Innovation and the Nation: what can we learn from the history of the British case 1900-2000?

Hosted by the Department of Geography and Environment and the Department of International History

Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building


Professor David Edgerton

Professor David Edgerton

Professor Ian Gordon



Dr Murray Low

Associate Professor of Human Geography

This lecture will examine the evolution of thinking about innovation and its practice in the United Kingdom in the twentieth-century, dispelling many myths which still dominate policy discourse. 

Among the claims made in the context of Brexit, the British Prime Minister has called for a new global Britain to lead the world into the fourth industrial revolution. This lecture will survey the history of innovation in the United Kingdom over the twentieth century, and rationales for policy. It will also show how policy analysis has commonly profoundly misunderstood both policy and practice, and the realities of  national innovation in a global world.  In particular it conflated  the nation and the world which lead to serious misunderstandings of the scope and power of national innovation.  So much so indeed that it has become difficult to believe that between 1945 and the 1970s the UK in fact had an entrepreneurial state and that the national R&D budget was higher than it has ever been.

Copies of David’s book, The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: A Twentieth-Century History, will be available to purchase on the night.

David Edgerton is Hans Rausing Professor of the History of Science and Technology and Professor of Modern British History, King's College London. 

Murray Low is Associate Professor of Human Geography, LSE. 

Department of Geography and Enviroment (@LSEGeography): a centre of international academic excellence in economic, urban and development geography, environmental social science and climate change.

The Department of International History (@lsehistory) teaches and conducts research on the international history of Britain, Europe and the world from the early modern era up to the present day.

Twitter Hashtag for this event: #LSEInnovation 


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