The Professorship in Science and Civilization is Oxford’s foremost academic post in the study of the social implications of scientific and technological change. The post-holder leads the University’s research efforts on the social and cultural transformations brought about by contemporary science and technology, and informs key policy debates on the governance of innovation. The Chair in Science and Civilization is a senior member of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and of the Oxford Martin School.
The pace and intensity of scientific advance and rapid social and environmental change are together throwing up both unanticipated risks and unexpected opportunities across a range of economic, social, and cultural domains. Contemporary science and technology are revealing new connections between disparate regions and cultures, at the same time as they create new fractures and divisions. The social sciences, and anthropology in particular, have a unique and vital contribution to make in discussions about the causes, trajectories, and consequences of these transformations, which are so important for the future of humanity.
The University of Oxford is home to a thriving community of researchers and students investigating these transformations. Since the establishment in 2003 of the Chair in Science and Civilization, its holder, Steve Rayner, has been a leading voice in international academic and policy debates about the proper governance of scientific and technological change. Steve has also been a successful fundraiser for the University, generating substantial research funding to support new research programmes on the Future of Cities, Climate Geoengineering Governance, and the Implications of Science and Technology for Inequality, to name a few examples. Today, the University of Oxford is an internationally recognized hub of scholarship in the field of science and technology studies (STS), generating research, teaching, and advocacy with global reach.
The Chair in Science and Civilization exists thanks to an undertaking made by James Martin, the philanthropist who established the Oxford Martin School. Unfortunately that funding ceases when Steve Rayner retires. Therefore, the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography is seeking funding to endow the Chair from 2021 onwards in order to continue and build on the excellent work that been done in InSIS since its foundation in 2003.