SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

First Chris Freeman Visiting Fellow: Professor Judith Sutz

Judith SutzProfessor Judith Sutz (image: cuadernosdeltaller.com)

Last month, SPRU was delighted to welcome Professor Judith Sutz (Universidad de la República) as the first Chris Freeman Visiting Fellow, with support from the Christopher Freeman Trust. Professor Sutz spent two weeks with SPRU researchers, faculty and students, and contributed to a number of projects and events during her stay.

The Christopher Freeman Trust was established to preserve the legacy of SPRU’s founder through a variety of different activities, including public lectures and a public archive. Throughout his career, Professor Christopher Freeman (known to all as ‘Chris’) sought to understand the nature of and mechanisms driving technological change. In so doing, he paid close attention to the roles of institutions, economic structures and organisations. Technology for development was a particular research area to which Chris Freeman produced an impressive body of work, which continues to inform and motivate generations of scholars.

Developmental Universities event(L-R) Professor Sutz, Professor Arocena, Professor Carlota Perez, Professor Luc Soete and Mr Arthur Gomes

Professor Sutz accepted the Chris Freeman Visiting Fellowship from Professor Johan Schot (Director of SPRU). She described Chris Freeman’s work as being ‘a constant source of inspiration'. At the Universidad de le República, Uruguay, she inaugurated the teaching of science, technology and society. Her research focuses on the specific conditions for innovation and knowledge production, and their social uses, in developing countries. She is the author of more than 100 publications on topics including science and technology policy, innovation systems in Latin America, social inclusion and inclusive innovation, and innovation systems in small countries.  

The Visiting Fellowship initiative is an exciting opportunity for intellectual exchange. In her time here, Professor Sutz participated in the annual SPRU PhD Forum, contributing to an expert panel on ‘Transformative Policies for Inclusive Structural Change.’ She also presented her research findings for the International Panel for Social Progress (IPSP), as part of a special event with fellow authors from the IPSP report, Rethinking Society for the 21st Century (published by Cambridge University Press).

Another key aspect of Professor Sutz’s research is university reform and the role of universities in knowledge creation. This area of her work has resulted in a new publication, Developmental Universities in Inclusive Innovation Systems: Alternatives for Knowledge Democratization in the Global South (published by Palgrave Macmillan). A special event was hosted by SPRU to mark the launch of this new book. Professor Sutz, with co-author Professor Rodrigo Arocena (Universidad de la República), introduced the book and were joined by an expert panel to discuss this fascinating topic.

Professor Schot made the following comment about the Fellowship and Professor Sutz:

‘Chris Freeman’s career embodied the economics of hope he advocated. His message was of our potential to direct innovation, creativity and new technologies towards what we may call human flourishing and development.

It is in this spirit that we asked Judith Sutz to come to SPRU as the first Chris Freeman Visiting Fellow, and we were delighted to host her, to share with her and learn from her.’

Professor Sutz made the following statement on her experience at SPRU as the Christopher Freeman Visiting Fellow:

When SPRU invited me as a Chris Freeman Visiting fellow, I felt overwhelmed. Besides the honour related to SPRU’s well-deserved fame, the feeling was related to Chris Freeman himself. I feel the deepest admiration for Chris, a man that incarnated wisdom, commitment and hope. Particularly, I am grateful for his intellectual work, a powerful tool to think about development and underdevelopment.

Johan Schot's invitation to come to SPRU under this Fellowship was accompanied by a fascinating working agenda, one that was complemented by rich, informal talks with students, researchers and the people that provided invaluable support to every detail of the stay. The agenda included participating, but more importantly, listening to presentations in the International Panel on Social Progress round-table, and the PhD students day. We got extremely valuable observations and questions from the commentators and the audience after Rodrigo Arocena and I presented our book, which we wrote with Bo Goransson, on Developmental Universities in Inclusive innovation Systems. 

Researchers in the South are accustomed to reading; face-to-face exchanges are not so frequent. It is one thing is to read and quite another is to talk about concepts, frameworks, facts, trends. During our stay at SPRU we had the opportunity to discuss at length the ideas involved in the concepts of 'deep transitions' and 'transformative change', to refine our understanding of what was involved, to share our concerns regarding the extent to which such conceptualizations may apply to the Global South and to discover that these concepts may be much more useful than we thought beforehand. A fruitful working agenda took shape for the future.

Besides all that, the beauty of the landscape we saw in our daily bus travel to the university was a joy we will not forget.

More information

For a detailed report on the discussion from the book event, read the report from Arthur Gomes (PhD Researcher at SPRU).

Listen to a recording of the event (with slides) here [YouTube].

For more information about the work of the Christopher Freeman Trust, visit the website, where you will also find information about and tributes to Chris Freeman.