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Postcards from Scotland

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Carol Craig is the Centre's Chief Executive. She is author of The Scots' Crisis of Confidence, Creating Confidence: A Handbook for Professionals Working with Young People, The Tears that Made the Clyde: Well-being in Glasgow and The Great Takeover: How materialism, the media and markets now dominate our lives. Her latest book is Hiding in Plain Sight: Exploring Scotland's ill health. She is Commissioning editor for the Postcards from Scotland series. Carol blogs on confidence, well-being, inequality, every day life and some of the great challenges of our time. The views she expresses are her own unless she specifically states that they reflect the Centre's thinking.

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Posted 18/05/2005

I was at Darwin College in Cambridge at the beginning of the week at a briefing meeting about the Centre with some interested people. Many of them worked in the departments of psychiatry or psychology. Cambridge is the leading university in the UK for research and teaching in positive psychology. One of those present was Dr Nick Bayliss who teaches at Cambridge and also writes a weekly column for the Times under the pseudonym ‘Dr Feelgood’. We had an interesting discussion about the Centre and what we are doing here in Scotland and there was much enthusiasm for our work – not just the Vanguard Programme but also the action research training courses and even our use of the ideas from ‘The Tipping Point’. In fact the leading academic on these topics at Cambridge, Professor Felicia Huppert, had even made a point of reading the book before the meeting as she knew as I was planning to talk about it and she was most impressed by Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas.

At this meeting, and at the one in London the following day, those present were aware of how ideally placed Scotland is to lead in this type of work. The confidence/positive psychology/ well-being agenda is of universal significance – particularly in current times. But given Scotland’s health statistics it is likely that our policy-makers will embrace it more enthusiastically than those down south. What’s more as a small country Scotland has a huge advantage. For example, it is feasible for us to attempt to get a good cross-section of policy-makers and leaders on to the Vanguard Programme and for them to believe that enough people have been exposed to such new ideas that we could reach ‘a Tipping Point’. Julia Middleton, who set up Common Purpose, was at the London meeting and she was acutely aware that given Scotland’s role in the Enlightenment it is much easier for us to imagine being at the cutting edge of new thinking than it would be for other small countries such as Wales.

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