David Packham




Materials Research Centre, University of Bath

Fellow of the Science Studies Centre, University of Bath

Life Member of Court, University of Bath


Telephone:     +44 (0) 1225 386569
Fax:                 +44 (0) 1225 386928


E-mail Address: D.E.Packham@bath.ac.uk


Postal Address:


Materials Research Centre,

University of Bath,

Claverton Down,

Bath, BA2 7AY,


United Kingdom.


After teaching in the School of Materials Science (which evolved into the Materials Research Centre) since the 1970s, I retired in 2004. My research interests include polymer/metal adhesion, crosslink structure and properties of rubber, the nature of university education and the public understanding of science. Since 2004, I have continued my academic interests by teaching both in Bath and in other universities in the U.K. and abroad, by presenting papers at international conferences and by writing in research journals. I do some work as a scientific consultant.

University Education

            Many people consider that there is a sense of crisis in universities, perhaps especially in science and engineering departments. Although resources for teaching and research are a continual problem, it can be argued that the crisis is fundamentally an intellectual one. It may be associated with a shift from the concrete "certainties" inherited from the eighteenth century Enlightenment to the subtleties and uncertainties of contemporary society which are encapsulated in the term "postmodern". This shift has undermined the concept of a university as an institution which taught universally accepted knowledge, firmly based on reason. This has profound implications for the way in which we educate students. These are discussed in the attached paper [text]. It is argued that students should be helped to see a broad vision of their subject and its relation to other disciplines. In this way they may appreciate how, in a variety of areas of human activity, different modes of reasoning and methods of proof may operate, and different concepts of "truth" may be acceptable. Exposure to controversy and the practice of debate should encourage students and to reach (tentative) conclusions in the face of incomplete and uncertain data. Examples are given of how these ideas might be implemented in a science degree course.

Academic Freedom

When in 1988 the rectors of the leading European universities met to celebrate the ninth centenary of the University of Bologna, they issued a declaration – the Magna Charta of European Universities [link] – reiterating a number of fundamental principles they considered necessary for the proper function of a university. These included academic freedom - freedom of teaching and research – and the closely-related to the principle of university autonomy. In the words of the Magna Charta,

"To meet the needs of the world around, its research and teaching must be morally and intellectually independent of all political authority and economic power".

            These principles of academic freedom have deep roots in European culture. They are unambiguously reinforced in this University by the Statement on Academic Freedom approved by the Senate. They are, however, under constant attack by those powerful interests who see no purpose of universities beyond serving "the needs of an adaptable, sustainable, knowledge-based economy". British universities have long experience of this attack through increased political direction resulting from Margaret Thatcher's centralisation of educational power. The 1999 agreement of European Ministers of Education on the harmonisation of higher education is being used as a vehicle for bringing analogous changes throughout European higher education. These questions are explored in a paper prepared for the  Bulletin of the European Liaison Committee, July 2006.  [English] ; [Français] ; [Español]


Research Interests

These include

Polymer/metal adhesion The relationship between the surface pretreatments and the magnitude of adhesion; the effects of surface roughness on adhesion; silicones, epoxies, natural rubber, polyolefins, polyvinyl acetate; mould release in rubber processing.


Polymer/polymer adhesion Adhesion of laminates of ethylene-octene "thermoplastic elastomers" to polypropylene; effect of moulding conditions and mechanical properties of the copolymers on the interfacial morphology and adhesion.


Crosslink structure and properties of rubber Network changes occurring during thermo-oxidative ageing of sulphur-cured N.B.R. vulcanizates have been characterised by treatment with chemical probes followed by crosslink density measurement.


The nature of university education The traditional ideas of university autonomy and academic freedom have undergone significant erosion in recent years. Are these ideas any longer relevant in the postmodern era? Can (and indeed should) they survive in the global market economy?


Miscellaneous Links

"Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. ....... [which is] totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology on which we depend for survival." [link]


Recent Courses

Research students' training programme Ethical and professional responsibility.


I.C.A.M. Lille, Professeur invité, Département Energétique Degradation of Materials


Science Studies Centre, M.Sc. students The Myths we live by. Ethical Issues at the University-Industry Interface.


Science of Adhesion M.Sc. University of Surrey. The Adhesion of Polymers to Metals: The Rôle of Surface Topography. Kinetics of Failure. Adhesive Technology and the Sustainability of the Environment.


Practice of Science A second year course for Natural Science and Biology and Biochemistry concerned with the nature and organisation of science. XX20171; BB20152.


Some Conference Papers

The price of progress? Cashing in on Science. Debate, British Association Annual Meeting, Leicester, Sept. 2002.


Fractals: their significance in adhesion, Swiss Bonding Conference, Rapperswil, May, 2004.


Polymer technology: adhesives, mould release and pretreatments, Mahidol University, Bangkok, September 2004.


The Roughness of Surfaces and Adhesion: How are they related? 2004 Beijing International Bonding Technology Symposium, 16th-18th Oct.2004, Beijing, China.


Adhesive technology and the sustainability of the environment, Society for Adhesion & Adhesives, conference "Greener Adhesives and Sealants" London, 5th December 2007


Fundamentals of Adhesion. Adhesion theories: an historical perspective and a contemporary assessment, 1st  International Congress on Bonding and Adhesion, Chennai, India, February 2008.


The Roughness of Engineering Surfaces and its Influence on Practical Adhesion. 2nd International Conference on Advanced Computational Engineering and Experimenting, Barcelona, July 2008.


Easy release and "non-sticking": An overview of fundamental principles Society for Adhesion & Adhesives, conference, Society of Chemical Industry, London, 23rd April 2009.


Adhesion and bioadhesion- an overview of their historical development, Swiss Bonding Conference, Rapperswil, May, 2009.



Selected Publications

David Packham, What is Academic Freedom and why is it important? Based on: Bulletin of the Association of University Teachers, AUTLOOK April 2002, p. 4 [text]

D.E. Packham Summer Reading for the Dearing Committee, THES, 2.8.96 Guest Leading Article [text ]

Mary Tasker and David Packham, Industry and Academy - a Faustian Contract? [ text ]

L. Godail and D.E. Packham, Adhesion of ethylene-octene copolymers to polypropylene: Interfacial structure and mechanical properties, J. Adhesion Sci. Technol. 15(11), 1305(2001).

D.E. Packham, Mould sticking, fouling and cleaning, RAPRA Review Reports, 13,(6) 2002

D.E. Packham, Surface Roughness and Adhesion  in Adhesion Science and Engineering, Vol. II, Surfaces, Chemistry and Applications, Assoc. Ed. Manoj K. Chaudhury and A.V. Pocius, Elsevier, 2002, p. 317-349.

David Packham G.A.T.S. and Universities: implications for research, Sci Eng Ethics 9, 85-100(2003). [text]

G.R. Evans and D.E. Packham, Ethical Issues at the University-Industry Interface: a Way Forward? Sci Eng Ethics 9, 3-16(2003).

D.E. Packham, Mechanical theory of adhesion in Handbook of Adhesive Technology, 2nd edition Marcel Dekker ed A. Pizzi and K.L. Mittal (2003).

D.E. Packham, Surface energy, surface topography and adhesion, Int. J. Adhesion Adhesives  23, 437(2003).

D.E. Packham (ed.), Handbook of Adhesion, 2nd edition, Wiley, 2005. [link]

A.N. Towo, M.P. Ansell, Marie-Laetitia Pastor, and D.E. Packham, “Weibull analysis of microbond shear strength at sisal fibre–polyester resin interfaces” Composite Interfaces, 12(1), 77-93(2005).

G.R. Evans and D.E. Packham, Ethical Issues at the University-Industry Interface: a Way Forward? in R. Barrow and P. Keeney (eds.) Academic Ethics, Ashgate, 2006,  p. 167 - 180.

David E. Packham, Academic Freedom and 21st Century European Universities, Logos: Anales del Seminario de Metafísica  no. 40, 331-341, (2007). [text]

Gareth J. Price, Marie-Laetitia Pastor, Arnold N. Towo, Martin P. Ansell and David E. Packham, Shear strength at Sisal fibre – polyester resin interfaces: use of inverse gas chromatography to study pretreatment effects. Composite Interfaces, 14(1), 21-31(2007).

D.E. Packham, Some contributions of surface analysis to the development of adhesion theories, J. Adhesion  84, 240–255(2008).

D.E. Packham, Adhesive technology and sustainability, Int. J. Adhesion Adhesives 29, 248-252(2009).

D.E. Packham, Discontinuities at the interface and adhesion, J. Adhesion  in press 2010.

D. E. Packham, Theories of fundamental adhesion in Handbook of Adhesion Technology, (eds. R. D. Adams, A. Oechsner, and L. da Silva), Springer to be published 2010.


[University of Bath]

Revised 2. 2 .10