August 18, 2010

Freeman obituary

From The Times, August 18, 2010, p. 54:

Professor Christopher Freeman
Expert on the social and economic consequences of developments in science and technology

Christopher Freeman won international recognition for his innovative work on the social and economic context of science and technology. In 1966 he accepted an invitation from Professor Asa Briggs, then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sussex, to be the founding director of the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at that university. Under Freeman’s leadership SPRU became one of the foremost groups in the world undertaking studies of how societies can maximise the benefits from science and technology while minimising their harmful effects.

From the outset Freeman recognised the importance of building interdisciplinary research teams to undertake this work and always tried to employ both physical and social scientists to study particular issues. He was committed to studying science and technology policy in a global context, encompassing both industrialised and developing countries. During his tenure as director of SPRU, 1966-80, he considerably expanded the scope of SPRU’s research and introduced masters’ and doctoral programmes in science and technology policy and in technology and innovation management. After standing down as director, he continued to contribute to SPRU’s research and teaching activities, and in 2001 the University of Sussex named a building after him (the “Freeman Centre”). This now acts as an international focus for the activities he started so modestly in 1966.

Freeman was a quiet, effective, inspirational leader, commanding loyalty from his colleagues and the support of many funding agencies. He took a great interest in the research of postgraduate students. Indeed there can be few science and technology policy groups in the world which have not benefited in some way from his inspiration as a mentor, lecturer and teacher.

Professor Christopher Freeman, science policy guru, was born on September 11, 1921. He died on August 16, 2010, aged 88

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