Scientists for Global Responsibility - A Brief History

Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR) is a UK-based organisation which was formed in 1992 from the merger of Scientists Against Nuclear Arms (SANA), Electronics and Computing for Peace (ECP) and Psychologists for Peace (PfP). These organisations had originally been set up to campaign to reduce the widespread use of science and technology for military purposes: in particular, they sought the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

However, with the break-up of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, together with the growing realisation of the threat of climate change, the organisations decided to merge and widen their focus. A general concern about the misuse of science and technology in threatening human life and the wider environment became the organisation's central aim.

At roughly the same time, the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS) disbanded and many of their members also joined SGR.

In 2005, Architects and Engineers for Social Responsibility (AESR) – another UK-based organisation which worked on many of the same issues – joined the SGR family. AESR had been formed in 1991 by a merger of Architects for Peace (AfP) and Engineers for Social Responsibility (ESR), the latter having been created when Engineers for Nuclear Disarmament decided to widen its remit.

SGR's main projects in recent years have been:

  • Ethical careers in science, design and technology (from 1999) - producing educational materials for students and graduates which highlight the ethical dilemmas in choosing a career path, and outline those which emphasise peace, social justice and environmmental sustainability;
  • Military influence on science and technology (from 2003) - research and campaign work to highlight the extensive influence that militarism has within science and technology, and to argue for a shift in priorities;
  • Corporate influence on science technology (from 2007) - research and campaign work to highlight and challenge the overemphasis on short-term commercial priorities within science and technology.

SGR also played a leading role in the 'Science for the Earth' conferences (1992-1996) and 'The Climate Train to Kyoto' (1997-1998).

SGR has also organised regular conferences (every year or so) on controversial issues in science and technology, and produced the SGR Newsletter and a number of other publications. SGR currently works across five main areas: security and disarmament; climate change and energy; who controls science and technology?; emerging technologies; and the built environment.