The Centre for the Study of Environmental Change was established in 1991 by the partnership of a London-based environmental activist, Robin Grove-White, and Lancaster University’s Professor of Science and Technology Studies (STS), Brian Wynne. Their object was to establish a research centre that could combine the critical aspects of STS with the activism and political insight needed to understand and intervene in contemporary environmental problems and policies. In the 1990s CSEC built up a substantial group of researchers passionately interested in environmental politics, but who also treated environmental issues as sociological, cultural, philosophical phenomena. Since then, CSEC researchers have worked on:

  • Climate change
  • Nature and capital in crisis
  • Biodiversity loss, databases and the archiving of nature
  • Energy generation, use and demand
  • Geoengineering
  • The promises of genomics
  • Participatory democracy
  • Sustainability and unsustainability
  • Techno-innovation: how and for whom?
  • Food systems and alternative agri-food networks
  • New Social Movements and environmental politics
  • Waste and human subjectivities
  • Reflexive modernity
  • Rethinking environmental governance
  • Conflicts over basic human resources (food, energy, water)

CSEC researchers were pioneers in creating a socially constructivist position on nature and the environment while seeking to intervene in and improve the quality of environmental debates. Since 1991 they have brought expertise to debates on nuclear waste, sustainability, climate change, GM crops, and biodiversity. Informed by a distinctly qualitative, interpretive, sociological understanding of what is at stake in contemporary environmental issues, movements and politics, CSEC has remained at the forefront of research that combines rigorous critical thinking with a commitment to intervening in contemporary environmental debates.