Former ICWA fellow Geoffrey Oldham dies

Former ICWA fellow Geoffrey Oldham—who was among the first to call for using science and technology to help people in the developing world—died in early October at age 88.

Geoffrey was born in England’s West Yorkshire and received a doctorate in geophysics from the University of Toronto. He began his career in oil exploration, but switched to studying the uses of science and technology for eliminating poverty after having worked in Latin America.

He was a fellow of the institute from 1961 to 1966, when he traveled to China, England, Hong Kong, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Switzerland, the Philippines, Israel and Macao. “All of my post-fellowship career has been due to the life changing experience of being an ICWA fellow,” he wrote in 2005. “It transformed me from a geophysicist to someone dedicated to helping the developing world use science and technology as a tool in their economic and social development.”

After his fellowship, he helped create institutions that advocated not only the transfer of knowledge to the developing world but also capacity building in those countries. In 1966, he helped found the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex, which he directed from 1982 to 1992. He also played a crucial role setting up the International Development Research Centre of Canada, called the “jewel in the crown of Canadian aid.” Appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1990, he later served as adviser to a number of high-level Canadian, United Nations and other bodies.

Geoffrey is survived by his wife Brenda, son Keith and daughter Janice, 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Read his obituary in The Guardian here.