Skip to navigation Skip to content

37th T.B. Macaulay Lecture - Policy, practice, science and my distant relatives

Important information for event attendees and external visitors

coronavirus (COVID-19)In light of the most recent advice from the UK Government about stopping non-essential travel and increasing social distancing, most of our events have been rescheduled or moved to an online format.

Our sites have been placed on a restricted access condition, which means that only staff who are doing essential work can get access. All other colleagues will be working from home or staying at home even if they are unable to work remotely.

We have excellent and free to use video conference and conference call systems and are happy to make these facilities available to help you engage with us. Meetings are taking place via video conference with participants joining individually from their own locations; check with the relevant member of staff for advice.

As the situation is constantly changing, please check the UK Government and NHS websites for the latest advice and updates.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

25 September 2014, 10.30am: Free
at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 22–26 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PQ
for interested parties and members of the public
William Sutherland

Professor William J. Sutherland, Miriam Rothschild Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Cambridge, will deliver the 37th T.B. Macaulay lecture which will be held for the first time at the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

The annual Macaulay lecture is given to stimulate thinking and dialogue about contemporary environmental issues in order to honour the vision of Dr Thomas Bassett Macaulay. Dr Macaulay was one time President and Chairman of the Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada who provided an endowment to found the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research in Aberdeen in 1930; a predecessor of the James Hutton Institute, a world leader in research in the land, crop, water, environmental and socio-economic sciences.

The lecture is presented in partnership by the James Hutton Institute and the Macaulay Development Trust. Lecture slides are now available to view here.

The lecture is free to attend but places must be booked in advance due to limited seating. If you wish to attend please email our events staff to enquire.


The lecture will tackle the challenge posed by increased calls for policy developers and decision makers in Scotland to base their decisions more firmly on the underlying science. Professor Sutherland will argue that current processes often lead to poor and slow decisions and the inefficient or problematic use of resources. He will outline various problems and describe methods that can help individual policy developers and decision makers and also improve the decision making processes.


Professor Sutherland’s interests include applying ecological data and models to understand conservation problems and more recently the role of science in the decision making process. He co-wrote a recent paper in Nature considering ways to improve the evidence base of policy. Rather than trying to teach science to politicians and policy makers or getting more scientists involved in politics and decision making, he and his co-authors suggested 20 top tips that should be part of the education of civil servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists – and anyone else who interacts with science or researchers.

Printed from /events/37th-tb-macaulay-lecture-policy-practice-science-and-my-distant-relatives on 30/05/20 12:54:39 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.