Governing science on BBC radio in 1930s Britain
Religion, eugenics and war
in Scientific governance in Britain, 1914–79
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During the 1930s, in fulfilment of its adult education obligations as a public service monopoly organisation, the fledgling British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired more than a hundred domestic radio programmes which addressed the relations of science and society. This chapter examines governance challenges confronting the Corporation in these ambitious programmes, with a focus on three controversial science-related topics of particular salience to this turbulent decade: religion, eugenics and war. Having elected to disseminate the diverse, contentious, and often conflicting views held by the scientific community on these crucial issues, the BBC encountered a succession of difficulties arising from varied political stances amongst its speakers, other scientists, and its own staff alike. Nonetheless, through an array of effective governance mechanisms, the BBC helped to sustain modern science’s widely-accepted high stature, and uphold scientists’ reputation as leading contributors to Britain’s public good.

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