Senior Landecker Fellow Laura Westring’s Action Project has evolved from the original Caledonia School of Speech Writing to the new Scottish Festival of Political Communication convened by the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Humanities and Arts and co-sponsored in its inaugural year by Laura Westring, Charlotte Street Partners and Newsdirect.
On March 31, 2023, the festival will welcome students of the University of Stirling and political staff working at the Scottish Parliament to focus on its three founding themes of democracy, diversity and employability over four sessions:
- The words we choose,
- The words we write,
- The words we teach,
- The words we lead by.
Speakers confirmed at the festival include:
- The Rt Hon. the Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
- Malcom Robertson, Founding Partner, Charlotte Street Partners
- Martin Whitfield MSP for South Scotland (Region)
- Assa Samaké-Roman, Freelance journalist and foreign correspondent
- Clare English, Veteran BBC broadcaster, Events and Podcast Host
- Gerald Richards, CEO Superpower Agency
- Junaid Ashraf, Co-founder Scottish Asian Business Chamber
- Laura Westring, Writer and Senior Landecker Democracy Fellow
- Nasim Forootan, Senior Landecker Democracy Fellow
- Rachel Amery, Political Reporter at DC Thomson
- Rodger Evans, Senior Clerk, Scottish Parliament
- Tosin Ogunlesi, Director, Black Professionals Scotland
- Dr Vanessa Collingridge, Broadcaster, Writer & Owner, Monster Media Productions
- Zahra Hedges, CEO Winning Scotland
Together, the University of Stirling Faculty of Arts and Humanities and the festival’s organizers hope to set new precedents in demystifying lesser known political career opportunities and to inspire new talent to consider taking up the meaningful and fulfilling work that will contribute to a renaissance in ethical and inclusive political communication.
Discussing the significance of the festival, Laura Westring said, “From the hundreds of political aides starting out their careers at Scottish Parliament to the thousands of diverse community organizers who regularly give speeches, but may never have considered a career in speech writing, politics, or public policy – it is time for those already working successfully to open up their networks, to donate their time and resources and to share their expertise and career journeys.
The hope of this festival’s organizers is that, in time, many more young people, regardless of their backgrounds, will confidently follow in the footsteps of those already in political, economic and community leadership: enhancing Scottish democracy and nurturing public trust in Scottish democratic institutions.
In this first-of-its-kind event, students and staff of the University of Stirling and the Scottish Parliament are invited to a day of expert talks and panel events offered by Scotland’s leading talents in political speech writing, leadership, business, journalism and education.
That such an event should be created for students, and offered free to students, is a new and welcome development enabled by the University of Stirling, Faculty of Arts and Humanities at a time in which access to political or corporate speech writing expertise – to name just one example – has been financially inaccessible for too long.
My hope is that this festival becomes an annual event that, through further partnerships and increasing support, can be made open to the public and create new opportunities and connections between University of Stirling, the Scottish Parliament and city of Stirling as well as new opportunities for all of Scotland’s young people interested in enhancing democracy.”
Laura is one of thirty 2020-2021 Landecker Democracy Fellows. This fellowship, a collaboration between the Alfred Landecker Foundation and Humanity in Action, was created to strengthen a new generation of leaders whose approaches to political and social challenges can become catalysts for democratic placemaking and community building. Read more about the fellowship here.