Abertay University has awarded an honorary degree to Scottish social commentator and hip-hop artist Darren McGarvey at its winter graduation ceremony held at the end of November.
Darren McGarvey, also known by his stage name “Loki”, joined over 400 graduands for the ceremony at Caird Hall in Dundee on Friday 24 November 2023.
McGarvey is a prominent figure in Scottish public life, renowned for his insightful commentary on social issues and his contributions to the music scene. His work is known for exploring themes of inequality, poverty, and the complex issues facing contemporary society.
His debut book Poverty Safari was released to critical acclaim in 2017, later winning the prestigious Orwell Prize for political writing. A follow-up, The Social Distance Between Us, was published in 2022 to similar praise. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature earlier this year.
In addition to his writing, McGarvey has also made a significant contribution to the world of broadcasting, producing numerous programmes for BBC Scotland exploring the root causes of anti-social behaviour and social deprivation. His 2022 series Addictions best Factual Series at the BAFTA Scotland Awards last November.
Earlier this year, the University hosted a sold-out performance of McGarvey's 'The Social Distance Between Us' tour. Ahead of the show, McGarvey engaged in a discussion with a cohort of Abertay’s Sociology students, delving into various subjects such as poverty, politics, and the concept of 'class'.
Abertay University Principal Professor Liz Bacon said:
Through his words and music, Darren McGarvey has demonstrated a commitment to challenging societal norms and fostering positive change. Using his platform, he has worked tirelessly to deepen our understanding of the challenges faced by individuals and communities across the country, shedding light on the profound impact of deprivation and addiction. His work aligns perfectly with our commitment to social justice through transformative education and I’m looking forward to welcoming him to the Abertay family next week.
Receiving his honorary degree, McGarvey told students:
I have this voice in my head all the time telling me that I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing, that I don’t deserve to do well. The only saving grace I have in life is that I have developed a resilience to ignore my own thoughts maybe 95% of the time! If you have a brain like mine, and it’s stopping you from doing the things you want to do in life, then it’s time to challenge your own thoughts as they might be the main barrier standing between you and your aspirations.
The ceremony also honoured Murray Shaw, former Chair of Abertay's Court, the governing body of the University. With a distinguished career spanning nearly four decades as a solicitor, Murray was conferred the title of Honorary Fellow for his decade-long service to Abertay.
Abertay alumni and married couple, Kathryn (Katie) and Andrew Howie, were also inducted as Honorary Fellows during the ceremony. Since 2009, the couple has devoted themselves to charitable efforts in Dundee, providing hot food and soup to the homeless, and actively volunteering in charity shops throughout the city.