Prof Frank Rennie



Professor of Sustainable Rural Development, Head of Research and Postgraduate Development

Prof Frank Rennie

Faculty of Science and Technology

d: +44 (0) 1851 770451


Professorial lecture - 'Why bother about rural areas' (pdf)

Postgraduate students

Research interests

Opportunities for new approaches to distance and open education, especially computer-based distributed learning systems, as a contribution to improved development on and in rural communities.

  1. The impacts of online education and ICT services, especially for rural areas.
  2. Rural and Community Development Studies
  3. Human Ecology - The interface between nature conservation and the development of human communities.

Specific research Interests

  1. Opportunities for new approaches to distance and open education, especially computer-based distributed learning systems, as a contribution to improved development on and in rural communities.
  2. The animation of grassroots community development, especially mechanisms for participation in integrated rural development initiatives and the practice of participatory action research by rural communities
  3. Practical systems for securing sustainable development in rural communities.
  4. Cultural and social issues as a mechanism for development (especially among minority cultures).
  5. Rural landuse, land ownership, and land management, including small-scale agricultural activities and the crofting system in particular.
  6. Support and training for leadership development in rural areas.

External interests, member of associations, advisor etc

  • Appointed a Research Associate of the UHI Environmental Research Institute
  • Appointed External Examiner at the Institute of Educational Technology, the UK Open University (2018-2021)
  • Appointed Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, 2018
  • Appointed External Examiner to the Centre for Innovative and Lifelong Learning, University of Mauritius (2014-2018)
  • Appointed to the Editorial Panel of the Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice (JPAAP)
  • Appointed to the Editorial Panel of Folk Life (Journal of Ethnology)
  • Appointed Visiting Professor at Kings College London and Member of the International Advisory Board on the Udente Project (online dental education) (2009-2013)
  • Appointed External Advisor to the Open University UK for the new Masters Programme in Innovation in e-Learning (2011-13)
  • Fellow of the Geological Society of Edinburgh - since 1978
  • Fellow of the Arkleton Trust for rural development - since 1987
  • Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society - since 1992
  • Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2018 to present)
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society - since 2003
  • Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – since 2017.
  • Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society – 2021-2022
  • Member of the Association for Learning Technology (also UK Research Committee Member 2006-12)
  • Member of the International Rural Network (2003) (and Member of the Membership Committee)
  • Appointed a Trustee of the Arkleton Trust for innovation in rural development and education. (2005-2013)
  • External Examiner at the National University of Ireland (2011-1014)
  • External Examiner at the Open University (2007-2008)
  • External Examiner at the University of Strathclyde (Dept. of Geography and Sociology) (2004-2010)
  • Appointed consultant to the Carnegie UK Trust on their Rural Action Research Programme (2005-9)
  • Appointed advisor to the TANZ Polytechnics on the opportunities for the implementation of distributed education in New Zealand.
  • External Examiner to Masters Programme at Centre for Human Ecology (OUVS)
  • Appointed Adviser to the Scottish Parliament (Rural Development Committee) (2002)
  • Appointed to the Scottish Regional Advisory Group for the management of the European Union Northern Periphery Programme for regional development. (1998- 2005)
  • Appointed to the Community Economic Development Advisory Group of the Highlands and Islands Partnership Programme. (2000-2004)
  • Specialist advisor in the EU funded research project on "Operational features for managing sustainable development in Amazonia (Amazonia21 Project) (1998-2001)
  • Appointed to the BBC's Scottish Rural and Agricultural Affairs Advisory Committee. (Scottish Chairman and Member of the UK RAAC 1997-2001)
  • Member of the European Rural Observatory of the European Commission to monitor progress and innovation in rural development throughout Europe as part of the LEADER 2, Programme. (1995-2000)
  • Appointed to the Secretary of State for Scotland's Working Group on Education for Environmental Sustainability. (ESDG) (1995-2000)
  • Accepted as a founder Member of SUPRA (Scottish Universities Policy and Advice Network. (1999)
  • Appointed Scottish Co-ordinator of the Nordic-Scottish Universities Network for Rural Development. (1996-1999)
  • Member of the Executive Committee of Rural Forum Scotland. (1992-1999) (Director of the Board from 1997)
  • Director of the Board of Lewis Crofters Limited (crofters co-operative and suppliers) (1989-2001)
  • Appointed Director of SEAD (Scottish Education and Action for Development) (1992-1994).
  • Member of the Agricultural Training Board (Scottish Training Committee) (1986-9)
  • Co-founder and Steering Group member of Highlands and Islands Forum. (1985-91)
  • Founding President of the Scottish Crofters Union (1985-8) (and National Executive Delegate until 1993.)

Research projects

  • Global Challenge project on CHORTENS (Creating Helpful Open Research Tools for Engaging New Staff) linking the UHI with the Royal University of Bhutan (2018-2021).
  • Online-offline systems to enhance the quality of Higher Education in Least Developed Countries (Bhutan) funded by the Scottish Funding Council and the UHI (2017)
  • e-tips (e-textbook institutional publishing service) (lead partner, with Edinburgh Napier University); funded by JISC (Joint Information Services Committee, for UK Higher Education) (2014-2017)
  • Sustaining livelihoods in remote and fragile communities: The role and impact of ferry transport. Funded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Calmac (2014-2015)
  • Higher Education Academic funded project on Education for Sustainable Development - co-participant (2011)
  • NetUniversity: The development of open educational resources and online education with academic partners in Iceland, Sweden, and Labrador, Canada (2008-2010)
  • Edushare: Distributed Learning Capacity-Building for Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia, and the Maldives (EU Asia-Link II Programme, 2007-2010)
  • THETA: Tourism, Heritage, and Environment: Technology Applications (Highlands and Islands Enterprise2007)
  • EU Grundtvik GOAL project to research systems to support the Generation of Online Adult Learning
  • The Development and Management of Sustainable Systems for Distributed Higher Education in Nepal and Bhutan (EU-Asia Link)
  • The Connecticon:Learning for the connected generation.
  • "How to Use Broadband" for community and business development.
  • Critical factors in the success of one-stop-shops as a model of service delivery within rural locations. (Scottish Executive)
  • eLearning models desk study (JISC)
  • The Use of Computer Networks for Community and Business Development
  • Indicators for sustainable rural development at the community level
  • "Operational features for managing sustainable development in Amazonia", (The EU funded Amazonia21 Project.)
  • Review of international best practice in service delivery to remote and rural areas (contract for the Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department)

Internal interests

  • 2013-Present - Assistant Principal (Research, Enterprise, and Development) at Lews Castle College UHI
  • 2011-2014 - Appointed to the UHI Academic Council
  • 2010-2014 - Member of the UHI Professorial Forum
  • 2009-Present - Appointed UHI Ambassador
  • 2007-Present Professor of Sustainable Rural Development
  • 2004-2013 Head of Research and Post Graduate Development, Lews Castle College, UHI
  • 2000-2004, UHI Development Director at Lews Castle College.
  • 2004-2008 Member of UHI PolicyWeb (also on Management Committee and Advisory Committee)
  • 1999-2004, Convenor of the Research School of Sustainable Rural Development at the UHI Millennium Institute.
  • 1996-9, Head of Rural Development and Communications Department Lews Castle College.
  • 1996-2000, Course Director for the University of the Highlands and Islands Project Rural Development, Degree programme (the first network degree of the UHI)
  • 1995-Present, Appointed to a full-time lecturing and research post (part-time since 1993) in Rural Development with Lews Castle College
  • 1994-7, Commissioned by the University of the Highlands and Islands Project Degree Planning Committee(inter-college) to enable the preparation and delivery of the BSc Degree in Rural Development.

UHI Committees

  • Academic Council
  • Academic Titles Review Board
  • Advisory Committee on Enterprise and e-marketing
  • Research Ethics Committee
  • Research Degrees Committee
  • Research Committee
  • Information Services Sub Committee
  • Subject Network Committee: Sustainable Science, Heritage and Development
  • Course Committee BSc Rural development
  • Course Committee Heritage & Environmental Interpretation in Tourism
  • Course Committee MSc Infection Control
  • Course Leaders Forum
  • Web Development Committee
  • Library Procurement Committee
  • International Student Committee
  • Sabbatical Review Committee
  • Science and Technology Faculty Board

Lews Castle College committees

  • Senior Management Team
  • Research and Scholarship Committee
  • Academic Board
  • College Management Committee
  • Quality Assurance Committee
  • Teaching and Learning Committee
  • Research Approvals Committee
  • New Courses Committee