In creating a network of researchers exchanging expertise on the connectedness among, variously, Scotland, Europe and the wider world, and in engaging and sharing knowledge with cultural organisations and public bodies, SNNEC aims to align with the wider strategy for Higher Education as envisaged by Universities Scotland in its Vision document. Among the recognised drivers of change is the realignment of Scotland’s relationships with Europe and the wider world in the aftermath of Brexit. The transnational, European and global focus of SNNEC on a transformative period in the past, its emphasis on connectedness and the inter- and crossdisciplinarity of its research, encompassing the rich, textured and variegated connections and comparisons between Scotland and Europe, provide historical and cultural depth and orientation for current debates as society and cultures move forward.
In stressing diversity, connectedness and complexity, SNNEC provides a forum for a wider understanding of Scotland’s place in the world in the past, encouraging reflection on links and comparisons between the past and the present. In so doing, it provides a platform for debate about people in Scotland as Scottish, UK, European, and Global citizens. Aligning with Universities Scotland’s strategy of forging a space for reasoned debates on current challenges, and offering expertise and insights for the wider community, SNNEC thus contributes to the strength of Scotland’s universities in a connected world, and to Scotland’s identity as a prosperous, inclusive and outward-looking nation. SNNEC also engages with some of the key strategic aims of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, in that it brings scholars together to address new research agendas (in this case connectedness, hidden and ‘weak’ connections, relational approaches to Scotland’s place in the world and its relations with Europe) and to engage with knowledge exchange in partnership with public and cultural organisations. And in engaging with a topic which resonates with today’s problems in an interconnected world disrupted by, among other challenges, conflict, international tension, populism and a global health pandemic, SNNEC provides an opportunity for individual scholars and, through its public events, members of wider civil society, to address these issues of common concern.