Caitríona McLeish is a Senior Fellow at SPRU at the University of Sussex and became co-director of the Harvard Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons in 2010.

McLeish’s research interests are centred on the dual use problem in both the chemical and biological warfare environments and how to design effective mechanisms to prevent the misuse of legitimate science and technology. Widely published in the area, her recent work includes analysis of past offensive and defensive chemical and biological warfare programmes; assessments of the impact that contemporary dual use CBW policies are having on the innovative capacity of scientific and industrial communities; and examination of the roles of industry and global civil society in chemical and biological disarmament, including what potential roles industry and global civil society may have in preventing (re)emergence of these weapons.

In 2013 she began a research project to collect data on allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria and latterly Iraq. Initially funded as an 18 month project by the ESRC, this work is continues. She also leads the Deep Transitions sub project which examines the role of war in food, energy and transport systems.
As well as supervising postgraduate dissertation writing in the area of chemical and biological warfare issues, McLeish leads on HSPs external outreach and training programmes. She convenes two of HSP’s seminar series, The HSP London Seminar and Sussex Days, which seek to promote communication between government and non-government specialists in CBW issues. She also acts as editor of the Harvard Sussex Program Occasional Paper Series and has primary reponsibility for the Sussex Harvard Information Bank (SHIB), a systematic information bank built up from published and unpublished documentation on CBW accumulated since the early 1960s.

Also by this author

World wars and sociotechnical change in energy, food, and transport: A deep transitions perspective.

Abstract This paper explores the relationship between world wars and sociotechnical transitions in energy, food, and transport. We utilise and contribute to the Deep Transitions framework, which explores long-term, multi-systemic sociotechnical transitions and integrate a conceptual approach tailored to this particular topic. This approach bridges between historical literatures focused on world wars and sociotechnical perspectives….

World wars and the age of oil: Exploring directionality in deep energy transitions

Abstract This paper explores the role of the world wars in 20th century energy transitions, focusing on the growth of oil as a major energy source which accelerated after the Second World War in North America and Europe. We utilise the recently developed Deep Transitions framework which combines Techno-Economic Paradigms and sociotechnical transitions approaches. The…

The changing landscape of deep transitions: Sociotechnical imprinting and chemical warfare

Abstract This paper addresses a major gap in sustainability transitions research: the role of shocks in shaping transition dynamics. The papers focuses on shocks with traumatic consequences, in particular World War I and II. The paper revisits discussions on the sociotechnical landscape in the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) and Deep Transition framework, offering refined versions of…

Episode 3: Imprints of War in Deep Transitions

Deep Transitions
Deep Transitions
Episode 3: Imprints of War in Deep Transitions
“We always forget about pipelines”. Let Phil Johnstone and Caitriona McLeish change that in this week’s podcast, with their memorable account of how the World Wars’ incredible feats of mass mobilisation led us to the unsustainable age of abundant energy and militarised nations we know today. Do we need to declare war on climate change?…
Blog - March 31, 2020

War, huh, what is it good for….?

According to Edwin Starr, “absolutely nothing” but when we present our work on the influential role of the World Wars in the culmination of the first deep transition, we keep being asked the same question: “So, you’re saying that we need a war then?” It seems the question is asked in relation to two considerations…

The Role of War in Deep Transitions: Exploring Mechanisms, Imprints and Rules in Sociotechnical Systems

This paper builds on the Deep Transitions (DT) framework to explore in what ways the two World Wars influenced transitions in the sociotechnical systems of energy, food and transport. The role of war is an underexplored aspect in both Techno-Economic Paradigms (TEP) approach and the Multi-level perspective (MLP) which form the two key conceptual building…