So the country has voted to leave the EU. The results show we are split on the issue, by region, by age and by economic prosperity. If early reporting is right, and 70% of the young voted to stay in, then they deserve a real explanation from their elders as to how we got ourselves into this mess, and how we’re going to get ourselves out. The Brexit campaigners have given the young very little to hold onto in the narrative they have constructed of fortress Britain, under siege from the rest of the world, unwilling and unable to join with anyone else in solving the global challenges we all face.
A strong research community depends upon the free flow of ideas; opportunities to meet and discuss across national boundaries; ways of developing research capacity through collaborating with others ; and encouraging students to move across national borders too. EU funding has facilitated all of the above and many of us have benefitted both directly and indirectly.
Some of the key issues that will follow for the research community from the decision to leave, are set out in this briefing from the Academy of Social Sciences.
They quite rightly highlight the need to mend fences following the bitterness of the debate, whilst finding new ways to foster fruitful research collaborations and the freedom of movement that brings international researchers to study and work in the UK. Research has a role in explaining the past and looking to the future. In difficult times we need to find better ways to make common cause.