Retirement of Professor Robin Grove-White
The retirement of Robin Grove-White, Professor of Environment and Society in the Institute for Environment, Philosophy and Public Policy (IEPPP) was marked by an event which saw academics, policymakers and representatives of non-governmental organisations gathered at Lancaster University to discuss the cultural politics of the global knowledge economy last month.
Professor Grove-White joined the university in 1989 after fifteen years of involvement at the highest level of UK environmental politics, including a period as Director of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, and as Chair of Greenpeace UK.
In 1991, Professor Grove-White and Professor Brian Wynne founded the Centre for the Study of Environmental Change (CSEC) at Lancaster, which rapidly established an international reputation for a distinctive form of ‘public sociology’ in the area of environment and technology. combining independent empirical and theoretical research, with close interactions with ‘user’ organisations and novel policy interventions. In 2000 CSEC merged with the Department of Philosophy to form IEPPP.
Speakers at the gathering included Michael Jacobs (economic advisor to the Chancellor of the Exchequer), Professor Malcolm Grant (Provost of University College London and Chair of the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission), Sheila Jasanoff (Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government), Professor Bob Jessop (Sociology, Lancaster), and Dr James Wilsdon (Head of Strategy, Demos).
A special dinner was held to celebrate Professor Grove-White’s achievements over thirty years in environmental politics. Dr Bronislaw Szerszynski, organiser of the event said: “it was inspiring to see the esteem in which Robin is held by his peers, including many influential players in the policy world and leading figures in the sociology of the environment”.
The event (organised by CSEC and funded by the ESRC Science in Society Programme, the ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, the Lancaster Environment Centre and Lancaster University’s Faculty of Social Sciences) also had a more forward-looking agenda, one which promises to carry forward the CSEC tradition of selecting an on-going, live issue as a prism for exploring inadequacies in the dominant vocabularies employed in policy worlds.