Science and Security Programme launched

4 March 2013

The RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme is pleased to announce the start of the new £2.1 million Science and Security Programme.

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) Futures and Innovation Domain and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) have commissioned new research to develop greater understanding of how developments in science and technology (S&T) will present opportunities and threats to future UK defence and security.

Research will focus on how the risks to defence and security that emerge from future developments in S&T can better be assessed and addressed and the influence of cultural, historical, ethical, economic and societal factors on how S&T is developed and utilised in future to present opportunities and threats for defence and security.

As part of the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme, this call brings together the activities of the seven UK Research Councils in response to global security challenges. The programme examines the causes of insecurity and how security risks and threats can be predicted, prevented and managed.

The research will have the potential to provide new insights on the development, perception, use and dissemination of S&T within different cultures and societies, and the implications for UK defence, security and risk management.

Successful grant holders are:

Research Integrator

  • Professor Stuart Croft, University of Warwick - Science and Security: Research Impact and Co-Production of Knowledge

Research Grants

  • Professor David Denney, Royal Holloway, University of London - The Current and Future Use of Social Media Technologies (SMT) on Military Personnel and their Families
  • Professor Brian Rappert, University of Exeter - The Formulation and Non-formulation of Security Concerns: Preventing the Destructive Application of the Life Sciences
  • Professor Guglielmo Verdirame, King's College London - SNT Really Makes Reality: Technological Innovation, Non-Obvious Warfare and the Challenges to International Law
  • Dr Sarah Maltby, City University - Defence, Uncertainty, Now Media (D.U.N): Mapping Social Media in Strategic Communications
  • Professor Mary Kaldor, London School of Economics & Political Science - Strategic Governance of Science and Technology Pathways to Security
  • Professor David Galbreath, University of Bath - Biochemical security 2030 - towards improved science-based multilevel governance
  • Professor Nicholas Wheeler, University of Birmingham - The Political Effects of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles on Conflict and Cooperation within and between States
  • Dr Andrew James, The University of Manchester - Science and technology in the service of the State: Understanding mission-oriented research systems in a changing world
  • Dr Michael Bourne, Queen's University of Belfast - HANDHOLD: Science, Security and Power in Action

ESRC Chief Executive Paul Boyle said: "This Programme provides an excellent opportunity for social science, arts and humanities research to play a role in developing a greater understanding of how developments in S&T might present risks to future UK defence and security".

Dstl Futures and Innovation Domain Leader, Mel Murphy said: "This Programme will enable the future challenges facing defence and security to be assessed from a strong trans-disciplinary perspective. We are delighted that the collaboration between Dstl and the Global Uncertainties Programme has enabled us to harness excellence across UK academia to benefit defence and security while maximising the efficient use of research funds."

AHRC's Associate Director of Programmes Gary Grubb said "This Programme has provided a welcome opportunity for arts and humanities researchers to undertake cross-disciplinary research critically reflecting on the legal and ethical dimensions and assumptions surrounding scientific and technological innovation and will make a valuable contribution to AHRC's Science in Culture theme as well as to the cross-Council Global Uncertainties Programme"

For further information contact:

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors

  1. The RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme runs from 2008 to 2018. ESRC is leading the programme on behalf of RCUK, which currently supports a £180 million portfolio of research and activities relevant to Global Uncertainties. For further information, please visit the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme website.
  2. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's total budget for 2012/13 is £205 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes.
  3. The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) maximises the impact of science and technology (S&T) for the defence and security of the UK, supplying sensitive and specialist S&T services for the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and wider government. It starts from the presumption that work should be conducted by external suppliers unless there is a clear reason for it to be done or led by Dstl. At present, around 60 per cent of the approximately £400 million MOD non-nuclear defence research programme, managed through Dstl, goes to industry and academia to deliver. Dstl is a trading fund of the MOD, run along commercial lines. It is one of the principal government organisations dedicated to S&T in the defence and security field
  4. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.
  5. Dstl is supporting this joint research call as a contribution to the MOD's Futures and Innovation Programme, in the strategic assessment of the defence and security impact of emerging technology (DIET). This is an enduring multi-theme initiative created in response to the Strategic Defence and Security Review. This initiative is also timely, in that it marks the importance of people in the defence and security function of government. This is well set out in various government strategic documents such as the National Security Strategy, the Strategic Defence and Security Review, and the National Risk Assessment/Register.
  6. In reporting the recent Blackett Review of High Impact Low Probability Risks, the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser has highlighted that government departments should engage relevant external expertise, including independent academic expertise from a wide range of disciplines, to inform risk assumptions, judgments and analyses. This initiative should be seen within that context, and also by reference to the broader social and policy agendas raised by the objectives of human security - as set out, for instance, in the A Human Security Doctrine for Europe, Barcelona Report, for Javier Solana. As recognised in much emerging military doctrine - and also underscored in the Blackett Review - conventional security agendas are now significantly altered and extended by non-traditional issues like climate change.
  7. The RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme focuses on six core areas:
    • ideologies and beliefs
    • terrorism
    • transnational organised crime
    • cyberscurity
    • threats to infrastructres
    • profileration of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) weapons and technologies