Steve Smith (academic)

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Steve Smith
Professor Steve Smith.jpg
Born (1952-02-04) 4 February 1952 (age 65)
Norwich, England, UK
Residence Exeter
Nationality British
Fields International relations theorist
Institutions Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter since 2002
Alma mater University of Southampton
Known for President of Universities UK (2009-2011)

Sir Steven Murray Smith, FAcSS, FRSA (born 4 February 1952) is an international relations theorist, academic, and senior university manager. He is the current Vice Chancellor of the University of Exeter and Professor of International Studies.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born on 4 February 1952 in Norwich, England. He attended the City of Norwich School, then a grammar school, on Eaton Road, Norwich. His parents were from working class backgrounds. At a parents evening, his form master told his parents about their son that "people like you don't go to university". The school afterwards suggested finding a low-skilled job for him.[1]

Smith gained a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Politics and International Studies in 1973, a Master of Science (MSc) degree in International Studies in 1974 and a Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) in International Relations in 1978, all from the University of Southampton.[2] BY: Himanshu Bhushan

Academic career[edit]

From 1976 to 1978, Smith lectured at Huddersfield Polytechnic. From 1979 to 1992, he lectured at University of East Anglia, becoming Director of the Centre for Public Choice Studies at UEA.[2] He was a professor at the university from 1990 to 1992. From 1992 to 2002, he was Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs), as well Professor of International Politics at University of Wales, Aberystwyth and Head of the Department of International Politics.[2]

In October 2002, he succeeded Geoffrey Holland as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Exeter.[2] When, under his Vice-Chancellorship Edzard Ernst was involved in a dispute with Prince Charles about the Smallwood Report into complementary medicine, the prince's secretary Sir Michael Peat put pressure on the University to discipline Ernst for publicizing his reasons for dissociating himself from the report. After being subjected to a "very unpleasant" investigation by the University of Exeter, in which Ernst was "treated as guilty until proven innocent", the university accepted his innocence but continued, in his view, to treat him as "persona non grata". All fundraising for his unit ceased, forcing him to use up its core funding, allowing its 15 staff to drift away, and leading to his early retirement.[3][4]

In the period 2003 to 2004, he was President of the International Studies Association (ISA),[5] only the second non-American to receive this honour.[2] Between 2006 and 2008 he was Chair of the Board of the 1994 Group.[2] From August 2009 to August 2011, he was the President of Universities UK[6] and remains on the board.[7]

In 2012, Sir Steve Smith, together with the Vice-Chancellor of Plymouth University announced the demerger of Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, and the establishment of the University of Exeter Medical School and the Plymouth University "Peninsula" Schools of Medicine and Dentistry. He is a member of the Board of Governors of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.[8]


During his academic career, Smith has written or edited thirteen books and almost 100 academic papers. He has given over 150 academic presentations in 22 different countries.[9] Within international relations theory, he often writes in a post-positivist vein, and has contributed articles to edited volumes on both post-modernism in international relations and Critical Security Studies. He co-authored Explaining and Understanding International Relations with the late Professor Martin Hollis. He also co-authored Nonprofits and Advocacy with Professor Yutaka Tsujinaka and Robert Pekkanen.[9]

He is the editor of the joint Cambridge University Press and British International Studies Association, Cambridge Studies in International Relations.[9]


Smith was the recipient of 1999 Susan Strange Award, awarded by the International Studies Association. In 2000, he was elected as an Academician of the Social Sciences (AcSS). In April 2007, he was awarded an honorary professorship by Jilin University in China. In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.[2] He was knighted in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours "for services to local and national Higher Education".[10]

He was recognized by University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft with the President's Global Leadership Award[11] during spring commencement exercises May 4–5, 2012 on the Tampa campus.

Personal life[edit]

His wife is Dr Jeannie Forbes.


  • Foreign Policy Adaptation, (Gower, 1981).
  • Politics and Human Nature, co-edited with Ian Forbes, (Pinter, 1983).
  • International Relations: British and American Approaches, (Blackwell, 1985).
  • The Cold War Past and Present, co-edited with Richard Crockatt, (Allen and Unwin, 1987).
  • Belief Systems and International Relations, co-edited with Richard Little, (Blackwell, 1988).
  • British Foreign Policy: Tradition, Change, and Transformation, co-edited with Michael Smith and Brian White, (Unwin Hyman, 1988).
  • Explaining and Understanding International Relations, with Martin Hollis, (Clarendon Press, 1990).
  • Deciding Factors in British Politics, co-edited with John Greenaway and John Street, (Routledge, 1991).
  • European Foreign Policy: The European Community and Changing Perspectives in Europe, co-edited with Walter Carlsnaes, (Sage, 1994).
  • International Relations Theory Today, co-edited with Ken Booth, (Polity Press, 1995).
  • International Theory: Positivism and Beyond, co-edited with Ken Booth and Marysia Zalewski, (Cambridge University Press, 1996).
  • The Globalization of World Politics, 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th ed., co-edited with John Baylis, (Oxford University Press, 1997/2001/2005/2008/2011).


  1. ^ Rebecca Attwood (27 November 2008). "UK university heads rose to the top from state schools". Times Higher Education. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive". University of Exeter. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Paul Jump (23 June 2011). "Alternative outcomes". Times Higher Education Supplement.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "ISA Presidents". International Studies Association. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Professor Sir Steve Smith". UCAS. 
  7. ^ "UK Board Members". Universities UK. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c "Professor Sir Steve Smith - Biography". University of Exeter. Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  10. ^ "(Supplement) no. 59808". The London Gazette. 11 June 2011. p. 2. 
  11. ^ Smith, Steve. Sir. "University of South Florida". USF. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Sir Geoffrey Holland
Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Exeter

Succeeded by