civil society, which included being:

  • Chair of the Lay Advisory Group of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
  • Founding Trustee of the Refugee Survival Trust
  • Trustee of Volunteering Matters
  • Chair of the International Futures Forum
  • Chair of Scottish Churches World Exchange and Trustee of the Scottish Malawi Foundation
  • Member of the Christie Commission on the Delivery of Public Services in Scotland and Chair of What Works Scotland, which explored the impact of the Christie Report’s four principles
  • Chair of the Land Reform Review Group, which led to the 2016 Land Reform Act and establishing the Scottish Land Commission
  • General Secretary of the Royal Society of Edinburgh