UCL News


UCL to celebrate legacy of 'the father' of British science journalism

13 June 2005

JG Crowther, Britain 's very first official science correspondent, is the subject of a one-day symposium at University College London (UCL) on Friday 17 June, that will bring together scientists and Crowther experts from around Europe to explore his rich legacy.

It was in the 1920s that JG Crowther started a new journalistic 'beat' by persuading the Manchester Guardian that science deserved its own correspondent. Firmly committed to what is now called 'public understanding of science', Crowther - appalled by the 'mad scientists' of popular fiction and film - wanted to give the public a clear window into the scientific enterprise.

Crowther's 50-year career in journalism included long relationships with Nature and New Scientist as well as the Guardian, and his many popular books brought new developments in science and technology and their social and political significance to a wide readership. Crowther was also one of the founding fathers of the Association of British Science Writers, and was one of the four people present at the ABSW's inaugural meeting in 1947.

He admired the Soviet system of planning for science and technology, and believed that strong relations between science and the wider society were vital for the welfare and prosperity of the nation. During World War II, as Director of Science for the British Council, he furthered international links between scientists, which he thought could be a model for peace and cooperation between nations.

Crowther continued his work in journalism and popular books into the 1970s, and became a key figure in debates about science and society. Now historians of science are exploring how Crowther, who abandoned his own scientific education before graduating, became a powerful and lasting influence in the scientific community.

Dr Jane Gregory, of the UCL Department of Science & Technology Studies, said: "The media provide an important and lively forum for the discussion of scientific issues in the UK . JG Crowther can take a lot of the credit for making that possible. By recognising that, and understanding how he did it, we can learn a lot about science and society in Britain ."

Notes for Editors

1. For more information on the symposium, or if you wish to attend, please contact Jane Gregory on 020 7679 2094.

2. For a photo of JG Crowther, please contact Dominique Fourniol in the UCL media relations office on 020 7679 9728 or d.fourniol@ucl.ac.uk.