Environmental campaigner Alastair McIntosh has been appointed visiting professor at Strathclyde University
Alastair McIntosh, a leading environmental campaigner, has been appointed visiting professor at Strathclyde University.
He was teaching director at Edinburgh University's Centre for Human Ecology until the institution in effect axed the centre in 1996 by suspending its MSc course. Edinburgh said it was an academic decision, but the centre's staff and students claimed the university was embarrassed by the controversy the centre generated.
Mr McIntosh re-established the centre as a free-standing organisation, accredited by the Open University Validation Service.
Mr McIntosh said he might now have been in line for an Edinburgh chair had he "kept his nose clean". "I chose instead to focus on land reform, challenging the corporations and questioning the science White Paper."
But he is quick to acknowledge the important start that Edinburgh gave to human ecology. He adds that the political context was very different in 1996. The Conservatives were in power and one critic accused him of "raising the spectre of a Scottish parliament".
Scotland's concern for social justice is now seen as academically respectable, he said. "And across Britain as a whole, the growing consciousness of the interdisciplinarity needed to tackle the environmental crisis means research councils are far more switched on to the important issues than they were."
Mr McIntosh took a broad-based degree at Aberdeen University, specialising in geography but also studying a range of science subjects, psychology and moral philosophy. He hasn't got a PhD but has some 200 publications to his name. He jokes that his book Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power probably contains three doctoral theses. Its fans range from George Monbiot, who said "Make no claim to know the world if you have not read this book," to Thom Yorke, lead singer of Radiohead, who described it as "truly mental".