A little bit about myself

I was born in Dundee, Scotland and brought up firstly in the Hilltown district and then in Kirkton - one of the greener, if rougher, areas on the outside of the town where I was lucky enough to have the advantage of going to Kirkton High school. It was at the time, as far as I recall, the biggest comprehensive school in Scotland, but despite some of the problems its size might have brought, it had some brilliant teachers in it, who convinced me that university should not be out of reach if I applied myself to my work.

I then went to my local university in Dundee where after a very brief false start studying electrical engineering, I quickly tranferred to social sciences and graduated with a joint Honours MA in Economics and French. During this period I spent a year in a small mining town of Noeux les Mines in France, teaching as an english assistant in a local school, which gave me an continuing interest in the usefulness of languages.

Having been brought up in a radical tradition and in a family committed to social change, I then spent some time in London and Glasgow working for the Young Communist League and Communist Party trying to combat the dire problems caused to British society by the policies of the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In the early 1990s I briefly became the first Convener of Democratic Left Scotland, its successor organisation.

Returning to academic life in 1995 I completed a PhD in the Economic Impact of Gaelic Arts and Culture and have worked at Glasgow Caledonian University since then - for 12 years in the Economics Division, and since then in the Cultural Business Department which is now in its most recent iteration as the Department of Social Sciences, Media and Journalism. During this period I was fortunate to win a UK award for the use of Virtual Learning Environments in teaching, and during that period also was appointed as a Caledonian Scholar by my university for my work on the use of blogs and wikis in education.

From my doctoral work on Gaelic language my interest has grown regarding the interaction between culture, language and development and the bulk of my research has continued to be in this area. For five years, until December 2010 I contributed in a practical way to the work of the BBC in this area through my membership of the BBC Audience Council Scotland by monitoring the quality and quantity of Gaelic language broadcasting, amongst other issues.

In May 2015 having become increasingly active in trade union actiivities, I was elected as Scottish President of the UCU - the University and College Unio. This is a lay position which I will occupy till the end of May 2017 and means that I currently work on academic issues three days per week, and spend two days on union activities.


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