The University of Stirling has formed a new partnership with the National Trust for Scotland to enhance research, teaching and learning. 

The collaboration aims to bring together the heritage sector and higher education, building national and international excellence and resilience in the fields of heritage, environment and society.

The National Trust for Scotland is Scotland’s largest conservation charity, with over three million people a year visiting the more than 100 sites it cares for, including ancient houses, battlefields, castles, gardens, coastlines and islands.

The University of Stirling is home to the Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy and is one of Scotland’s leading higher education institutions for research on heritage and environment. It delivers a BA (Hons) History and Heritage, a BA (Hons) Heritage and Tourism (jointly with Forth Valley College), and an MSc Heritage, as well as a thriving PhD programme. The University also co-leads the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities Heritage Hub.

The partnership will focus on four key research themes: heritage values and ownership; complex or contested histories; holistic approaches to nature and culture; and sustainability.

Four National Trust for Scotland staff involved in the partnership have been appointed to honorary positions at the University of Stirling and a joint project examining the ‘Social Values of National Trust for Scotland Heritage Places’ will start in August.

Siân Jones, Professor of Heritage and Director of the Centre for Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling, said: “This exciting partnership will offer our academics and students access to unparalleled research material and a laboratory for developing mission-focused research with impact, including collaborative doctoral projects.

“It also has the potential to contribute to unique learning opportunities, ranging from the use of National Trust for Scotland case studies in teaching and guest lectures by experts from the Trust, through to student placements, internships and staff networking opportunities.”

Kirstie Blair, Dean of Stirling’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities and member of SAHA’s Steering Committee, said: “We hope this new joint venture will support innovative research benefitting heritage, environment and society, and provide both formal and informal opportunities to enhance learning, skills development and knowledge exchange.

“Our vision is to offer a model partnership for collaboration between the heritage sector and higher education, building national and international excellence and resilience in the sphere of heritage, environment and society.”

Michael Terwey, Director of Public Engagement & Research at the National Trust for Scotland, added: “We’re excited to set out on this new partnership with the University of Stirling.

“The pandemic has made people realise, more than ever, the social and economic value of Scotland’s heritage, and we look forward to working with the University to extend our understanding of that. The wide-ranging programme of research and informal and formal learning we plan together will support our charity’s conservation, engagement and sustainability objectives in our ten-year ‘Nature, Beauty & Heritage for Everyone’ strategy, including our objectives to be a learning organisation, and to enable a greater number and diversity of people and communities to access our properties to improve their health and wellbeing.”