Section: Stewart Russell
We were all shocked by Stewart's untimely and tragic death. Our sorrow should not divert us from recollecting his achievements and his contributions over many years to research and teaching the field of Science, Technology and Innovation Studies.
These pages provide a space for his friends and colleagues to record messages of appreciation and memories.
Stewart joined the University of Edinburgh in 2006 as Deputy Director of the Research Centre for Social Sciences. He helped build the interdisciplinary research programmes of the Institute for the Study of Science, Technology and Innovation, particularly around the transition to environmental sustainability, water management and energy technologies. His sustained efforts, particularly in developing our joint postgraduate programmes with the Science Studies Unit, paved the way for the establishment of the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies subject group.
Stewart made an important contribution to the development of the field of Science and Technology Studies over many years. After short spells at Aston University and Edinburgh he spent 20 years at the University of Wollongong, inspiring a generation of students at their Science, Technology & Society program, before returning to Edinburgh.
He was tireless in his support for colleagues in their work and in building links with other scholars and with wider audiences. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his partner Lorraine and other members of his family.
To commemorate Stewart’s commitment and passion in helping students achieve their full potential, we are delighted to announce the creation of a fund in his memory which will directly help students here at the University of Edinburgh. For more information, or to make a donation, please see The Stewart Russell Fund (PDF document).
Stewart's love of books, research and the built environment made for good craic as we waited for the kettle to boil. His students benefitted from a stimulating and dedicated teacher, and their achievements will be an abiding part of his legacy. The Understanding Technology lecture series, set up by Stewart in cooperation with the National Museums of Scotland, are testament to his dedication to reaching out to wider publics.
Moyra Forrest, ISSTI Information Officer
You may be interested to see the tribute that Fred Steward has written in the EASST Review - the newsletter of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (2011 Vol 30 No 4). easst.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/review_2011_12.pdf A number of other obituaries for Stewart Russell have been published and can be found here The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2011/oct/23/stewart-russell-obituary The Scotsman http://www.scotsman.com/news/obituaries/obituary-dr-stewart-russell-talented-lecturer-who-was-an-expert-in-understanding-what-drives-and-inhibits-environmentally-sustainable-energy-systems-1-1902490
Stewart was a wonderful colleague here in Edinburgh and an important member of the wider STS community. He never blew his own trumpet, but his contributions were always sharp and to the point, and he was enormously generous with his time in helping others. He will be badly missed by those of us here and by his many friends worldwide. Our thoughts are with Lorraine at this difficult time.
Stewart offered a warm welcome to me and other early career staff arriving at the University of Edinburgh from overseas. He and Lorraine generously welcomed me into their home and introduced me to colleagues (now friends) from the wider STS community. Stewart's efforts and thoughtfulness did much to ease my and others' transition to a new job, university and country. He will be much missed and my thoughts too are with Lorraine.
It was a privilege to have been taught by Stewart. He was a brilliant teacher who provided extra help to his students in one-to-one feedback meetings and lunchtime sessions. His commitment to teaching went far beyond the call of duty and I am very grateful to have been one of his students. I will remember him vividly and fondly, with sincere sympathies at this time.
Stewart Russell was one of the first people to introduce me to STS as a field of study - during my second year as an undergraduate science student in Australia. From this time on, Stewart proved himself to be a dedicated teacher, always keen to help students, especially those of us moving from a science background into STS. His encouragement during this early phase of my studies is one of the reasons that I moved to this discipline. Stewart also had a significant impact on my career by giving me my first teaching work in academia (as a tutor on on of his courses). This generous support, and his selfless offering of his time to his students, were some of the characteristics I associate most with Stewart. It is Edinburgh's loss that he is not with us any longer to provide the same benevolent support for students and junior colleagues. His energies in linking STIS with the wider academic world in Edinburgh and beyond will be missed.
Stewart was one of my PhD supervisors at the University of Wollongong. Coming from a biology and political science background, I knew nothing of STS when I first arrived in his office. Stewart therefore became my guide through that strange and foreign land. When I first told him that I was doing my PhD on the subject of biotechnology but did NOT want to focus on questions of risk, he encouraged me to take his class on STS perspectives on technological risk and then decide. His lectures were so thought-provoking and inspiring that not only did I complete my PhD on the practice of environmental risk assessment for biotechnologies, my interest in STS and technological risks persists in all my current research interests and activities. Stewart was a wonderful supervisor - patient, wise, open, critical and calm - as well as a generous and warm-hearted man. I will miss his guidance terribly but am somewhat comforted by the idea that his passion, knowledge and spirit will continue through the work that he has inspired me to do. Thank you Stewart and be at peace.
After a year in his post here at Edinburgh, we received an email to tell us that Stewart had been made a permanent member of staff (from the original one-year contract). This is the email I sent to Robin Williams in response to the news: I just wanted to say how glad I am. Stewart has been a complete revelation since he first started: a great colleague (always interested and interesting) and a really decent bloke (24th May, 2007).
I still remember: Where his office was located. It was welcoming, many books…many photos he had, and the two pictures he took on the street signs: Stewart Road and Russell Street. I still remember: He had a Macbook. He typed quickly with a laptop stand beneath. That was where he had his ideas/knowledge codified in the papers/chapters. That was where he replied every email received and checking through our naïve assignments. I still remember: How he taught us in the class. His blue eyes-signed us how deep the knowledge of STS is (to the newbie like us). Yet his charming smile comforted us, "there is never too hard to learn about the STS". His Australian accent helped us (international students) to understand better-after being confused with the Edinburgh Scottish accent. I will remember… What he had taught me, what he had written to me, what he had published. More than words to say how much we all miss him. May him rest in peace.
Stewart and I first crossed paths in Aston University in the 1980s, stood with AUT banners on the picket line protesting against the first round of major cuts in HE funding under Margaret Thatcher's government, and generally bemoaned the damage being done to the technological universities in the name of 'rationalisation' and 'efficiency'. I was amazed to encounter him over 20 years later on a street in central Edinburgh. He was with an interesting-looking woman with long hair and a welcoming face - his partner Lorraine. We became colleagues for a second time, and I am glad that I had some time to be friends again with Stewart, and this time to have the extra pleasure of getting to know Lorraine. Both are deeply and selflessly kind, generous and hospitable people. I am also very grateful to Stewart for reacquainting me with his detailed knowledge of the long UK saga of district heating and combined heat and power and its place in energy politics and policy. Stewart wore his considerable knowledge lightly, and with humility. He never failed to remind those of us working with him of the social life of technologies, and the human costs of an over-concern with business models and finance, to the detriment of equity and democracy. He was very interested in people and concerned to make sure that the voices of the powerless were heard. When Stewart became seriously ill, we were working, together with other colleagues, on a major new project on district heating and community energy, and Stewart wrote the first working paper for the project team on the historical trajectory of the technology in the UK. I wish he was able to continue with that work. When he could be persuaded to relax and talk about his life and times, Stewart was a good raconteur, and we enjoyed listening to his and Lorraine's stories about Australia, the cats, and the negotiations over the plot of land in Fife. He will be sadly missed by all of us who worked with him, and who urged him to work a bit less. I know that Lorraine is deeply grief stricken, but will celebrate his memory, and I hope we can all help her to do that in honour of Stewart.
I first met Stewart when I was a PhD student in STS at the University of Wollongong, where he was making great contributions. It seemed to me that he excelled in research, teaching and administration. Twenty years later I now know how rare the mastering of all three is in an academic! He had vast knowledge and detailed theoretical understanding which he shared in his mild yet helpful and enthusiastic manner. He was insightful and a wonderful colleague, providing endless support and gentle guidance, for which I will forever be grateful. But his many qualities went beyond academia. I feel priviledged to have been able to count him as a friend and not just a colleague. He was humble, kind, generous, insightful, conscientious and sincere. Not least, he had a wonderful sense of humour. He and Lorraine were both very hospitable and my husband and I very much appreciated five splended days we had staying with them in Edinburgh last year. I very much value my warm memories of this and of Lorraine's elderflower wine. Stewart loved Lorraine very much and they both loved the home that they created in Australia. There will always be a part of them here. Soon after I met Stewart, I remember him pedalling furiously to university while I'd be walking from the railway station. He'd dash fleetingly past in a fluorescent skin-tight outfit and yell "Hello Wendy!" He zoomed past so quickly and was dressed so differently from his academically attired self that this happened half a dozen times before I realised it was Stewart! How I wish he could cycle back into our lives and call his greetings to us once more, but we will have to content ourselves with his memory. But they are good memories. I hope that Lorraine, in her terrible grief and rightful sense of loss, will find comfort both in the memories and in knowing how much we all care.
I first met Stewart in 1994 when I arrived at the Uni of Wollongong as a newly appointed STS lecturer. I was trying to find my feet in a new job - he was a kind and welcoming face and very generous with his advice. It became very obvious, very quickly, that Stewart was the real thing. He lived his politics of inclusion and compassion and everyone who encountered him was the better for it. Stewart was a good man in the very deepest sense of the word. I'll never forget when he met Lorraine. There was no doubt that he loved her - it just shone out of him. Stewart and Lorraine witnessed my marriage and, later, we witnessed theirs in the garden of their Wollongong home. Again, it was wonderful to see them so happy together. Lorraine matched Stewart in spirit and courage and I feel privileged to know them both.
Stewart was the first person who suggested me to start a PhD in STS in Edinburgh. I will be always thankful for his support and enormously generosity with his time in helping me to make this dream come true. I will always remember the nice time we spend together with other students in a lunch he organised with Lorraine at their place just before he became seriously ill. Stewart was a good mentor, teacher and even greater person. I will remember him fondly and my thoughts too are with Lorraine.
Stewart was one of the first people I met when I came to Edinburgh, and I still remember the warmth of his welcome. What I came to know soon after was his brilliance, his openesss, and how down to earth he was. He was a pleasure to have as a colleague and will be hugely missed. Our thoughts and sincere sympathies are indeed wtih Lorraine at this very dreadful time.
Just before Stewart left Australia I had the privilege of walking with him around the garden he and Lorraine had established. His commitment to making a real, practical difference to the lives and physical places he encountered was inspirational to me, and to so many of his colleagues and friends here. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from him the importance to migrants like us of making a real garden that respects where you are.
I'll remember Stewart for a road trip we took to Ullapool to interview an eco-home expert, and enjoy a beer or two on the quayside. We had lots of interesting conversations about Australia and Scotland, dirty water and plumbers. He was very generous and always had an open office, a pile of interesting new books to chat about and always another story about falling off his bike.
Unlike many people who remember Stewart Russell as a workmate - and although I was associated with him at University of Wollongong for many years - I was actually Lorraine’s colleague within the School of History & Politics; I got to know Stewart more closely as a friend mainly because he was Lorraine’s partner. As I withdrew from Wollongong and began to spend an increasing amount of time in the southern Philippines, the two of them opened their home to me and I was privileged to be a frequent guest at Mt Kembla. The house and garden became a valued refuge for me where I was always made welcome. Stewart and Lorraine were excellent cooks so hospitality invariably included culinary delights, often cooked with produce from the garden. While others will remember Stewart’s achievements as a researcher and teacher, I most vividly recall his companionship. He shared his enthusiasm for many things, including his knowledge of photography. He was a wonderful person, open and goodhearted as well as questioning and sceptical. Somewhat to my embarrassment, he was much intrigued when I established a piggery in Mindanao to help the flimsy finances of my adoptive family there. Yet, as the world turns, he was most recently thinking of breeding pigs on the farmstead at Fife. He was full of useful advice, but was always positive when making suggestions. He cared deeply about others. I appreciated how easily he gained the respect and admiration of those who worked with him, but I was privileged to know him simply as a dear friend. The memories which will stay with me include the evening some years ago when he introduced me to “The Waterboys” (how do you thank somebody for that?). Stewart was a person of insight and imagination who, in the words of Mike Scott, clearly saw the whole of the moon. I miss him.
I worked with Stewart on a water reuse project in 2004 and 2005. One of the memories that stays with me is of Stewart's impressive intellect. We were writing papers together on the project and he would give me a paper to add to and I would think "how on earth do I add to that? It's already word perfect!" We worked a lot with various publics up and down the eastern coast of Australia and I very much enjoyed working with him on the various consultations we had with different communities and the beers we had afterwards. It was also obvious that Stewart was a careful and passionate teacher and students very much appreciated his subjects at the University of Wollongong. Stewart was also passionate about social justice issues and we could rely on him on our travels for insightful and incisive critiques of current situations.
I've enjoyed working with Stewart very much. I was impressed by his energy and cleverness as well as his personal warmth! Lately, I have greatly missed him as co-editor of a book on the social science of CCS technology, which could have been much better with his help. We will dedicate the book to Stewart!
I am very thankful for having met Stewart Russell. He supported me to be at ISSTI in Edinburgh for a few months in 2007, working in my pHD dissertation and his suggestions have guided me and helped me to finish it. His trust, openness and kindness and Lorraine's too are still in my memories, and his classes were deeply interesting. Here is my gratitude and it is also reflected in the acknowledgements of my Spanish pHD dissertation.
Like many of Stewart's former students, I benefited greatly from his enthusiasm, intelligence, knowledge and dedication to helping those he taught. I wouldn't be in the position I am today had Stewart not opened doors to me at Edinburgh, and I will forever be grateful to him. He told me that, as a student with no money, he had taken part in medical trials to raise some cash to give to the miners when they were striking. This, along with the many stories on this page and his academic work illustrates for me the breadth of Stewart's commitment to making the world a better place. The world is poorer for Stewart's untimely passing, but enriched by the contribution he made in his life.
Stewart's death is shocking - because it is so untimely, but also because it deprives us of such a 'good egg'. Reading the memories and tributes above (I have only just picked up the news, two weeks late), just serves to underline his warm humanity and his deep commitment - to the field of STS and to a democratic and sustainable politics. He gave deeply of himself on all fronts, perhaps too deeply at times for his health's sake. I remember Stewart as an exemplary teaching colleague at Edinburgh - always student-centred and never ducking the challenges, be they intellectual or interpersonal. He was an exceptional listener and, clearly, inspired many many students over the years. It is a wonderful heritage. Like many others, I was privileged to be invited to Stewart and Lorraine's home and to experience the strength of vision and character which she clearly shared with him. May that spirit carry her through this awful loss.
Stewart's loss is a real loss to the Graduate School. We know how much his students admired him; he was also a pleasure for us to work with. Madina, the STS MSc Programme Secretary, in particular had a very positive relationship with him. His active involvement, enthusiasm and expertise will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.
The Graduate School Office
I met Stewart in Edinburgh (he had a bad cold as I recall) to come to Australia and work in our STS Department at the University of Wollongong. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Stewart was a wonderful colleague settling in to play a most constructive role for the entirety of his time at Wollongong. He was liked by all staff, a dedicated and effective teacher, and a good researcher, although his research was interrupted by some bouts of ill-health. He worked with me and on a number of projects and his support and contribution was always thoughtful and thorough. Stewart was a wonderful colleague and friend and it is terribly sad that he is no longer with us. My warmest thoughts to Lorraine in this difficult time.
Jim Falk, University of Melbourne
As Research Administrator within STIS/ISSTI, my interaction with Stewart was on the other side of the research and teaching that so many colleagues shared with him. He was always supportive, in spite of the many demands of both aspects of his work, making time to answer the many administrative queries which arose. When we became exasperated (frequently) with ever more complex research management requirements, he would inevitably throw in some good humoured comment that would make us laugh. I just happened to be sitting beside Stewart at the office lunch last Christmas, and his obvious enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of building his new home were infectious, and led to much debate around the table! It fills me with great sadness that he will be unable to share the results of this vision with Lorraine. I wish her strength in this difficult time.
I met Professor Russell as a master student in 2008, and I had the privilege to have him as my supervisor. I'll always remember him as an enthusiastic and dedicated teacher. His lectures, the conversations we had, and his passion strongly inspire my work today. I wish I had the chance to exchange ideas with him once more. My thoughts are with his partner, family, and friends. Thank you Stewart for all the “food for the mind”.
Professor Russell was the person who encouraged me and advised me during the whole time of my master in 2008-09 and after. He gave me some very precious suggestions, which addressed me to the profession that now I do and love. Thank you for caring so much about people and to be so sensible in your support.
Stewart took Mattia, Francis, myself and all our MSc group under his wing from the first go. Even before joining the master program he made us all feel at ease with polite, humourous correspondences. I only learned of his tragic passing today and just want to take this opportunity to say thank you for making our intellectual voyages in Edinburgh all the more inspiring. Thoughts to all your friends and family.
I met Stewart long before I started my course and I remember his office was full of boxes and books. Books over books, and we sat amongst them on a little table with a great cup of coffee chatting away about Science and Policy - and I never knew how excited I could get about regulations and policy making; but most importantly I was overwhelmed by Stewart's friendlyness and warmheartedness! His enthusiasm during his lectures and his never ending support for his students were turely inspiring! This is a tragic loss not just academically but mostly personally. With all my heard I wish his partner and family all the strength they need in these hard times. My thoughts are with you.
I knew Stewart at Wollongong, when I was in Biological Sciences, but developing an interest in STS. Stewart was an important colleague who welcomed my interest in STS and fed it with references, input and discussions. We had most to do with one another while co-supervising Fern Wickson; although that felt more like a collaboration than supervision, with us all learning from each other, and particularly from Stewart's knowledge and insights of STS. I really respected the depth of his scholarship, but also his ability to make his knowledge accessible to the non-expert. His integrity, kindness and humour will be sorely missed and I will remember his and Lorraine's hospitality at several memorable parties at their lovely cottage at Mt Kembla. My disappoinment at his leaving Australia now pales in comparison to the sadness of knowing he is gone. My thoughts go to Lorraine and all those who were close to Stewart.
Symposium to celebrate Stewart Russell's contribution Friday 30th March 2012 The University of Edinburgh This one-day symposium will celebrate the ideas and ideals of our late colleague and friend, Dr Stewart Russell. The event will focus on his contribution first in analysing the diverse social, economic and political well as narrowly technical factors that influenced the design and deployment of technologies, and second in applying these insights and methodologies to the challenges of environmental sustainability through critical, policy oriented studies across a range of energy technologies. We hope you will be able to take part. We welcome offers of papers that link in to and carry forward these traditions. Email Robin Williams (R.Williams@ed.ac.uk) with your proposed title and a brief abstract. To help us plan numbers, please email Geraldine Debard <Geraldine.Debard@ed.ac.uk> if you are planning to attend. Geraldine will provide information about arrangements and suggestions for accommodation.
Robin Williams and Fred Steward
Stewart encouraged me to take Honours in 2002 at the University of Wollongong (it is not standard practice to do this in Australian universities) and when that year was over I didn't take immediate advantage of that qualification but started my own business. Eight years later I learned how valuable Honours was when I was invited to enroll as a Higher Degree Research student. Not long after that, Stewart found my name listed on the University of Wollongong's website and contacted me with his congratulations and best wishes - a very welcome surprise as he'd been in Edinburgh for several years by that time. From what I have read, it seems this was just one example of his generosity of spirit. I, too, am saddened by his untimely passing.
Madeleine Roberts, University of Wollongong
My memories of Stewart are those of a warm colleague and a generous host. I'll never forget the attempts to protect the blue tongues and the adoption of the abandoned cats. I still have in my office a photograph he brought back after visiting cemeteries on the Western Front, which summed up how we both felt about the Great War: it read 'An Australian Soldier, Known to God': a man unknown, unidentified but part of the madness that gripped Europe between 1914 and 1918. I still use it in lectures. And although I'm saddened by the news of his death, I prefer to remember his contribution to a regional university that began to take itself seriously, his humour, his commitment (sometimes in a slightly puzzled way) to his students, his subjects and his discipline. And Lorraine is also in my thoughts at this moment.
Stewart was a good friend and colleague here at the University of Wollongong - passionate about his ideals and enthusiasms, warm with a quirky sense of humor, and a deep commitment to scholarship and making the world a better place in big and small ways. He was pretty special ... Vale.
This page was published on 28 October 2013