Christopher Harvie

Global Perspectives Guest Speaker

Prof. Christopher Harvie is a historian-ecologist in the radical Scots tradition of John Muir and Patrick Geddes. Born in 1944 in 'Steelopolis' Motherwell, he was taught by his father in a country school near Walter Scott's Abbotsford, and like Scott went to the High School and University of Edinburgh. In 1969 he became a founder-historian at the Open University—teaching by TV, radio, evening and summer school and postal contact—while writing a PhD on 'Oxbridge'  radicals and democracy, 1864-1886 (notably James Bryce, of 'American Commonwealth' fame). He married Virginia Roundell, 1944-2005, the great-granddaughter of one of them, in 1980, when he became Professor of Regional Studies at Germany's historic Tuebingen University. His daughter Alison will be joining the Explorer in Donegal.

Parallel to this he was involved in Scottish politics, first in the Labour Party and after 1989 as a Scottish Nationalist. Among his fifteen books, three studies of Scotland's economy, culture and politics are still updated; others deal with European regionalism, political novels (he edited John Buchan's '39 Steps'), North Sea oil. 'Floating Commonwealth', for Oxford, 2008, has been called a virtuoso study of the Atlantic in the steam age, 1860-1930.

Harvie was a Scottish MP, 2007-11, as liaison officer to First Minister Alex Salmond. He fought to restore trams to Edinburgh and trains to the Scottish Borders—they're back on 6 September!—and now he's tackling the conservation of Scotland's seas and harvesting 'the might of the mighty Atlantic' for renewable energy.


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