In Memoriam: Harvey Brooks


The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with great sorrow the death May 28, 2004, of Honorary Trustee and Honorary Member of the Corporation Harvey Brooks at his home in Cambridge, MA, from complications of congestive heart failure. He was 88.

He was elected a Trustee and Member of the Corporation of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1958, and served on the Executive Committee from 1964 to 1987.   He also served on a Scientific Advisory Committee from 1959 to 1964, and at various times on the Nominating Committee, including one year as Chair.

Harvey Brooks was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Yale University, receiving a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1937.   He began graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England, later transferring to Harvard University to complete a Ph.D. degree in physics in 1940 under the direction of J.H. van Vleck.   He was a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard from 1940 to 1942, and was a staff member at the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory from 1941 to 1945, working on antisubmarine warfare projects for the government during World War II.   In 1946 he joined the staff at General Electric, serving as associate head of the Knolls Atomic Power Lab, where he helped develop a nuclear reactor to power the Sea Wolf, the first submarine to cross the North Pole under the Arctic ice pack.

He returned to Harvard in 1950 as Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, and from 1957 to 1975 served as Dean of the Division of Engineering and Applied Physics. In addition to his research on solid state physics, nuclear engineering, and underwater acoustics, Harvey began devoting his energies to the link between science and public policy. He wrote a book, The Government of Science , published by MIT Press in 1968, and numerous articles on science policy, and founded the international Journal of the Physics and Chemistry of Solids in 1957, serving as editor in chief until the mid-1970s.

Harvey Brooks served on many committees related to science policy, chairing the Harvard faculty committee for the IBM-funded program on technology and society from 1968 to 1972.   In 1976 Harvard University established the Science, Technology and Public Policy program at the Kennedy School of Government, which Harvey Brooks directed until he retired in 1986. At the time of his death he was Director Emeritus of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Benjamin Pierce Professor of Technology and Public Policy, Emeritus, and Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, Emeritus, in the Division of Applied Sciences.

In addition to the many committees he served at Harvard, Harvey Brooks chaired the Undersea Warfare Committee of the National Research Council in the 1950s and was a member of the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) for the United State Atomic Energy Commission during that time. From 1959 to 1964 he served as a member of the President's Science Advisory Committee (PSAC) in the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, continuing as a consultant-at-large to PSAC until it was abolished by President Nixon in 1973.   He was a member of the National Science Board from 1962 through 1974, served as chairman of the Committee on Science and Public Policy (COSPUP) of the National Academy of Sciences from 1966 to 1971, and was Chairman of the Commission on Socio-technical Systems of the National Research Council from 1975 to 1979. He was a frequent consultant to the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), and on science and technology policy to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). From 1972 to 1977 he served as a member of the Joint US-USSR Commission on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, and was a member of the United States Committee for the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria.

Harvey Brooks was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and a Senior Member of the Institute of Medicine.   He was also a member of the American Philosophical Society, a member and former president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.   Most recently, Harvey Brooks served as a member of several committees of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) looking into issues of technology in relation to U.S. competitiveness in the world economy.   He co-chaired, with John Foster, the NAE Committee on Technology Policy Options in a Global Economy, which released the report "Mastering a New Role: Shaping Technology Policy for National Economic Performance" in March 1993.   He was also involved in a research program at the Kennedy School of Government dealing with the recasting of national technology policy, and is the author of numerous publications on global environmental policy and risk analysis.

He was an honorary trustee of Case Western Reserve University and of Tufts University, and a member of the Board of Overseers for the College of Engineering at Tufts University.   He was a director of the Council on Library Resources, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Raytheon Company from 1965 to 1993.   He is a former member of the Governing Board of the International Institute for Insect Physiology and Ecology (I.C.I.P.E.) in Nairobi, Kenya, and a former member of the board of directors and advisory council of the Environmental Law Institute.   He was a trustee of the German Marshall Fund of the United States from 1972 to 1986, and was the first Chairman of Board of the Fund from 1972 to 1978.

He was the recipient of honorary doctor of science degrees from Kenyon College, Union College, Yale University, Harvard University, Brown University and the Ohio State University. He was also the 1993 recipient of the Philip Hauge Abelson Prize of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the 1957 recipient of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award of the US Atomic Energy Commission.

In addition to his interest in science and public policy and in teaching, Harvey Brooks enjoyed music and studied music theory.   He spent many summers at the family home in Ripton, VT, with his five children.

He is survived by his wife, Helen (Lathrop) Brooks, of Cambridge, MA; three daughters, Rosalind Stowe of Boston, MA; Alice Bourgoin of Ferrisburg, VT, and Katharine Brooks of Boone, NC; a son, Kingsley Brooks of Fairfield, IA, and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at Harvard University in the fall.


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Harvey Brooks

Harvey Brooks