Scientizing the ‘environment’: Solly Zuckerman and the idea of the School of Environmental Sciences

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In 1960 Sir Solly Zuckerman proposed the idea of an interdisciplinary department of ‘environmental sciences’ (ENV) for the newly established University of East Anglia (UEA). Prior to this point, the concept of ‘environmental sciences’ was little known: since then, departments and degree courses have rapidly proliferated through universities and colleges around the globe. This paper draws on archival research to explore the conditions and contexts that led to the proposal of a new and interdisciplinary grouping of sciences by Zuckerman. It argues that the activities of Zuckerman and other scientists in Britain during the Second World War and in the post-war period helped to create fertile conditions for a new kind of scientific authority to emerge as a tool of governance and source of policy advice. In particular, the specific challenges of post-war Britain – as addressed through scientific advisers and civil servants – led to the ‘environment’ becoming both the subject of sustained scientific study and an object of concern.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal for the History of Science
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Dec 2023

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