The Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) was established on 1 January 1995 by Professor Johann Mouton as an inter-disciplinary research centre of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Stellenbosch University. At that time it was named the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies (CENIS) and focused on cross-cutting issues in the humanities and the social sciences including the philosophy and methodology of the social sciences, values studies and evaluation studies. Over the course of the 1990s its focus began to shift as it increasingly became involved in science studies. In order to reflect the shift in focus, the name of the Centre was changed to the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) in 2010. At the same time, CREST was accorded a dual status by the university: that of an interdisciplinary research centre and an academic department offering postgraduate programmes. As to the latter, CREST had already introduced a Masters’ programme in Science and Technology Studies (1997) and a doctoral programme in STS (1998).

Over time CREST has grown to become the largest academic department in the fields of science and technology studies and monitoring evaluation studies in South Africa. CREST established a Post-Graduate Diploma in Monitoring and Evaluation Methods in 2006 (with funding support by the Carnegie Corporation of New York), followed by a Masters’ programme (MPhil) in Monitoring and Evaluation studies, and the first PhD in Evaluation Studies in the country in 2012.

As a research centre CREST has also expanded significantly in the areas of science studies being increasingly commissioned by the then Department of Science and Technology, the Academy of Science of South Africa, the Council for Higher Education, the Department of Higher Education and Training, USAf, NRF and other agencies to conduct science and innovation policy studies.

Since 1 April 2014, CREST has been host to the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (SciSTIP). In addition, CREST hosted the South African Research Chair in Science Communication (SciCOM) from 1 January 2015 to 31 January 2023.