OBITUARY: Professor Geoffrey Goodwin
Tuesday 09 May 1995
Geoffrey Goodwin was one of the principal builders of the International Relations department at the London School of Economics and of professional international studies in Britain. However, his academic life was in effect his third - though much his longest - career, after being a regular soldier and a member of the Foreign Office.
The son of a clergyman, after Marlborough College Goodwin passed through the Royal Military College at Sandhurst to become a regular army officer. Enlisting in the Suffolk Regiment in 1936, he transferred to the Army Physical Training Staff, and then when the Second World War came was put into Combined Operations. He had become a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (popularly known by the name of its elegant building, Chatham House) in April 1942, an early indication of what was to become an abiding interest for the young army officer. His last army post was as Major Commanding Independent Company, Gibraltar. He was invalided out of the Army with polio in 1943 and it was while in hospital in Oxford that he started to read for a London University BSc degree in Economics which he completed in 1945 at LSE.
Goodwin was a member of the Foreign Office in the Reconstruction Department from 1945 until 1948, when he left to become a lecturer in International Relations at LSE. This remained his base, a main object of his wide and deep loyalties until well after his retirement in the early 1980s; but he maintained and extended his Whitehall army contacts and was tutor to LSE's Foreign Service Course from 1955 to 1964. He also acted as a consultant to the Civil Service College, where he was involved in training administrative officers for Britain's entry into the European Community.
At LSE in the 1940s and 1950s, he was principally concerned to lecture and write on economic aspects of international matters and to encourage the spread of teaching of international relations not only at LSE but elsewhere. It was Goodwin who was the progenitor and sustainer of a series of meetings within the Bailey Conferences between school and university teachers which, tongue in cheek, he labelled the "Beaks and Dons" sessions. These were succeeded by the launch of the British International Studies Association (BISA), in which he was a prime mover.
As he became Reader in 1958 and from 1962 Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at London University (tenable at the LSE), Goodwin became an institution-builder in earnest. He was an assiduous and influential committee man who succeeded admirably, as convener of the International Relations department (and for a time as Vice-Chairman of LSE's notoriously self-willed Academic Board), in his aim to stabilise and then extend the department and to enhance its reputation in the school and the wider world after the pioneering but rather idiosyncratic leadership of his predecessor, Professor Charles Manning. The department is now one of the biggest and most international of all the departments at the LSE.
Modest about his own scholarship, Goodwin revealed in his range of publications his distinctive capacity for constructive teamwork, especially with younger colleagues. In 1951 he edited a long pamphlet, The University Teaching of International Relations, which was a vade-mecum on his subject for post-war Britain. His 1958 study Britain and the United Nations, though the fruit of a Chatham House study group, owed its unity of theme and argument and clarity of exposition to Goodwin's skills. Thereafter, a small stream of articles and books edited by Goodwin appeared, the titles of the latter accurately indicating his interests: New Dimensions of World Politics (1975); A New International Commodity Regime (1979); Ethics and Nuclear Deterrence (1982). He had friends and contacts throughout the English-speaking scholarly world, nourished by academic leave in Princeton, California, Geneva and Canberra.
A military-looking man with a heavy stick or sticks, mostly of good cheer even when stoically in pain, Goodwin was conspicuous stomping around his reputedly left-wing institution, and yet always commanded respect and affection from his students. He was an alert, encouraging tutor and chairman of seminars. He was hospitable to but discriminating with new ideas and techniques, good at asking pertinent questions, summing up arguments, and at moving digressive discussion back to main streams and themes. He put in long hours at the school, often sleeping on a camp-bed in his room or staying at a nearby hotel, and was a generous benefactor to the school's library. His teas and Derby Day picnics at his Epsom home, as well as his enthusiasm for student weekends at Cumberland Lodge in Windsor Great Park endeared him to his many bed-sit British and foreign students.
Goodwin was associated with St Catharine's Foundation at Cumberland Lodge, virtually from its inception just after the Second World War as a centre for residential study weekends for students of London University, and was particularly concerned with how in modern times St Cath's moral and Christian bent could be expressed. In 1971 he had a sabbatical year and went to St Catharine's as full-time Principal. He suggested that the appointment should become part-time and he might combine being Principal with his Chair at LSE; the Trustees however did not agree. He was a member of the World Council of Churches Committee for International Affairs from 1968 to 1975, and also of the Church of England Men's Society.
Goodwin practised his recreations of painting, sketching and singing whenever his busy academic life permitted. He was a member of Epsom Choral Society and of various art classes right until his death. He occasionally made wry but shrewd comments on some of his close colleagues' efforts at painting.
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