SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Science, Politics and Decision Making

Whether it’s President Obama pledging to “restore science to its rightful place” or President Xi Jinping calling for “innovation with Chinese characteristics”, the emphasis that leaders place on science and technology makes designing effective policies a priority worldwide. At the same time, scientific advice to inform policymaking is in high demand. From climate change to cyber-security, food technologies to fracking, controversies continue to erupt at the boundaries between science, politics and society.

Our research helps policymakers – and wider democratic debates – to set directions and priorities for science and innovation policy, and enables them to navigate uncertainties and controversies. We apply a deep historical understanding to how the choices made about science and technology shape our societies. SPRU researchers also work on the politics of expertise, and on issues of foresight, research assessment, metrics and impact in today’s research environment. 

A particular focus of our work is the governance and policy challenges surrounding chemical and biological weapons, including issues of dual-use technology. The Harvard Sussex Program, co-hosted at SPRU for over 25 years, uses technology as the lens through which to view issues of conflict and vulnerability, and understand forms of innovation that arise from the security landscape. 

For further information please contact:

Dr Caitriona McLeish  (Harvard Sussex Programme)