Congratulations Esther!

The SGSD’s Writer in Residence Esther Rutter has won the 2017 Roger Deakin Award. Awarded by The Society of Authors/Authors Foundation, the award assists writers with research costs for works in progress. Previous winners include Lucy Jones (Foxes Unearthed), Helen Scales (Spirals in Time), Caspar Henderson (The Book of Barely Imagined Beings), and Rob Cowen (Skimming Stones and Other Ways of Being in the Wild). The award was set up in memory of nature writer Roger Deakin (1943 – 2006), author of Wildwood, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, and Waterlog and co-founder of Common Ground.

Creating a splash in Ullapool

Ullapool is located on the North West coast of Scotland, sandwiched between mountains (Bheinn Ghobblach to the west, An Teallach to the south west) and the Atlantic. The hub of the town sits on the edge of a sea loch, behind the ferry port, from which the Caledonian MacBrayne does the return trip to Stornoway each day.

On the 8th and 9th of July 2017, Ullapool Coastal Rowing Club (CRC) hosted its annual Scottish Coastal Rowing Regatta. 23 Scottish Rowing Clubs took part, including St Andrews CRC. Nina Laurie and Jen Remnant, both GOSSIP researchers, took on dual roles as part of the event – both rowers for St Andrews CRC and researchers as part of the ‘Rowing the Waves’ project.

The project is exploring the scope and impact of Scottish Coastal Rowing on coastal communities, using a mixed method approach. In addition to interviews, focus groups and surveys, the project features ethnographic methods, which were employed in the fieldwork in Ullapool. Furthermore presence at the regatta meant that the researchers were able to engage with a larger number of Scottish Coastal Rowers, and introduce them to the project, as well as catch up with project partners and participants.


Crafting the future! Knitting solutions in UN conference on learning for sustainability.

GOSSIP members Esther Rutter and Rehema White facilitated craftivism at a UN conference on learning for sustainability in Edinburgh last week! Participants knitted squares using left over wool remnants during a workshop on values and talks on sustainability action. One participant even crocheted a square using a pen. Squares were sewed together to create a matrix symbolising the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This piece of crafted work was hung in a tree to raise awareness of the work of the conference and to signify the needs to work in partnership and to acknowledge different actors and skills in our pursuit of sustainable development.


Learning underpins the capacity of people to fulfil their potential, to be active members of flourishing communities and to encourage organisations to pursue sustainable pathways. Our network organisation, Learning for Sustainability Scotland (LfS Scotland), is Scotland’s United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development (UN RCE ESD). These organisations are each based at a university, but influence all forms of learning for sustainability across their regions: formal, including schools, universities and colleges; informal, including communities and institutions; and informal, including wider cultural and media influences. There is now an international network of over 150 UN RCEs.

Last week LfS Scotland hosted the UK annual conference of UN RCEs.

The crafted piece will be taken to the European UN RCE conference in September, representing the inputs and aspirations of UK participants, and then will be displayed at the Global UN RCE conference.

Esther Rutter, Writer in Residence wins book deal

In January 2017 Fife-based writer Esther Rutter decided to quit her day job to write and knit her way round the British Isles, combining locally-produced wool and historic knitting patterns to explore UK’s long love affair with wool.

After entering writer development agency’s XpoNorth’s Tweet Your Pitch competition on 6 January 2017 with her idea for This Golden Fleece, Esther attracted the attention of Edinburgh literary agent Jenny Brown. There was a flurry of interest in the book at the London Book Fair, and, after a two-way auction, world rights in the book were won by Bella Lacey, Editorial Director of Granta Books in April. This Golden Fleece is due to be published by Granta Books in Autumn 2019.

Esther Rutter commented: “Tweet Your Pitch is a fantastic initiative, enabling new non-fiction writers like me to grab the attention of publishers and agents with a dash of chutzpah and a good idea. Thank you to Jenny Brown, XpoNorth and the University of St Andrews for making my long-held dream of becoming a writer into a reality.”

Bella Lacey of Granta said: “I’ve been captivated by Esther Rutter’s absorbing history of wool and her intimate, inspiring mediation of the craft and history of knitting. She’s an instinctive storyteller, with a brilliant eye for detail, and brings startling new, and forgotten, histories to the surface. I’m thrilled to be welcoming her to the Granta list.”

Esther lives in Ceres and has just been awarded a Writer in Residence position at St Andrews University within the School of Geography and Sustainable Development. You can follow her journey on Instagram@thisgoldenfleece or Twitter @thisgoldfleece.

New Data Club starts

Our first get together took place in beautiful sunshine on Tues afternoon (8th May). The fortnightly meeting will bring together PGR/ECRs to get together and go through qualitative data. One person brings a transcript and we work through it as a group, eat cake and talk about qual data more generally. There is no expectation that attendees would come to the group every time it ran, though there is the expectation that people wouldn’t only come when bringing their own data.

Photos from our recent Away Day

Our first ever GOSSIP Away Day took place on Wednesday 3rd May at the St Andrews Botanical Gardens.


New research centre to inform housing policy in the UK

The University of St Andrews is a key partner in a new UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) which was announced on Friday 7th April.

The Centre will launch on 1August 2017 for five years and will receive £6 million of funding from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), with support from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). A further £1.5m of funding will come from the consortium itself.

Dr Kim McKee, Director of the Centre for Housing Research, at St Andrews and Senior Lecturer in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development, is a key partner in the centre.  She brings expertise in housing inequalities, drawing on her recent research on ‘generation rent’ which highlights an emerging housing aspirations gap.

Louise Reid hosts Fife Schools Event – 15th March.

On 15th March we welcomed 160 Higher Geography Pupils (& their teachers) from across the 18 Fife Secondary Schools for a mini-conference on geography. Led by GOSSIP member Dr Louise Reid, we talked with the pupils about a wide range of topics from housing (Dr Reid) and population change (Dr McCollum) to glaciology (Dr Sevestre), malaria (Dr Cox-Singh) and geomorphology (Dr Cowton), demonstrating the breadth of the subject and the potential opportunities for future study in the discipline. The aims of the event were to give pupils a taste of cutting-edge research in geography to supplement what they learn in class, and to enthuse them about future careers/studies in geography. The event was organised in combination with Claire MacLeod, principal teacher of Geography at Levenmouth Academy in Buckhaven, who is Fife representative of the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers.

Health Volunteering in Scotland – 9th March

Benet Reid gave a presentation at the March meeting of Scottish NHS  Volunteer Managers, about a plan for collaborative research on health volunteering in Scotland. His ideas were well-received, raising some exciting possibilities for collaborations in the near future, and beyond.

Benet Reid

A Question of Sport – 8th March

Jen Remnant is on the ‘editorial collective’ of a BSA (British Sociological Association) funded blog. Her latest contribution is about rowing and can be found here: