Ken Green, 1946-2009

March 12, 2009

Ken Green, professor of environmental innovation management at the University of Manchester, died on 12 February after a short illness.

He was an expert on the application of technology to problems of sustainability, and his talents were valued far beyond Manchester. Professor Green was one of the first of a new generation of 1960s postgraduates who crossed the frontiers between natural and social sciences. As an undergraduate at the University of Manchester, he was equally at home in the biochemistry lab and in debates on radical political and economic theory. He thrived as a lecturer in the interdisciplinary environment of the newly formed department of liberal studies in science (later the department of science and technology policy), where he was able to create the new teaching programmes on "science and society" that he had called for as a student.

He was active in the radical science movement of the 1970s and 1980s, particularly around issues of workplace health and safety. In the early 1980s, Professor Green was a leading figure in an informal left-wing think-tank seeking to shape UK science policy, although an invitation by the Shadow Minister, Tam Dalyell, to advise him on the next Labour Government's first day of office was never fulfilled.

In 1988, he moved to the Manchester School of Management at Umist. He set up the school's doctoral training programme, and helped establish a successful research-based management school. He continued along this path after Umist's 2004 merger with the University of Manchester. Throughout this period, Professor Green pioneered research on innovation and environmental sustainability and conducted studies of sustainability in the household and the food system.

Always a great internationalist, he developed friendships with similar-minded Dutch colleagues in the 1970s that endured throughout his life. And he played a leading role in the establishment of international research networks on sustainable innovation embracing China and the US.

Professor Green combined academic rigour with an irrepressible sense of humour - a recent lecture was entitled "Give Peas a Chance!" He personified a style of academic inquiry informed by interdisciplinary knowledge and social commitment - a vital combination that is becoming less and less visible in the modern university landscape. He had some private passions, such as the history of Manchester and the electoral peculiarities of other nations. Most of all, he was known by students, colleagues and friends as a man of great personal warmth and humanity, who was also devoted to his wife, two sons and wider family.

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