Hi I'm
Dr Jane Atterton

  • Position: Manager and Policy Researcher, Rural Policy Centre
  • Location: Edinburgh Campus
  • Expertise:
    • Policy
    • Natural Economy

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I am a Geographer with over 22 years' experience of undertaking mixed method research on rural and regional socio-economic change. I focus on rural communities and their characteristics, challenges and opportunities, for example relating to demographic change, housing, digital connectivity and service provision. I also research non-land based rural businesses and their contributions, potential and needs, and rural policies and the policy-making process. I have a keen interest in the processes of rural and island proofing.

I joined SRUC's Rural Policy Centre (RPC) in 2010. Since then I have worked to grow the Centre and its reputation as a hub for research and knowledge exchange activities relating to the rural and natural economy. I am responsible for leading the Centre’s activities and staff, which includes publishing research reports, research and policy briefings, organising high profile events, publishing blog posts and opinion pieces, and maintaining a web and social media presence.

Areas of expertise and interests

  • Policy
  • Natural Economy

I'm currently working on

  • Reimagined policy futures: shaping sustainable, inclusive and just rural and island communities in Scotland (Scottish Government Strategic Research Programme 2022-27) – this project explores new ways of tackling persistent challenges facing many rural and island communities (demographic change, housing and social exclusion and marginalised voices) in the context of newly emerging issues, such as net zero targets and changing mobility and working patterns.
  • Novel insights on Scotland’s rural and island communities – this project is also part of the new Strategic Research Programme and it focuses on improving our knowledge of rural and island businesses through new analysis of secondary data, in-depth qualitative work on sectoral case studies, exploring the concept of community wealth building in rural and island locations, modelling the impact of changes to future agricultural support payments, and exploring regional food economies.
  • Building the circular economy: sustainable technologies, green skills and upscaling behaviours – this project is also part of the Strategic Research Programme and is exploring, through rural and island case study work, the opportunities and barriers for rural and island locations from circular economy initiatives, related to skills, behaviour change, technological developments and other factors.
  • Vulnerability of remote coastal communities to water challenges: Perception, valuation and coping mechanisms – this research, also part of the Strategic Research Programme, aims to determine what drives the response of remote coastal communities to existing and anticipated water challenges in Scotland, addressing the risk of low flows and water scarcity, as well as high flow situations.
  • Exploring approaches to island depopulation in Scotland – this work for the Scottish Government has reviewed national and local level policies aimed at tackling island depopulation, as well as four island case study initiatives in Japan, and identified appropriate learning for Scotland. We have undertaken this work with colleagues at Newcastle University, Akita International University and Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology.

My professional highlights

  • Secretariat (as RPC) of the Cross Party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Rural Policy
  • Member of Defra’s Academic Panel
  • Member of the Scottish Government’s Rural Economy and Communities Stakeholder Group
  • Invited speaker at many conferences and events, including the European Network for Rural Development (Thematic Group on Rural Proofing), the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, OECD Rural Development conferences and Rural Working Party meetings

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