Is the digital society good for us? That’s a question that’ll be explored in depth during, ‘Net Benefits‘, an Engage with Strathclyde event. In this blog for Glasgow City of Science, we find out more from the organisers on what to expect…


More than ever, we work, live, learn and engage in social networks. But are computers and the networked society a force for good? Or are the fears of new technologies justified?

As part of Engage with Strathclyde week, the International Public Policy Institute (IPPI) are hosting an event, at the University of Strathclyde, which will take stock of our digital society. We will explore the social impact of rapidly advancing technology.

Four leading Strathclyde voices will question, in a series of short talks, the impact of technology in four areas: Work, Health, Education, and Citizenship.


New technologies have transformed the labour market over the last two decades. Although there is rising prosperity, there is also rising wage inequality. There are concerns about “skills mismatches”, and fears that computerisation is putting jobs at risk. What can and should we do? David Wilson, Executive Director of IPPI, will explore the challenges of inclusive economic growth and how labour and educational polices can respond, especially for our young people.


People in Scotland are living longer and the rate of disease is decreasing. While public health is improving, it is improving less quickly compared to other countries. And the health inequality gap between rich and poor persist. New technologies in digital health care will help combat disease and improve care. Will a changing digital society provide opportunities to improve health? Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, will place the emphasis on wellness as the criterion for judging the benefits of a digital society.


Technological advancements can impact on the learning process. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and digital learning have been talked up, but will digital learning transform our learning practices, and universities in particular? Dr Cristina Costa, Lecturer in Lifelong Learning (Technology Enhanced Learning), will look at our changing learning habits, and explore the relationship between technology and education as cultural practices.


Social media is now widespread in political campaigning, especially among young people. One the one hand, it offers a new platform for discussion and deliberation, such as during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum and the current EU Referendum. However these debates can turn nasty, and there is a need to develop online behaviours so that social media can fulfil its promise. Dr Mark Shephard, Senior Lecturer in Government and Social Policy, will evaluate the recent experience, and outline how we can improve online engagement as an essential ingredient of our democracy.

About us

Since our foundation as a ‘place of useful learning’, the University of Strathclyde, seeks to research, teach and be of benefit to society – to reach outside the University. Strathclyde’s International Public Policy Institute aims to make a difference to the quality, impact and outcomes of public policy in Scotland, the UK and internationally.

Net Benefits – Is the Digital Society Good for Us?, will be held on Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 4:00 pm – 5:15 pm at the Technology and Innovation Centre. See here for further details and registration


Look-out for more posts from Engage with Strathclyde participants on the Glasgow City of Science Blog and follow them on Twitter @EngageStrath