We are living in a time of enormous constitutional flux, one of unprecedented significance in the development of modern Scotland. Hardly more than a decade after the establishment of a devolved Parliament and Government we are faced with an even more fundamental set of choices about whether and on what terms Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom or become an independent state. The challenge is to ensure that a unique opportunity to debate and decide our constitutional future is embraced as widely and fully as possible and treated with the seriousness it deserves
As a joint initiative of academics across the law schools of the Scottish universities, the Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum seeks to provide an independent framework within which the key questions concerning Scotland's constitutional future can be aired and addressed. We aim to contribute in a number of ways.
First, we will help to frame and map the constitutional debate. The terms and scope of the constitutional debate are not the property of any political party or pressure group, but a collective endeavour in which a wide range of groups and interests should participate. We want to ensure as broad, comprehensive and integrated a treatment of the relevant issues as possible. We will identify and to foster discussion of general questions of constitutional process, pathways, outcomes and relations as well as the key sectoral policy questions (defence, currency, citizenship etc) relevant to any constitutional settlement.
Secondly, we seek to inform these various interconnected discussions. Drawing upon our own knowledge and expertise and upon other relevant Scottish, UK and comparative international sources, we promote considered deliberation and argument and provide a resource of ideas and information for all those who are interested in the debate.
Thirdly, we provide an avenue for engagement in the constitutional debate. If the success of constitutional renewal depends not just upon the range and richness of the discussion and the quality of the outcomes but also on the breadth and depth of public involvement, then it is incumbent on us to do what we can to promote such engagement. We should not contemplate ourselves as standing outside a process unfolding elsewhere, but as part of that process. We see the universities in general - and their law schools and related centres of expertise in particular - as performing a key bridging role in this regard, not just as points of knowledge exchange but as a disinterested meeting place for all sections of Scotland's civil society and political community. All of our initiatives are, therefore, planned in an inclusive manner. Our forum is an open one, drawing in as wide a range of contributors and audiences as possible.