The last year has brought into sharp focus the role and responsibilities of universities to support society.

Augment Bionics team with printed mask

As a large organisation, how we do things can have both positive and negative impacts on people and the natural environment near and far. The University’s new Social and Civic Responsibility Plan sets out our plan to increase the positive impact we can have across everything we do, and actively seek to reduce any negative impacts. It sets out our commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals and how critical local and global challenges are interconnected. 

Staff, students and alumni have come together as one University community this year to address the climate crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the systemic racism in our society.

The University will play a key role in the important COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow this year. We aim to ensure that the University’s wide array of climate change-related research supports negotiators to make the bold global commitments that are needed to address the climate crisis.

Experts and academic research from the University have contributed to policy responses and interventions from governments to Covid-19. Projects supporting those most severely affected by the pandemic in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas have been awarded funding from the University. The University will have a critical role to play in supporting the post Covid-19 recovery and regeneration in positive and sustainable ways.

Equality, diversity and inclusion is a strong focus for the University. The new RACE.ED hub will address the issue of racism by bringing together academics from across the humanities and social sciences to explore the vital role that ideas of race and practices of racism play in social, political and economic life across the globe.

This Annual Report provides a snapshot of how the University’s community has delivered on our commitments as set out in the Social & Civic Responsibility Plan, through its academic research, learning and teaching, operations and partnerships.

The coming year, will again bring into focus how universities contribute to society. As Scotland’s original civic university, we recognise our role in education, innovation and research, provides us a special responsibility to be future facing and address tomorrow’s challenges in a fair and sustainable way, both locally and globally.

Amanda Scully, Vice President Community, Edinburgh University Students’ Association

Dave Gorman, Director of Social Responsibility and Sustainability

Professor Lesley McAra, Assistant Principal, Community Relations

Professor Sandy Tudhope, University Lead on Climate Responsibility and Sustainability