Professor Steve Rayner (1953-2020)

21 January 2020

Oxford Martin School Century of Challenges by John Cairns 7 2 58
The Oxford Martin School is deeply saddened by the death of Professor Steve Rayner, following a long illness.

Steve was the James Martin Professor of Science and Civilization, and the Founding Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society.

With intellectual contributions ranging widely across academic fields and global challenges, Steve played a highly significant role in the growth and development of the Oxford Martin School from its founding in 2005. He was part of the leadership of numerous Oxford Martin School programmes, including the Future of Cities Programme, the Oxford Geoengineering Programme and the Oxford Martin Programme on Transboundary Resource Management, which launched in 2019. He was a Professorial Fellow of Keble College.

Steve served on a number of US, UK, and international bodies addressing science, technology and the environment, including the UK’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Royal Society’s Working Group on Climate Geoengineering. Steve was particularly active in advocating for pragmatic solutions with regard to climate change, and in recognition of his work in this area the Breakthrough Institute announced him as the winner of the 2020 Breakthrough Paradigm Award only a few weeks ago. Their announcement started with the telling phrase, “it has long been a rule of thumb at the Breakthrough Institute that if something is worth saying about climate change, Steve Rayner said it 25 years ago.”

Trained as a political anthropologist (PhD University College London 1980), Steve described himself as an ‘undisciplined’ scholar, committed to changing the world through social science. He was a highly active, generous and profoundly valued member of the Oxford Martin School community, and will be deeply missed by all who knew him.