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Scientific Governance in Britain, 1914-79$
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Don Leggett and Charlotte Sleigh

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780719090981

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719090981.001.0001

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Governing science on BBC radio in 1930s Britain: religion, eugenics and war

Governing science on BBC radio in 1930s Britain: religion, eugenics and war

(p.234) 12 Governing science on BBC radio in 1930s Britain: religion, eugenics and war
Scientific Governance in Britain, 1914-79

Ralph Desmarais

Manchester University Press

During the 1930s, in fulfilment of its adult education obligations as a public service monopoly organisation, the fledgling British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired more than a hundred domestic radio programmes which addressed the relations of science and society. This chapter examines governance challenges confronting the Corporation in these ambitious programmes, with a focus on three controversial science-related topics of particular salience to this turbulent decade: religion, eugenics and war. Having elected to disseminate the diverse, contentious, and often conflicting views held by the scientific community on these crucial issues, the BBC encountered a succession of difficulties arising from varied political stances amongst its speakers, other scientists, and its own staff alike. Nonetheless, through an array of effective governance mechanisms, the BBC helped to sustain modern science’s widely-accepted high stature, and uphold scientists’ reputation as leading contributors to Britain’s public good.

Keywords:   British Broadcasting Corporation, radio, scientific intellectuals, science and society, eugenics, science and war, science and religion, Mary Adams, John Reith, adult education, 1930s Britain

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