UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Dr Jason Blackstock

Associate Professor


Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
1st Jan 2013

Research summary

Dr Blackstock’s teaching, research and policy engagements span the broad intersection of science, technology and engineering with society and public decision-making. Throughout all facets of his work, Dr Blackstock endeavours to build strong, innovative connections between academic, policy and practitioner communities.
One facet of his work examines the policy challenges and opportunities generated by emerging technologies, and supports policy communities with developing adaptive governance approaches and tools for managing them. Current examples include exploration of emerging digital technologies (e.g. as co-lead of the Standards, Policy and Governance stream of the UK’s PETRAS Internet of Things research hub with Dr Madeilne Carr) and climate engineering technologies (e.g. as lead editor of the online Geoengineering our Climate working paper series and forthcoming Earthscan volume of the same title).
Leveraging his technology development experience, a second facet examines and experiments with modes of harnessing and directing societies’ tremendous scientific and technological capabilities towards addressing broad societal challenges. Of his current work on such Public Interest Innovation, the most visible and impactful are his ongoing leadership of How to Change the World at UCL and its’ expansion to other setting and institutions, alongside his work with the Global Solutions Initiative and Summit.

A third facet explores how evidence and expertise can be effectively mobilised in support of better public decision-making, at multiple scales, in situations of complexity and deep uncertainty. Current examples include the examining how expertise and evidence are mobilised in international contexts (e.g. through research workshops on science diplomacy); in national democratic legislatures (e.g. as Principal Investigator of the ESRC-funded programme of research into evidence use in the UK Parliament); and in city contexts (e.g. though the informed cities project of the UCL City Leadership Lab).


Dr Jason Blackstock has a unique background spanning quantum physics research, Silicon Valley technology development, international public policy, and higher education innovation and leadership. He is an internationally respected educator, scholar and policy adviser on the interfaces between science, technology and engineering with society and public decision-making.

In 2013 he joined University College London to co-found the globally unique Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (UCL STEaPP), and then led through the department through its’ formative years as Head of Department (2013-2018). He is also the co-creator (with Prof John Mitchell) and Course Director of the internationally recognised How to Change the World programme, which runs every June for over 700 students as the capstone course of the first two years of UCL’s Integrated Engineering Programme.

Dr Blackstock has taught and led research and policy programmes at renowned universities and think tanks such as Harvard, Oxford, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. He has co-authored over 70 academic and policy publications and 10 patents; given over 100 invited talks and policy briefings across six continents; led more than a dozen international academic and policy conferences; and led or contributed to over half-a-dozen policy-oriented international science assessments. He is currently a Future World Fellow of the IE Centre for the Governance of Change and a Distinguished Fellow of UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education, and serves as a board member or advisor for numerous networks and organisations, currently including MIT's Institute for Data, Systems & Society, the Carbon X-Prize, We Make Change and The Fourth Group.