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Bristol academics elected as Fellows of the British Academy

Professors David Gordon (left) and Samir Okasha

Press release issued: 20 July 2018

Two University of Bristol academics have been elected as Fellows of the British Academy, in recognition of their achievements in the humanities and social sciences.

Professor of Social Justice and Director of the Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research, David Gordon, from the School of Policy Studies, and Professor of Philosophy of Science, Samir Okasha from the Department of Philosophy are among a record 76 academics elected as Fellows of the Academy.

Professor Gordon was a member of the UN Expert Group on Poverty Statistics and the EU Task Force on Material Deprivation.  He was a scientific advisor to the European Union/Latin American Network 10 - Fight against Urban Poverty and was an international advisor for the development of the official multidimensional poverty measure in Mexico. In 2017, the European Union (EU) adopted a new measure of Material and Social Deprivation (MSD) and in 2018 the EU adopted its first ever measure of child deprivation, proposed by Professor Gordon and colleagues.

He also advised the United Nations Department for Economic & Social Affairs (UNDESA) on poverty and hunger issues amongst young people (aged 15 to 24) and is a member of the advisory board of the UNICEF Office of Research.   He worked with UNICEF on its first ever Global Study on Child Poverty and Disparities and provided scientific advice and support to over 50 UNICEF country offices. In 2006 and 2007, he was given the tremendous honour of addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations about child and youth poverty.  He led the Poverty and Social Exclusion in the United Kingdom ( project, the largest project of its kind in UK history.  From 2008 to 2011, he was a member of the Child Poverty Expert Group which provided the Minister for Children and the Welsh Assembly Government with advice on the actions needed to eradicate child poverty in Wales.

Professor Gordon said: “I am delighted to have been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy and the recognition this brings to my work and that of my colleagues in the Bristol Poverty Institute into issues of poverty and social justice.”

Samir Okasha is Professor of Philosophy of Science in the Department of Philosophy at Bristol, where has worked since 2003. He received his PhD from the University of Oxford in 1998. Samir specialises in the philosophy of science, with a particular interest in evolutionary biology. He has worked extensively on foundational and conceptual questions in evolutionary theory, and has also written at length on epistemological issues in science.

He is the author of over seventy articles in leading philosophical and scientific journals. He first monograph, Evolution and the Levels of Selection was published by OUP in 2006, and won the 2009 Lakatos Prize for an outstanding contribution to the philosophy of science. His second monograph, Agents and Goals in Evolution, was published by OUP in July 2018. He is also the author of Philosophy of Science: a very short introduction (OUP 2015), and Philosophy of Biology: a very short introduction (OUP forthcoming).

From 2011 to 2016, Samir held a European Research Council Advanced Grant for a project entitled "Darwinism and the Theory of Rational Choice." Samir is currently President of the European Philosophy of Science Association." His latest book, Agents and Goals in Evolution, is out this month.

He said: “I am delighted to have been elected to the Fellowship of the British Academy (Philosophy section), and look forward to playing a full role in the Academy in the years to come.

“I have spent the majority of my academic career in the Philosophy department here at Bristol, and I owe a considerable debt to my colleagues, past and present, for creating a flourishing intellectual environment."

The British Academy is the UK’s national body for the humanities and social sciences – the study of peoples, cultures and societies, past, present and future.

Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, said: “I am delighted to welcome this year’s exceptionally talented new Fellows to the Academy. Including historians and economists, neuroscientists and legal theorists, they bring a vast range of expertise, insights and experience to our most distinguished fellowship.

“The election of the largest cohort of Fellows in our history means the British Academy is better placed than ever to help tackle the challenges we all face today. Whether it’s social integration or the ageing society, the future of democracy or climate change, Brexit or the rise of artificial intelligence, the insights of the humanities and social sciences are essential as we navigate our way through an uncertain present into what we hope will be an exciting future.

“I extend to all of our new Fellows my heartiest congratulations and I look forward to working closely with them to build on the Academy’s reputation and achievements.”



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