British Society for Social Responsibility in Science

 Science for People, BSSRS, Wellcome Image Archive
Front cover of 'Science for People' Credit: BSSRS / Wellcome Images

The British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) was the centre of a 'radical science' movement in the 1970s. The society was formed out of a campaign in 1968 against university research on chemical and biological weapons. Some of those who joined in the early days had a previous record of activism against nuclear weapons, through Scientists Against the Bomb, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, or in other left movements.

The launch of BSSRS was supported by 83 distinguished scientists, including 44 Fellows of The Royal Society. Among those initial supporters were Sir William Lawrence Bragg (Physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics, OBE), Francis Harry Compton Crick (Molecular biologist, Physicist, Nobel Prize with Watson for structure of DNA), Sir Julian Sorell Huxley (Evolutionary biologist, Humanist, First Director of UNESCO) and Bertrand Arthur William Russell (Philosopher, Socialist, Pacifist, Logician, Social Critic). Nobel laureate Professor Maurice Wilkins was the founding President.

The main aims of the new society was to explore scientists' individual and collective responsibilities; demonstrate political, social and economic factors affecting science and technology; draw attention to the implications and consequences of scientific development, thereby creating an informed public.

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead has worked at London School of Economics since 1967 and been Professor of Operational Research since 1987. He was active in the BSSRS for 20 years, including a period as Chair.

He is currently Chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP). In December 2010 he was appointed IFORS Distinguished Lecturer for the Association of Asia Pacific Operational Research Societies regional conference. This honour, awarded by the International Federation of Operational Research Societies, recognises distinguished OR scholars. In 2014, he gave the Harold Larnder Memorial Lecture of the Canadian Operational Research Society. From 2000-14 he was advisor to the Venezuelan Minister of Planning and Finance Minister.

In 2016, Jonathan Rosenhead has been invited to contribute to Arts Catalyst's Notes from the Field: Commoning Practices in Art and Science, a multi-faceted project that will investigate the notion of art as a tool or tactic for action with communities, with a focus on projects involving science and technology or driven by ecological concerns.