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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Professor Phil Macnaghten

Professor in the Department of Geography

Contact Professor Phil Macnaghten (email at


Phil Macnaghten is a human geographer with broad interests in the governance of science and technology, responsible innovation, the sociology of the environment, deliberative methodology and discourse analysis. His early research focused on the cultural dimensions of environmental policy and their intersection with everyday practice. He developed a form of engaged scholarship, combining conceptual work with critical policy development in the domains of rural policy, sustainability policy, technology policy, forestry policy and environmental behaviour change. This work has been taken forward in recent years through an Institute of Advanced Studies project: 'New storylines for living with environmental change: citizens’ perspectives' (2011 - 2012).

More recently, Phil has worked on the governance of emerging technology and societal engagement. This includes the ESRC study on nanotechnology and upstream public engagement (2004 - 2006), and the European DEEPEN project (Deepening Ethical Engagement and Participation in Emerging Technologies) (2006 - 2009). The DEEPEN project constituted Europe's leading consortium on the ethical dimensions of emerging nanotechnologies and their implications for civil society, governance and scientific practice. The research contributed to the philosophy that underpins two European initiatives: (1) the European Code of Conduct for Responsible Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies Research Initiative and its emphasis on responsible development and anticipatory governance; and (2) the Responsible Research and Innovation Initiative and its emphasis on embedding broader societal goals into the practice of science itself. The research further contributed to UK national policy initiatives on synthetic biology, geoengineering and responsible innovation. This work has led to an on-going research project for the UK research councils designing a 'draft framework for responsible innovation'.

Phil was Founding Director of the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (IHRR) (2006 - 2008), a Demos Associate (2004 - 2008), a Visiting Professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil (2009), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (2008 - ), a member of the UK’s EPSRC’s Societal Issues Panel (2010 - 2011), a member of EPSRC’s Strategic Advisory Network (2011 - ) and chair of the Stagegate panel of the RCUK-funded Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE) project. He has recently co-authored (with Richard Owen) a comment piece for Nature, 'Good governance for geoengineering'.

Phil is currently on a two year fellowship, hosted at the Department of Science and Technology Policy, Institute of Geosciences, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) until the end of August, 2014.

Research Groups

Research Interests

  • Governance of science and technology
  • Responsible innovation
  • Deliberative methodology
  • Sociology of environment
  • Narrative and discourse analysis
  • Brazilian society

Indicators of Esteem

  • 2011: Chair: Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering (SPICE) Stagegate Panel (2011 - 2012)
  • 2011: Member: EPSRC's Cross-Disciplinary Interface Panel
  • 2011: Member: EPSRC's Strategic Advisory Network
  • 2010: Member: EPSRC's Societal Issues panel
  • 2010: Member: ESRC and EPSRC's Energy and Communities Collaborative Venture Panel
  • 2010: Member: EPSRC's Nanotechnology Grand Challenges 3 Panel
  • 2009: Vice-Chair: ESRC Sustainable Behaviours Research Centre Panel
  • 2008: Member: RCUK Nanotechnology Strategic Advisory Team

Selected Publications

Journal papers: academic

Books: authored

Books: edited

Books: sections

  • Owen, R., Macnaghten, P., Stilgoe, J., Gorman, M., Fisher, E. & Guston, D. Dimensions of responsible innovation. In: Owen, R., Bessant, J. & Heitz, M. Responsible Innovation. Oxford: Wiley; 2013:27–50.
  • Sykes, K. & Macnaghten, P. Opening up dialogue and debate. In: Owen, R., Bessant, J. & Heitz, M. Responsible Innovation. Oxford: Wiley; 2013:85–107.
  • Guivant, J. & Macnaghten, P. Breaking the consensus: a perspective on technological governance from Brazil. In: Zülsdorf, T., Coenen, C. Fiedeler, U., Ferrari, A., Milburn, C. & Wienroth, M. Quantum Engagements: Social reflections of nanoscience and emerging technologies. IOS Press; 2012.
  • Macnaghten, P. & Chilvers, J. Governing risky technologies. In: Lane, S., Klauser, F. & Kearnes, M. Risk Research: Practices, Politics and Ethics. Wiley Blackwell; 2012:99-124.
  • Macnaghten, P. Le rapport humain-animal et l'invocation de la nature [Humans, animals and the timely appeal to nature]. In: A. Dubied, J., Staszak, D., Gerber, E. & Gouabault, J. Fall Aux Frontières de L’Animal: Mises en Scenes e Réflexivité. Drox: Genevé; 2012:56-172.
  • Macnaghten, P. & Guivant, J. Nanotechnology, governance and public engagement: a comparative approach. In: Miller, C., Barben, D. & Emily, M. Yearbook of Nanotechnology in Society, Volume 4: Nanotechnology and democracy. Springer; 2012.
  • Macnaghten, P. From Bio to Nano: Learning the lessons, Interrogating the comparison. In: Thompson, P. What Can Nano Learn from Bio? Social and Ethical Lessons for Nanoscience from the Debate over Agrifood Biotechnology and GMOs. Academic Press; 2009.
  • Davies, S., Kearnes, M. & Macnaghten, P. Nanotechnology and public engagement: a new kind of (social) science? In: Kjolberg, K. & Wickson, F. Nano goes Macro: Social Perspectives on Nano Sciences and Technologies. Pan Standford Publishing; 2009.
  • Macnaghten, P. Nanotechnology, risk and public perceptions. In: Cutter, A. & Gordijn, B. In Pursuit of NanoEthics: Transatlantic Perspectives in Nanotechnology. Springer; 2009.
  • Macnaghten, P. Risk and the Environment. In: Mythen, G. Beyond the Risk Society,. London: Routledge; 2006.
  • Macnaghten, P. Nature, embodiment and social theory. In: Delanty, G. Handbook of European Social Theory. London: Routledge; 2005.
  • Macnaghten, P. Towards the progressive governance of nanotechnologies: developing the role of social sciences. In: Santos, M., Vogt, C., de Franca, J. & Guivant, J. Ciencia, Technologia e Sociedade: Novos modelos de governance. Brasilia: CGEE; 2005:185-215.
  • Macnaghten, P. & Myers, G. Focus Groups: The Moderator's View and the Analyst's View. In: Gobo, G., Gubrium, J., Seale, C. & Silverman, D. Qualitative Research Practice. London: Sage; 2004.
  • Macnaghten, P. Trees. In: Harrison, S., Pile, S. & Thrift, N. Patterned Ground: ecologies and geographies of nature and culture. London: Reaktion; 2004:232-234.

Edited works: journals

  • Nordmann, A. & Macnaghten, P. Engaging narratives and the limits of lay ethics. NanoEthics, 4 (2): Springer; 2010.
  • Kearnes, M. & Macnaghten, P. Nanotechnology: risk, rhetoric and imagination. Science as Culture, 15 (4): 2006.
  • Macnaghten, P. & Urry, J. Bodies of Nature. Body and Society, 4 (3 & 4): Sage; 2000.

Reports: official

  • Stilgoe, J., Owen, R. & Macnaghten, P. An Outline Framework for Responsible Innovation: Taking care of the future through collective stewardship of science and innovation in the present. 2012.
  • Chilvers, J. & Macnaghten, P. The Future of Science Governance: A review of public concerns, governance and institutional response. 2011;1-37.
  • Davies, S., Macnaghten, P. & Kearnes, M Reconfiguring Responsibility: Deepening debate on nanotechnology. 2009;1-69.

Show all publications

Selected Grants

  • 2012: Understanding the social, cultural and religious (£92110.64 from John Templeton Foundation)
  • 2011: Public attitudes to climate engineering (£5000.00 from Epsrc)
  • 2011: Responsible Innocation Framework (£4761.00 from Esrc)
  • 2006: DEEPEN (£259264.00 from European Commission)
  • 2006: HOW TO ENGAGE 21ST CENTURY CUSTOMERS (£18280.00 from Unilever UK CR)