At the end of the eighteenth century, the average British man was around 168cm tall by the time he reached maturity. By the end of the twentieth century, the average height of mature British men was around 177cm, and similar changes have taken place throughout the developed world. This lecture explores the causes and consequences of these changes for human health, longevity and even productivity. It also explores the implications of the concept of ‘technophysio evolution’. This phrase was coined by Robert Fogel and Dora Costa to describe changes in human development over the last three hundred years. They argued that recent generations ‘have gained an unprecedented degree of control over their environment – a degree of control so great that it sets them apart from all previous generations of homo sapiens’. The lecture examines the extent to which this change lies at the heart of the physical changes which the lecture describes.
The first chapter of the book is available to download here as a 'transcript' for this lecture. This is done so with the permission of Cambridge University Press and the authors, Roderick Floud, Robert W. Fogel, Bernard Harris and Sok Chul Hong.
Full information about the book can be found on the CUP website here: The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World since 1700
Professor of the History of Social Policy at the University of Southampton, Bernard Harris main academic interests are in the history of social policy and social welfare, with a particular focus on health and well-being.
Professor Harris studied history at Cambridge University and was awarded a PhD by the University of London for work on the medical inspection and nutrition of schoolchildren in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century. He joined the University of Southampton in 1991, having previously taught in the Department of Economic and Social History at Bristol University.
He has published articles on a wide range of subjects, from the history of human height to the social consequences of unemployment in interwar Britain. His most recent book is “The Origins of the British Welfare State, a history of social welfare provision in England and Wales from 1800 to 1945”, which was published by Palgrave in 2004.
Professor Sir Roderick Floud FBA is an Honorary Fellow of Gresham College having served as the Provost of Gresham College between 2008 and 2014, taking over the role from Lord Sutherland of Houndwood KT FBA and being followed by Sir Richard Evans FBA. Sir Roderick Floud is President Emeritus of the London Metropolitan University and he was previously the Chairperson of the Standing Committee for the Social Sciences at the European Science Foundation.
His particular interests in part-time and mature students in higher education has been reflected in many of his publications as well as his participation in numerous boards and committees. Of particular note are his roles as President of Universities UK (representing 121 British Universities), Vice-President of the European University Association (where he was particularly involved in the 'Bologna process' of converging European education systems), and Chair of the Social Sciences Committee of the European Science Foundation (representing research councils and learned academies from thirty European Countries). In 2005 he received a knighthood for his services to Higher Education in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Sir Roderick Floud is an economic historian, with publications on topics as diverse as technological change, the use of IT in the study of history, the evolution of technical education and changes in human height, health and welfare. He holds honorary fellowships from Emmanuel College Cambridge, Wadham College Oxford, Birkbeck College London and the Historical Association, as well as honorary degrees from City University London and the University of Westminster. He was elected an Academician of the Social Sciences in 2000 and a Fellow of the British Academy in 2002.