Professor Susan Owens
Professor of Environment and Policy, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
Associate Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy
"Science and policy interact in complex ways, and a deeper understanding of this relationship is an urgent and non-trivial challenge."
Professor Susan Owens OBE, FBA has researched and published widely in the field of environmental governance. Her current projects are concerned with relations between science and politics, and with the role of argument, evidence, ideas and advice in policy formation and change. She has undertaken an extended study of the role and influence of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, which advised UK governments for over forty years. She has also worked on interpretations of sustainable development in theory and practice, particularly in the context of land use and environmental planning. She has supervised many PhD students on environmental and science–policy topics.
Susan was appointed an OBE in 1998 and was a recipient of the Royal Geographical Society's 'Back' Award in 2000. For the academic year 2008-09 she was the King Carl XVI Gustaf Professor of Environmental Science, hosted by Stockholm University's Resilience Centre and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2011 and received an Honorary Doctorate from KTH in 2012.
Susan is currently a member of Defra’s Hazardous Substances Advisory Committee (HSAC) and the Science Advisory Council of the Stockholm Environment Institute. She has previously served on the Research Committee of ESRC (2007–11), the Council and Research Committee of the Royal Geographical Society (2009-2012), the Science Policy Advisory Group of the Royal Society (2008–13) and Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) (1998–2008). Reports to which she contributed as a member of RCEP include:
- Novel Materials in the Environment: the Case of Nanotechnology (2008)
- The Urban Environment (2007)
- Turning the Tide: Addressing the Impact of Fisheries on the Marine Environment (2004)
- Chemicals in Products: Safeguarding the Environment and Human Health (2002)
- The Environmental Effects of Civil Aircraft in Flight (2002)
- Environmental Planning (2002)
- Energy: The Changing Climate (2000)
She has recently served on ESRC's Research Committee (2007-11) and the Council and Research Committee of the Royal Geographical Society (2009-2012). From 2003-2006, she chaired the Governance Working Group of the European Environmental Advisory Councils (EEAC). Previously, she has been a member of the Steering Group for a review of science in the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the UK Round Table on Sustainable Development and the Countryside Commission. She has advised a number of governmental and non-governmental organisations.