SCIS Community

SCIS Co-Directors

Kathryn A. Burnett is senior lecturer in the Division of Arts and Media, University of the West of Scotland teaching across inter-disciplinary undergraduate and Masters programmes in Creative Arts Practice and Media. With a background in social anthropology, sociology and cultural studies, Kathryn’s research interests include the mediatization and representation of remote and island spaces; identity and place narratives of Scotland’s rural communities; cultural work of islands; Scottish cultural heritage contexts for applied creative practice; and sustainability, enterprise and cultural policy in small island and ‘remote rural’ contexts. Kathryn is Co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Island Studies. Contact:

Ray Burnett is a writer and researcher based on Benbecula. With a focus on the transnational dimension of the cultural and social history of Scotland’s islands, Ray has lectured on Scottish island studies at universities, graduate schools and summer schools across Scotland, Europe, Canada, and the Far East and served on the EC of the International Small Islands Studies Association. A commitment to knowledge transfer has extended to treatments and research for television documentaries on aspects of the social history of Scotland’s islands and the initiation of various island community-based cultural and social history projects. Ray initiated and co-founded the Scottish Centre for Island Studies. Ray is Co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Island Studies.

Mike Danson is an economist and Professor Emeritus of Enterprise Policy, Heriot-Watt University and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. He has published widely on rural, regional and island economies, microbreweries, minority languages, and many other areas of Scottish Economic policy and social development. Chair of Basic Income Network Scotland, Chair of the 2021 BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network) world congress, depute Convenor Jimmy Reid Foundation, Trustee of Nordic Horizons and Community Renewal, Mike is on the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Commission and has advised, national and international organisations: OECD, WHO, EC, trades unions and community groups. Mike is Co-Director of the Scottish Centre for Island Studies. Contact:

SCIS Colleagues

Rosie Alexander is a researcher, lecturer and careers adviser based in the islands of Orkney. She specialises in research relating to career development, education and guidance, with a particular focus on rural and island communities. Rosie currently holds a position as lecturer in Careers guidance at the University of the West of Scotland, as well as running a small consultancy business. Contact:

Iain Caimbeul is a Research Fellow at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Iain is a native Gaelic speaker from South Uist.  With Masters Degrees in Rural Development, Business Management and Economic Policy, alongside the practical experience of managing his own economic development consultancy, Iain has extensive knowledge of the community dynamics of the Highlands and Islands.  Currently at the Language Sciences Institute of UHI working on the sociolinguistics of Gaelic, Iain brings extensive knowledge and expertise to this role having previously held Board positions at Bòrd na Gàidhlig and MG ALBA.  Iain was one of the co-authors of a recent important publication, ‘The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community: A Comprehensive Sociolinguistic Survey of Scottish Gaelic’.

Hugh Cheape is Professor of Highland history and culture and teaches a postgraduate programme through the medium of Scottish Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture, at the University of the Highlands and Islands. The MSc Cultar Dùthchasach agus Eachdraidh na Gàidhealtachd (‘Material Culture and Gaelic History’) drew on a career in the National Museums Scotland (1974-2007). Hugh’s expertise contributes to a range of key scholarly partnerships on the wider valuing of Highlands history and culture, with an associated range of publication and outputs on Scottish culture, language, ethnology and musicology. 

Alexander Gagnon is Senior Lecturer at Liverpool John Moore’s University. A geographer by training with expertise in Climatology, Alexander’s research interests range from understanding the temporal and spatial patterns of climate variability to vulnerability, resilience and adaptation to climate change. His research aims to understand climate change and variability and their impacts on society, and he is particularly interested in the connections between climate and hydrology, notably on the impacts of climate change on water resources. He is also interested in climate impacts and vulnerability research in different geographical regions and sectors of society with the aim of informing adaptation decision-making, and in this area of research his work has to date focused in coastal environments and World Heritage sites. Email address:

Tony Grace is Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking and Creative Practice. With a background in practice-based research and documentary filmaking but also wide ranging interdisciplinary research interests at the intersections of culture, archaeology and industrial heritage, literature and creative media practice Tony has worked on a number of island and coastal creative and media projects including George Orwell, and recent film practice on the legacy of James Boswell. Contact:

Lynda Harling Stalker is an Associate Professor of Sociology at St Francis Xavier University, Nova Scotia, Canada. She researches cultural work, rurality and narratives particularly in the context of North Atlantic islands. Her latest article (co-authored with Patricia Cormack) explored controversy around the “Chase the Ace” phenomenon on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Contact:

Elisabeth Holm works as Quality Unit Coordinator at the University of the Faroe Islands. Elisabeth’s PhD research, based at Heriot Watt University, Scotland focused on the experiences of migrants of non-Nordic origin in acquiring, using and becoming speakers of Faroese and the challenges they faced regarding labour market access and participation. Her PhD thesis title is: “New Times in the Faroe Islands, New Speakers of Faroese and the Sociolinguistics of Labour Market Inclusion: Challenges and Opportunities”. Research interests include language and migration, ‘small’ & minoritized languages, adult migrant language education, sociolinguistic ethnography, multilingualism in the periphery, the role of language in the construction of social inequality, social justice issues, language policy; and lifelong careers education and guidance.

Donagh Horgan is a researcher, architect and development consultant specialising in social innovation, community resilience and placemaking. Alongside academic research, he consults on public sector transformation for settlements and communities – with specialist knowledge in service design methodologies. A keen Irish speaker, Donagh has a strong interest in Gaelic culture, and in particular collaborative approaches to decision-making and participation from past societies. His research examines diverse topics such as impacts of over-tourism on social exclusion, and the relationship between structural policy solutions, mainstream planning and nuance governance models that devolve ownership to citizens. Areas of expertise include smart energy systems, circular economy; the Future of Work and social equity. Taking an engagement led approach, Donagh uses participatory tools to facilitate stakeholder dialogue, identify insights, and maximise tacit knowledge for impactful co-production. Contact:

Calum MacLeod is Policy Director for Community Land Scotland and a freelance Sustainable Development Consultant, originally from the Isle of Harris in the Western Isles and now living in Glasgow. He led post-legislative scrutiny of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 on behalf of the Scottish Parliament in 2010 and has undertaken feasibility studies for numerous islands communities in relation to community land purchases in the Inner and Outer Hebrides.  Calum occasionally writes on land reform issues for the West Highland Free Press, the UK’s first employee-owned newspaper. Contact:

Máiréad Nic Craith is Professor Emerita (Social Sciences) at Heriot-Watt University, Having grown up on the island of Ireland, she has consistently maintained a strong interest in island studies. Her academic career began with a lectureship at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies, funded as a result of the Irish Government’s commitment to the Anglo-Irish Agreement. Subsequently, she was appointed Director of the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages at the University of Ulster, set up in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement to undertake cross-community research, teaching and outreach activities on the island of Ireland. In 2012, I was appointed to a Chair in Cultural Research and Anthropological Studies at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. She has held a number of interim positions internationally. In 2010, she held a research fellowship at the National University of Ireland in Dublin. She was subsequently appointed to a DAAD guest professorship at the University of Göttingen. She has held honorary professorships at the University of Exeter and the Ulster University. More recently she was a visiting research fellow at Harvard University, where she researched links between the Irish diaspora and Boston. Her most recent publication is The Vanishing World of the Islandman: Narrative and Nostalgia published by Palgrave.  Mairéad is currently research islands and placenames.

James Oliver is a Hebridean Gàidheal and a transdisciplinary academic, educator, and writer. He has over 20yrs of professional practice across a range of disciplines (creative arts and design, social sciences, ethnography, arts development, community practice). This has nurtured a ‘practice-as-research’ career beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, particularly at the intersections of cultural relations and Indigenous Practice Research. Contact: