Science and Health for Development
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History of Science and Policy
How to study past thoughts and experiences to make our world better
How can a visionary leader in science and health change the world? Why does a government agency come into being and evolve over time? What is the role of scientific and medical experts in the policymaking process? What is the nature of the nuclear bureaucracy? The Science and Health for Development group conducts historical studies of science, medicine, and public health, and aims to translate the case studies into policy guidance in different social, cultural, and political settings. We explore the power relationship among the stakeholders in science and/or health policy. The subjects of our analysis include: bureaucratic entrepreneurs and professional experts, government agencies and academic programs, corporate interests and civic groups, laws and regulations, nationalism and internationalism, and the programs of international development.
Bureaucratic Entrepreneurship in Science and Health
Buhm Soon Park
This project seeks to elucidate the role of policy entrepreneurs in the development of the nation's scientific infrastructure and healthcare system. I examine the case of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, an engine of the American biomedical research enterprise, for which bureau chiefs and institute directors created cooperative relations with professional experts and built strategic alliances with influential politicians and citizens. Furthermore, I intend to explore the political implications of the expert-bureaucrat relationship in a democratic society.
The Organization of Scientific Knowledge
Jeehyun Kim and Buhm Soon Park
This project explores the ways in which the government's science policy affected the course of development in academic disciplines. It analyzes the notable organizational changes that took place in the biology departments of Seoul National University (SNU) and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in the 1980s and 1990s. By comparing and contrasting these cases, it aims to show different yet convergent aims of science in the two government-supported universities with the implementation of performance-based evaluation systems.
The Global Politics of Health and Disease
Kyuri Kim and Buhm Soon Park
Starting with the premise that disease is more than a biological phenomenon, this project explores sociopolitical factors of global scale embedded in health policy. It intends to show that the development of Korean tuberculosis management policy in the second half of the twentieth century was shaped not only by domestic health concerns but also by global health initiatives. The interplay between national health organizations and international NGOs such as WHO and World Bank, for instance, created discourses of disease management that placed more emphasis upon economic benefits and national pride than aspects of social benefits and individual dignity. This case study will thus shed light on the global politics of health and disease, as Korean tuberculosis policy has been seen as a "success story" and yet far from the level of developed countries.
The Politics of Environmental Health
YeonSil Kang and Buhm Soon Park
Health risks of environmental origin intersect two policy realms: environmental policy and public health policy. This project analyzes the case of asbestos, a highly toxic mineral that had been mined, manufactured, and widely used in industry until recently, by asking how asbestos emerged as a environmental health problem in Korea. It aims to show that multiple stakeholders—scientists, social activists, policy-makers, and patients altogether—shape the meanings of environmental health risks and find the ways to manage them. This study will also provide a deeper understanding of the politics of environmental health manifested in the scientific, legal, and policy debates.
Biosafety in Transnational Context
Taemin Woo and Buhm Soon Park
With the advent of engineered biological materials and their growing significance in society, the issue of biosafety has drawn much attention from scientists, policymakers, and civic activists, who are concerned about both profitability and risk of biotechnology. This project aims to problematize the concept of biosafety in order to understand its genealogies, imaginaries, and practices in different social settings: university laboratories, industrial factories, hospital wards, and transnational conferences. In particular, it seeks to contribute to the recent attempt to forge a transnational governance of synthetic biology by participating in the on-line, off-line international forums for discussing biosafety of synthesized life materials in the broad context of biodiversity and environmental concerns.
Legal Regime of Pharmaceutical Industry
Chul Choi and Buhm Soon Park
This project explores the interaction between law and science in the pharmaceutical industry, which is a knowledge-based and R&D intensive industry subject to strict regulatory regime. We analyze the U.S. Hatch-Waxman Act—a law designed to allow generic manufacturers to develop drugs before the patent expiration—which provides a meaningful window to look into the political aspect of technology in pharmaceutical industry and policy implications in balancing the conflicting interests within the society. Our research focuses on impact of intellectual property laws and related legal framework on R&D in pharmaceutical industry.
Standards and Science Diplomacy
Do Young Lee and Buhm Soon Park
This project examines the national standards policy not as a set of technical statements but as a diplomatic document that moves across national borders. It unpacks the complexity of that "border crossing" from the perspective of cultural interactions in specific historical contexts. It compares and contrasts the two case studies—the establishment of a national standards institute in Korea in the 1970s under the influence of the U.S. and the current ODA efforts to "export" Korean experiences to developing countries. This study will illuminate the tension—and discrepancies—between general goals of standards policy and their local practices and implementations.
Brain Research Policy in Comparative Perspective
Youjung Shin and Buhm Soon Park
This project seeks to understand the nature of what is called "convergence research" in its social, cultural, and political context. To this end, we analyze the case of brain research by examining how the policy for its development has been initiated, designed, and implemented in various countries, including U.S., U.K., Japan, and Korea. This cross-national comparative study will allows us to find the commonalities and differences of convergence research policy—the commonalities in the area of setting national goals for reaping potential economic benefits, and the differences in the area of coordinating stakeholders from diverse disciplines and debating the social and cultural meanings of investigating the mind.
The Political Construction of Nuclear Transparency
Sung Yoon Park and Buhm Soon Park
This project aims to show that the concept of nuclear transparency, no matter what technical contents it may have, is a political term that intends to control and limit a certain area of nuclear research. It examines the origins of this concept in the historical setting of global nuclear governance in the 1990s and its introduction to Korea thereafter. The focal point of this study is the 2004 nuclear scandal regarding Korea's past undeclared nuclear experiments suspected as a step toward making a bomb. As nuclear transparency was at the center of the tension between IAEA and the Korean government, this case will show the ways in which this concept was implemented in Korea amidst IAEA's broad goal of expanding its new safeguard regime with additional protocols.