Naomi Oreskes




Naomi Oreskes is Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego, Adjunct Professor of Geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and an internationally renowned historian of science and author. Having started her career as a geologist, received her B.S. (1st class Honours) from the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College London, and then worked for three years as an exploration geologist in the Australian outback. She returned to the United States to receive an inter-disciplinary Ph.D. in geological research and history of science from Stanford University, in 1990. Professor Oreskes has lectured widely in diverse venues ranging from the Madison, Wisconsin Civics Club to the Air Force Research Laboratory, and has won numerous prizes, including, most recently the 2011 Climate Change Communicator of the Year.

Professor Oreskes has a long-standing interest in understanding the establishment of scientific consensus and the role and character of scientific dissent. Her early work examined the 20th century transformation of earth science, in The Rejection Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science (Oxford, 1999) and Plate Tectonics: An Insider's History of the Modern Theory of the Earth (Westview, 2001). She has also written on the under-acknowledged role of women in science, discussed in the prize-winning paper "Objectivity or heroism? On the invisibility of women in science" (OSIRIS 11 (1996): 87-113); and on the role of numerical simulation models in establishing knowledge about inaccessible natural phenomena (Verification, validation, and confirmation of numerical models in the earth sciences," Science 263 (1994): 641-646).

For the past decade, Professor Oreskes has primarily been interested in the problem of anthropogenic climate change. Her 2004 essay "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change" (Science 306: 1686) has been widely cited, both in the United States and abroad, including in the Royal Society's publication, "A Guide to Facts and Fictions about Climate Change," in the Academy-award winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, and in Ian McEwan's novel, Solar. Her opinion pieces have appeared in The Times (London), The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Nature, Science, The New Statesman, Frankfuter Allegemeine, and elsewhere. Her 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt, How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco to Global Warming, co-authored with Erik M. Conway, was shortlisted for the Los Angeles Time Book Prize.

Her current research projects include completion of a book on the history of Cold War Oceanography, Science on a Mission: American Oceanography in the Cold War and Beyond (Chicago, forthcoming), and Assessing Assessments: A Historical and Philosophical Study of Scientific Assessments for Environmental Policy in the Late 20th Century, funded by the National Science Foundation.

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Jul 1st 2014

This course views climate change from a variety of perspectives at the intersection of the natural sciences, technology, and the social sciences and humanities.

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