Educated at Dollar Academy and the University of Oxford, Jacqueline Smith worked for 27 years at BBC Television. From 2013-2021 she was an Executive Producer at the BBC Science Unit, running major productions for the BBC and international co-producers. Her work has won numerous industry awards, including BAFTA Scotland and Royal Television Society. In recent years, she had found science programmes increasingly shaped by the critical issues of sustainability facing humanity.
In January 2021, she therefore joined the team developing the Futures Institute at Dollar Academy (FIDA), a pioneering initiative with three key aims: to put sustainability at the heart of education; to offer a compelling alternative to traditional exam-focused learning; and to widen access to high-quality educational experiences. FIDA launched in May 2021, offering a suite of projects in which students design a solution to a real-world problem rooted in one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Each project is co-created with experts from industry and universities, and requires students to draw on their knowledge from different areas as well as develop skills such as independent research, problem-solving, creative thinking, and collaboration. To date, over 1,000 pupils from Shetland to Caerphilly have participated, and over 70 teachers from 50 different schools in the maintained sector have signed up to the online platform in order to access the project resources. Education Scotland has rolled two FIDA projects out nationally through Scottish schools, and Professor Ken Muir, adviser to the Scottish Government on educational reform, has publicly cited FIDA as a beacon project. For Jacqueline personally, FIDA has been an opportunity to shift her focus from reporting on issues of sustainability to tackling them through action.