photo of James Wilsdon

Prof James Wilsdon

Post:Professor of Science and Democracy (SPRU - Science and Technology Policy Research)
Location:Jubilee Building 388

Telephone numbers
UK:01273 876581
International:+44 1273 876581

Research expertise:
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In December 2011, I joined the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex as Professor of Science and Democracy. I am also an Associate Fellow at the University of Cambridge's Centre for Science and Policy, and Chair of the Campaign for Social Science, which works to raise the profile of UK social science and demonstrate its value to the public, policymakers and the media.

In April 2014, I was appointed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as the Chair of an independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment, which will report in 2015. More details on the review can be found here.

My research interests at SPRU include the role of evidence and expertise in policymaking; the politics of scientific advice; the social science of the nexus (food-energy-water-environment); interdisciplinarity; public engagement in research; science and innovation policy in the UK, China and other emerging economies. I am also Co-Convenor of SPRU's MSc programme in Science and Technology Policy.

From 2008 to 2011, I was founding Director of the Science Policy Centre at the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, where I coordinated a series of influential studies on topics such as geoengineering, food security, science diplomacy, open science, and the prospects for science in the Islamic world. I also led the Royal Society's evidence gathering and advocacy for investment in research through the 2010 UK General Election and subsequent Spending Review.

Prior to this, I was Head of Science and Innovation (2004-2008) and Head of Strategy (2001-2004) at the public policy think tank Demos, and Senior Policy Adviser (1997-2001) at Forum for the Future. At Demos, I was also director of The Atlas of Ideas, a two-year study described by the Financial Times as ‘the most comprehensive analysis yet of science and innovation in China, India and South Korea.’ From 2006 to 2008, I was a part-time Senior Research Fellow at Lancaster University's Institute for Advanced Studies.

I've researched and written widely on science and innovation policy, scientific advice, the governance of new technologies and the globalization of research. My publications include China's Absorptive State: research, innovation and the prospects for China-UK collaboration (Nesta, 2013); Future Directions for Scientific Advice in Whitehall (CSaP/Alliance for Useful Evidence, 2013); The Scientific Century (Royal Society, 2010), New frontiers in science diplomacy (Royal Society, 2010), The Atlas of Ideas (Demos, 2007), China: the next science superpower? (Demos, 2007), The Public Value of Science (Demos, 2005), See-through Science (Demos, 2004) and Digital Futures (Earthscan, 2001).

In September 2012, I joined the Governing Board of CISTRAT (International Research and Training Centre for Science and Technology Strategy) in Beijing, a new centre established under the auspices of UNESCO and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. I am also a member of the Governing Council of the Science and Democracy Network, a member of Research Councils UK's Advisory Panel on Public Engagement with Research; and currently serve as a member of a US National Academies expert panel on the globalisation of science and technology.

I took my first degree in philosophy and theology at Oxford University, followed by a master's degree in sustainable development and a doctorate in technology policy from Middlesex University.

I've written for the Financial Times, Times Higher EducationNature, China Daily, Green Futures, OpenDemocracy and RenewalI am also part of the blogging team on the Guardian's 'Political Science' blog, and you can find me on twitter @jameswilsdon