Professor Steve Rayner

steve rayner web

James Martin Professor of Science and Civilization

Steve Rayner is James Martin Professor of Science and Civilization at Oxford University’s School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography and Institute for Science, Innovation and Society, where he also co-directs the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities and the Oxford Geoengineering Programme, both supported by the Oxford Martin School. He is also a Senior Fellow at The Breakthrough Institute, a non-partisan environmental NGO based in California’s Bay Area. He previously held senior research positions in two US National Laboratories and has taught at leading US universities, including Cornell, Virginia Tech, and Columbia.

Trained as a political anthropologist (PhD University College London 1980), he describes himself as an 'undisciplined' scholar, committed to changing the world through social science.

He has served on various US, UK, and international bodies addressing science, technology and the environment, including Britain’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Royal Society’s Working Group on Climate Geoengineering. Until 2008, he also directed the national Science in Society Research Programme of the UK Economic and Social Research Council. He is the Founding and General Editor of the Science in Society book series published by Earthscan.

He has received numerous awards, including the 25th Homer N. Calver Award from the Environment Section of the American Public Health Association, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Director’s Award for R&D Excellence and two Martin Marietta Energy Systems Awards for groundbreaking work in risk analysis and global climate change policy analysis respectively. From 2009 to 2014 he was Honorary Professor of Climate Change and Society at the University of Copenhagen. He was also included in the 2008 Smart List by Wired Magazine as 'one of the 15 people the next US President should listen to'. 


Telephone: +44 (0)1865 288938 

Steve Rayner's CV and publications

Selected publications


Scavenius, T. & S. Rayner 2018. Institutional Capacity for Climate Change Response: A New Approach to Climate Politics. Routledge, Abingdon

S. Rayner & M. Caine (eds) 2014 The Hartwell Approach to Climate Policy.  Routledge Earthscan, Abingdon

Rayner, S. & E.L. Malone (eds) 1998. Human Choice and Climate Change:  An International Assessment, 4 Volumes. Battelle Press, Columbus, Ohio


Environment and Planning C: Special Issue on Novel Multi-sector Networks and Entrepreneurship in Urban Climate Governance (guest editors H. Schroeder, S. Burch, S. Rayner), Vol. 37, No. 5, 2013

Environmental Science and Policy, Special Issue on Science, Policy, and Politics: Learning from the Controversy over “The Skeptical Environmentalist”, (guest editors R. A. Pielke Jr & S. Rayner), Vol. 7, No 5, 2004


Horton, J.B., J.L. Reynolds, H.J. Buck, D. Callies, S. Schäfer, D.W.  Keith
S. Rayner (in press) Solar Geoengineering and Democracy, Global Environmental Policy

Koehler, J., S. Rayner, J. Katuva, P. Thompson, R. Hope (in press) A Cultural Theory of Drinking Water Risks, Values, and Institutional Change. Global Environmental Change

Lach, D. & S. Rayner 2017. Are Forecasts Still for Wimps. Journal of the Southwest, 59(1-2): 245-263
Acuto, M. & S. Rayner  2016 City Networks: Breaking Gridlocks or Forging (New) Lock-ins? International Affairs, 92(5): 1147-1166

Rayner, S., C. Heyward, T. Kruger, N. Pidgeon, C. Redgwell, J. Savulescu 2013 The Oxford Principles for Geoengineering Governance. Climatic Change 121(3):499-512

Rayner, S. 2012. Uncomfortable Knowledge in Science and Environmental Policy Discourses. Economy and Society, 41(1):107-125

Rayner, S. 2010. How to Eat an Elephant: A Bottom-up Approach to Climate Policy. Climate Policy, 10(6):615-621

Prins, G. & S. Rayner 2007. Time to Ditch Kyoto. Nature 449:973-975

Rayner, S., H. Ingram, D. Lach 2005. Weather Forecasts Are for Wimps:  Why Water Resource Managers Do Not Use Climate Forecasts. Climatic Change, 69(2-3):197-277

Rayner, S. & E.L. Malone 1997. Zen and the Art of Climate Maintenance. Nature, 390: 332-4

Rayner, S. 1991. A Cultural Perspective on the Structure and Implementation of Global Environmental Agreements. Evaluation Review, 15(1):75-102

Rayner, S. & R. Cantor 1987. How Fair is Safe Enough?: The Cultural Approach to Technology Choice. In Risk Analysis:  An International Journal, 7(1):3-9.

Rayner, S. 1986. Management of Radiation Hazards in Hospitals: Plural Rationalities in a Single Institution. Social Studies of Science, 16(4):573-91.


Rayner, S. & P. Healey 2018. Institutional Challenges of Climate Engineering. In 
Scavenius, T. & S. Rayner 2018. Institutional Capacity for Climate Change Response: A New Approach to Climate Politics. Routledge, Abingdon

Heyward, C., S. Rayner, J. Savulescu 2017. Early Geoengineering Governance: The Oxford Principles. In D. Kaplan & J.B. Callicott (eds) Technology and the Environment, MIT Press, Cambridge MA

Heyward, C., & S. Rayner 2016. Apocalypse Nicked: Stolen Rhetoric in Early Geoengineering Advocacy. In S. Crate & M. Nuttall (eds) Anthropology and Climate Change: from actions to transformations, West Coast Press, Walnut Creek CA

Linner, B-O. & S. Rayner 2015. An Innovation Investment Framework? In K. Bäckstrand & E. Lövbrand, (eds) Research Handbook on Climate Governance. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

Hansson, A., S. Rayner, V.Wibeck 2015. Climate Engineering. In K. Bäckstrand & E. Lövbrand, (eds) Research Handbook on Climate Governance. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

Heyward, C., & S. Rayner 2015. Uneasy Expertise: Geoengineering, Social Science, and Democracy in the Anthropocene. In M. Heazle & J. Kane (eds) Policy Legitimacy, Science and Political Authority: Knowledge and Action in Liberal Democracies. Routledge Earthscan, Abingdon

Rayner, S. 2015. To Know or Not to Know? A Note on Ignorance as a Rhetorical Resource in Geoengineering Debates. In M. Gross & L. McGoey (eds) International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, Routledge, London

Rayner, S. & C. Heyward 2013 The Inevitability of Nature as a Rhetorical Resource. In K. Hastrup (ed) Anthropology and Nature. Routledge, Abingdon

Rayner, S. 2009. Human Capital, Social Capital and Institutional Capacity. In T. Graedel & E. van der Voet (eds) Linkages of Sustainability, MIT Press, Cambridge MA

Rayner, S. & E.L. Malone 2000. Security, Governance, and Environment. In M. Lowi & B.R. Shaw (eds) Environment and Security: Discourses and Practices, Macmillan, New York

Rayner, S. 1992. Cultural Theory and Risk Analysis. In S. Krimsky and D. Golding (eds) Social Theories of Risk, Greenwood Press, Westport, Connecticut.

Rayner, S. 1984. Disagreeing About Risk:  The Institutional Cultures of Risk Management and Planning for Future Generations. In S. Hadden (ed) Risk Analysis, Institutions, and Public Policy. Associated Faculty Press, Port Washington, New York

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