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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Steven Yearley

Steven Yearley
Professor Steven Yearley FRSE
Professor of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge
Science Technology and Innovation Studies School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
2.06 Old Surgeons' Hall High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)131 651 4747
Research Interests
Environment, citizen science, Justice and environment, Environmental Sociology, Sociology of knowledge and science, Sustainability, Sociology of Climate Change


Steve Yearley joined Edinburgh in 2005 as Professor of the Sociology of Scientific Knowledge. He is primarily interested in social studies of science and in environmental sociology. Steve is particularly concerned with areas where these specialisms overlap: for example in environmental controversies with a pronounced scientific element (such as with recent disputes over the safety or otherwise of GMOs) or, for example, in attempts to foster public engagement in technical decision-making in environmental areas (for instance, through his work on citizen engagement in urban air-quality issues and his work on public engagement with biodiversity issues in zoos and marine parks).

Additionally, Steve has been closely involved – primarily through the Wellcome Trust – with work on social aspects of human genetics and with social science questions relating to bioethics. From September 2006 to June 2013 he was appointed Director of the ESRC Genomics Policy & Research Forum.

The Forum was an innovative centre focused on bringing insights from the social sciences to public and policy debates around the life sciences. At the Forum Steve and other team members worked closely with a range of collaborators - from the Human Genetics Commission and the OECD, to the Natural History Museum and the Royal Society of London, and through to the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Traverse Theatre. Steve returned from his secondment to the Forum and moved to STIS in summer 2013.


  • MA (Cantab & Oxon),
  • PhD (York)


Research Interests

Environment citizen science Justice and environment Environmental Sociology Sociology of knowledge and science Sustainability Sociology of Climate Change

Current Projects

Steve has three externally funded research projects at present. Two relate to science-studies aspects of climate change: one of them focuses on monitoring practices and the governance of GHG emissions, the other on how scientific knowledge about climate change is summarised for policy purposes. His other project is a large international partnership on environment-food linkages.

PhD Supervision

PhD Topics

I welcome applications in all areas of science and technology studies, in environmental social science, and in social aspects of genomics and the 'new biology'. At the moment he has PhD students working or just completed on a variety of topics including environmental modelling, conservation controversies, sustainable schools, nuclear power and the 'risk society' in China, and environmental justice. He is particularly keen to supervise in areas where environmental topics and STS overlap.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

PhD in Politics; PhD in Science and Technology Studies; PhD in Sociology; MSc (R) Science and Technology Studies


Full information about Steve's publications and research work is given on Steve's personal website.

Latest Publications

  • with G Sundqvist et al ‘Formalisation and separation: a systematic basis for interpreting approaches to summarizing science for climate policy’ Social Studies of Science accepted for publication.
  • with R van der Wal et al ‘The influence of information provision on people’s landscape preferences: a case study on understorey vegetation of deer-browsed woodlands’ Landscape and Urban Planning 124 (2014) 129-139.
  • with Z Austin et al ‘Incentivising the collaborative management of mobile ecological resources’ Land Use Policy 36 (2014) 485-491.