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History of Science and Policy

Home RESEARCHResearch Group History of Science and Policy

History of Science and Policy

How to critically understand the coproduction of scientific knowledge and social order

This research group investigates the role of historical actors, institutions, and laws in coproducing scientific knowledge and social order. We are interested in examining not only political powers and cultural values embedded in technoscientific systems but also the moral order of society shaped by new and emerging ideas. We employ comparative perspectives (cross-national) and conceptual tools developed in the history of science and technology, the history of medicine and public health, and STS. The topics of our study include: expertise and lay knowledge, law and science, transparency and openness, global health, ethics and justices, safety and risk, transnational governance, big science and mega-projects.

Project

  • Science, Law, and Governance

    Buhm Soon Park

    This project explores policy issues at the intersection between science, law, and governance from historical and comparative perspective. Buhm Soon currently works on the imaginaries of biomedicine in the U.S., focusing on the history of the National Institutes of Health, and examines the debates over new and emerging technologies like synthetic biology and genome editing in East Asia.

  • Global Health Policy

    Kyuri Kim and Buhm Soon Park

    Based on the premise that disease is more than a biological phenomenon, this project investigates the relationship between sociopolitical factors and national disease control policy. This study pays specific attention to how global contexts have been embedded into national disease control programs in postcolonial states in the mid-twentieth century. Global health initiatives such as those launched via international organizations, philanthropic foundations, bilateral aid have had exceptional power in explicitly guiding and/or implicitly influencing health policy in recipient countries. However, much of this history remains to be investigated. This research group specifically focuses on the birth and development of South Korea’s national tuberculosis management program and its practices on the field in order to demonstrate that the introduction of tuberculosis policy in the early-1960s and the practices thereof, were more than a result of scientific and medical knowledge in the face of local health concerns. Rather, they were just as much a product of the the government’s sociopolitical interest intertwined with those of the global health initiatives, at times working in synergy or in conflict with each other. This study aims to contribute to the growing scholarly field of postcolonial medicine and history of international health, and simultaneously endeavors to resonate with concerns faced by contemporary policy and field experts in health and disease control.

  • Biosafety of Synthetic Biology

    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.

  • Intellectual Property in Society

    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 encourage market entry by generic drug manufacturers and to maintain incentives for continued innovation by research-based pharmaceutical companies—and its diffusion into other jurisdictions, 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 and stakeholders in society.

  • Standardization of Risks

    Do Young Lee and Buhm Soon Park

    This project explores the process of generating a standard model for brain health, particularly for stroke risk assessment in the context of building a national standards reference data system in Korea. It examines the ways in which a large number of health information of individuals are encoded as ‘data’ to create a standardized model for determining the health of the brain. In particular, this research traces the development of statistical maps for diagnosing a brain disease, White Matter Hyperintensities (WMHs), to illustrate how the concept of ‘certified risk’ is generated and put to use in Korean society. This project thus aims to shed light on the contemporary risk governing practices by analyzing an interplay among various actors, such as researchers, policy makers, clinical practitioners who are trying to gain a certain level of objectivity, accuracy, and reliability for governing public health risks within the framework of making standards.

  • Brain Research Policy

    Youjung Shin and Buhm Soon Park

    This project aims to examine the formation of big science and its meaning especially in a small country like South Korea. To this end, we analyze the case of brain research in Korea and the U.S by focusing on the development of three strands – molecularization, informatization, and policy innovation – in various studies of the brain. This historical and cross-national comparative study will allow us to find a relation between the modes of governance in brain research and the modes of understanding the brain in a particular way. This study will illuminate the meaning of bigness in brain research and its impact on investigating the brain in a certain social and cultural context.