Professor Susan Owens

MA, PhD, ScD (h.c.), OBE, FBA, FAcSS, HonMRTPI

Fellow Emerita

Photo of Professor Susan Owens

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  • Fellow Emerita



Photo of Professor Susan Owens


Susan Owens 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 also worked extensively on interpretations of sustainable development in theory and practice, and has been interested in connections between environmental planning conflicts (especially those concerned with contentious technologies and infrastructures) and developments in wider domains of public policy. She has supervised many PhD students on environmental and science/policy topics. She was appointed an OBE in 1998 and was a recipient of the Royal Geographical Society’s ‘Back’ Award in 2000. She holds an Honorary Professorship at the University of Copenhagen. 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, Stockholm, in 2012.

Research Interests

Environmental governance: science and politics; role of knowledge and expert advice in policy formation and change; environmental planning processes as sites of conflict and policy evolution.

Current and recent projects

Knowledge, Policy and Expertise: ongoing, extended analysis of the practices and influence of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) during a formative period for environmental politics and policy formation, 1970-2011. Originally funded by Leverhulme Trust and RCEP, drawing upon in-depth interviews, archival work, documentary analysis and personal experience of membership of the Commission. See Journal of Environmental Law (2012); Global Environmental Change (2010); and chapter in Lentsch and Weingart (eds) (2011) below.

Modelling Futures: Understanding Risk and Uncertainty: the Mellon-Sawyer Seminar, 2009-10 (co-convened with D. Spiegelhalter and others, through Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities [CRASSH], University of Cambridge). Series of public lectures, workshops and final international conference exploring issues of risk and uncertainty in an interdisciplinary environment.