Regius Lecture

Group of people in lecture hall

World-class presenters

In 2013, we were awarded a prestigious Regius Professorship by Her Majesty the Queen for fifty years of excellence in research and education in our outstanding department.

To celebrate this honour, we hold an annual Regius lecture where a world-class scholar in political science comes to Essex to present their work to the University community.

This year's lecture

The 2021 Regius Professorship Lecture is entitled “Following the Science? The Use of Science Advice in Policy” and will be held by Professor Roger Pielke.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

The COVID 19 pandemic has brought to prominence claims that specific policies are “guided by the science” or that policy should “follow the science”. However, it is often not possible to draw a simple or direct line from scientific research to policy implications. In many cases there is considerable uncertainty or disagreement in existing scientific research and knowledge. Policy decisions will also depend on the specific objectives, and different concerns may often be in tension with one another. For many issues, the key values and relative weight that should be given to different priorities are hotly disputed.  

Professor Roger Pielke (University of Colorado) is a leading scholar on the relationship between science and policy, and author of The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics. His book examines how factors such as a lack of consensus over values and greater uncertainty can create challenges in science informing policy, and how distinguishing more clearly between science, policy and politics can allow us to better integrate scientific knowledge and stakeholder concerns in policy decision making. He has been awarded a grant from the US National Science Foundation to compare science advice and policy responses in the COVID 19 pandemic across a range of countries. This lecture will draw on examples from his new research on COVID 19 responses, but it will also consider science advice and policy decision making more generally. 

Prof. Pielke’s lectures will be followed by brief commentaries by two leading experts in science advice and policy, and opportunities for questions from the audience. 

Sir Bernard Jenkin is the MP for Harwich and North Essex (since 1992) and Chairman of the Liaison Committee, which considers general matters relating to the work of select committees in the UK House of Commons. He has written on the lessons for the COVID 19 pandemic and calls for reform of UK policymaking and the civil service. 

Dr Camilla Stoltenberg is Director of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, a research institute and government agency providing advice to national authorities and the public. Norway has had relatively low infection rates and deaths during the COVID 19 pandemic compared to other European countries. 

The event was chaired by Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, Regius Professor of Political Science, University of Essex.

Watch the recording of the event

Professor Roger Pielke

Roger Pielke, Jr. has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder since 2001, where he teaches and writes on a diverse range of policy and governance issues related to science, technology, environment, innovation and sports. Roger is a professor in the  Environmental Studies Program. Roger is currently focusing his research on a NSF-sponsored, 16-country evaluation of science advice in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Roger holds degrees in mathematics, public policy and political science, all from the University of Colorado. In 2012 Roger was awarded an honorary doctorate from Linköping University in Sweden and was also awarded the Public Service Award of the Geological Society of America. In 2006, Roger received the Eduard Brückner Prize in Munich, Germany in 2006 for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research.

Roger has been a Distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan since 2016. From 2019 he has served as a science and economics adviser to Environmental Progress. Roger was a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences from 2001 to 2016. He served as a Senior Fellow of The Breakthrough Institute from 2008 to 2018. In 2007 Roger served as a James Martin Fellow at Oxford University’s Said Business School. Before joining the faculty of the University of Colorado, from 1993 to 2001 Roger was a Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

At the University of Colorado, Roger founded and directed both the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research and the Sports Governance Center. He also created and led the university’s Graduate Certificate Program in Science and Technology Policy, which has seen its graduates move on to faculty positions, Congressional staff, presidential political appointees and in positions in business and civil society.

His books include Hurricanes: Their Nature and Impacts on Society (with R. Pielke Sr., 1997, John Wiley, full text free as PDF), Prediction: Science, Decision Making and the Future of Nature(with D. Sarewitz and R. Byerly, 2001, Island Press), The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics published by Cambridge University Press (2007), The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell you About Global Warming (2010, Basic Books). Presidential Science Advisors: Reflections on Science, Policy and Politics (with R. Klein, 2011, Springer), and The Edge: The War Against Cheating and Corruption in the Cutthroat World of Elite Sports (Roaring Forties Press, 2016). His most recent book is The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change (2nd edition, 2018, Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes).

Previous lectures

Our new Regius Professor

Professor Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, internationally renowned figure in the study of conflict resolution, democratisation and political change, has been appointed as our new Regius Professor of Political Science.

Previously, internationally renowned expert on British politics, Professor David Sanders was appointed the UK's first Regius Professor of Political Science in 2013.

Awarded as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, Essex is one of the youngest universities to receive this award, and one of just two UK universities to receive Regius Professorships in social sciences.


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