Professor Neville Brown

Professor Neville G. Brown (born 8 April 1932) has been a senior member of Mansfield College, Oxford, since 1994. Rather fortuitously, his career has been based on the interaction between the humanities and physics, especially the sky sciences. Coming in from physical science, he read economics with geography at University College London (UCL) followed by modern history at New College, Oxford. For half of the time he then spent as a forecasting officer in the meteorological branch of the Fleet Air Arm (1957-60), he specialized in upper air analysis. Other assignments included two British coastal stations plus gunnery trials and junior staff duties with the Mediterranean Fleet. He was a field meteorologist on two British Schools expeditions to sub-polar regions.


In 1980, he was elected to a chair in International Security Affairs at the University of Birmingham. He has held Visiting Fellowships, or the equivalent, at the UK National Defence College, then at Latimer; the School of Physics and Astrophysics at the University of Leicester; the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London; the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute; the Australian National University, Canberra; and the Defence Engineering Group, UCL. From 1965 to 1972, he worked part-time but quite pro-actively as a defence correspondent, focussing mainly on the Middle East and South-East Asia. He was accredited to the New Statesman (1965-8) and the New Scientist (1968-70). He also filed regularly for Le Monde Diplomatique and the New Middle East.


From 1981 to 1986, Professor Brown was the first Chairman of the Council for Arms Control, a British all-party body drawn from parliament, the churches and other professions and committed to a serious but essentially multilateral approach to arms control. He became then deeply involved in the multinational debate about Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD).


From April 1994 to the summer of 1997, he was attached half-time to the Directorate of Sensors and Electronic Systems (within the Procurement Executive, UK Ministry of Defence) as the Academic Consultant to the official Pre-Feasibility Study on what policy, if any, Britain should have on BMD. A declassified version of an 87,000-word Fundamental Issues Study he wrote during this assignment was published by Mansfield College in 1998. Throughout, the vexed question of Space-based missile defence was on the agenda. He has himself been solidly opposed throughout to Space weaponisation for whatever purpose.


In 2000, Professor Brown was the editor for a very seminal Sino-European Conference in Beijing on BMD. The thirty or so officials and academics present were senior people with directly relevant expertise. The European contingent came from France, Germany and Britain. About half the papers thus presented and published in English were by our Chinese colleagues.


He has authored twentythree books, monographs, or major reports. Among them has been The Future of Air Power (Beckenham, Croom Helm, 1986). But with the award-winning Future Global Challenge (New York, Crane Russak, 1977), he began to give economic, cultural and ecological factors more salience in the quest for a peaceable world. The current trilogy of studies has carried this progression considerably further. His chief contribution to date to the scholarly study of the atmosphere has been History and Climate Change, a Eurocentric Perspective (London, Taylor and Francis, 2001). It focuses particularly on Europe between AD 500 and 1500.


In 1990, Professor Brown was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.


In 1995, the University of Birmingham conferred on him a Doctorate of Science in Applied Geophysics.


Neville Brown passed away suddenly but peacefully on 28th May 2018. He was just over 86 but well into his next book, “Our Planet in Crisis”


Professor Neville G. Brown