Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU)
Tel: +44 1273 876581
In December 2011, James joined the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, as Professor of Science and Democracy.
James is also Director of The Nexus Network, a new ESRC-funded initiative, which aims to foster joined-up thinking, policy & practice on food, energy, water and the environment.
Since September 2013, he has been Chair of the Campaign for Social Science, which works to make the case for UK social science with policymakers, the media and the wider public.
James was recently appointed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to chair an independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment, which will report in 2015. More details about the review process can be found here.
His research interests include the role of evidence & expertise in policymaking; the politics and practice of scientific advice; interdisciplinarity, particularly between natural and social sciences; science and innovation policy in the UK and China; the social science of the 'nexus'; and public engagement in research. James is also Co-Convenor of SPRU's MSc programme in Science and Technology Policy.
From 2008 to 2011, James was founding Director of the Science Policy Centre at the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of sciences, where he coordinated a series of influential studies on topics such as geoengineering, food security, science diplomacy and open science. James also led the Royal Society's evidence gathering and advocacy for investment in research through the 2010 UK General Election and Spending Review.
Prior to this, he spent several years at the public policy think tank Demos, first as Head of Strategy (2001-04), then as Head of Science and Innovation (2004-08). At Demos, he was also director of The Atlas of Ideas, a two-year study described by the Financial Times as ‘the most comprehensive analysis yet of science and innovation in China, India and South Korea.’ From 2006 to 2008, James was a part-time Senior Research Fellow at Lancaster University's Institute for Advanced Studies. From 1997 to 2001, he was Senior Policy Adviser at Forum for the Future.
James researched and written widely on science and innovation policy. His main publications include China's Absorptive State: research, innovation and the prospects for China-UK collaboration (Nesta, 2013); Future Directions for Scientific Advice in Whitehall (CSaP/Alliance for Useful Evidence, 2013); The Scientific Century (Royal Society, 2010), New frontiers in science diplomacy (Royal Society, 2010), The Atlas of Ideas (Demos, 2007), China: the next science superpower? (Demos, 2007), The Public Value of Science (Demos, 2005), See-through Science (Demos, 2004) and Digital Futures (Earthscan, 2001).
James is an Associate Fellow at the University of Cambridge's Centre for Science and Policy; a member of the Governing Council of the Science and Democracy Network; a member of Research Councils UK's Advisory Panel on Public Engagement with Research; and a member of the Governing Board of CISTRAT (International Research and Training Centre for Science and Technology Strategy) in Beijing, a new centre established under the auspices of UNESCO and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology. He currently serves as a member of a US National Academies expert panel on the globalisation of science and technology.
James took his first degree in philosophy and theology at Oxford University, followed by a master's degree in sustainable development and a doctorate in technology policy from Middlesex University.
He has written for the Financial Times, Times Higher Education, Nature, China Daily, Green Futures, OpenDemocracy and Renewal. James is also part of the blogging team on the Guardian's 'Political Science' blog, and you can often find him on twitter @jameswilsdon.