Oral history of British science

Rapley, Chris (Part 5 of 7)

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  • Recording locations

    Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling, University College London

  • Interviewees

    Rapley, Chris, 1947- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 5 [58:05] [Session five: 18th August 2011] Comments on decision to apply for post as Director of IGBP, Stockholm, Sweden. Mentions work of James Lovelock [JL] on Earth system science [ESS]; ESS view of IGBP; JL’s relations with IGBP; Chairman of IGBP Science Committee [SC], Peter Liss [PL]. Story of interview, including own view that contemporary IGBP projects were departing from original aims of IGBP to reduce uncertainty regarding CC through integrated ESS. [4:43] Story of being informed of success in interview/appointment during dinner with wife. Comments on establishment of IGBP by Thomas Rosswell [TR]; Swedish enthusiasm for IGBP. Description of perception of own role as new Director, to refocus IGBP in production of usable, integrated ESS. Mentions IGBP budget (2.7 million/year). [8:15] Story of first meeting as Director of IGBP Science Committee. Comments on eventual success. [10:11] Comments on competition between IGBP and World Climate Research Programme [WCRP], led by Pierre Morel. Story of fortunate appointment of Hartnet MacRussel [?] new Director of WCRP; subsequent integration of/collaboration between IGBP/WCRP and Human Dimensions Programme [HDP]. [12:56] Comments on significance of Bretherton Diagram [BD] in visualising links between disciplines in ESS; own modification of BD to apportion contributions of IGBP/WCRP/HDP. [15:35] Description of organisation of IGBP projects. [17:20] Mentions residence in Stockholm; amount of own air travel. [17:34] Comments on involvement of developing nations in IGBP; current review of IGBP/WCRP/HDP by ICSU (International Council of Scientific Unions). [22:06] Mentions employment of geographer at MSSL. Description of own strategy for encouraging collaboration among scientists of different disciplines. Comments on role of International Group of Funding Agencies [IGFA]. [28:11] Comments on origin of own interest in ESS/integrated science, including influence of JL’s ‘New Scientist’ article on interrelations between biosphere/geosphere. Mentions tendency for academic rewards to promote specialism. [31:00] Description of modified BD. [32:36] Further, detailed comments on own strategies for achieving organisation change in IGBP (and BAS later), including role of literature on organisational change/theory, use of success criteria in relation to vision. Mentions Erica Jones [EJ] course on project management at MSSL, 1991. [37:13] Detailed comments on own books on organisational theory/leadership. [40:38] Mentions support of Provost Derek Roberts, UCL; attendance of JL at own Professorship inaugural. Long story of decision to move back to UCL, then decision to apply for post as Director of BAS, including view of BAS as divided by disciplinary interests. [51:37] Comments on interview/decision of interviewers. Mentions contemporary unfavourable review of BAS. [54:38] Description of culture of work at BAS before own appointment, including existence of favoured sections/competition between sections. Comments on introduction of new systems for planning of work/allocation of resources, in relation to a clarified organisational vision. Mentions training courses of EJ on project planning.

  • Description

    Interview with physicist, Chris Rapley

  • Related transcripts

    Chris Rapley interviewed by Paul Merchant: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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