Science, Technology and Society

Cluster Projects

1.
Project Name
Asian Biopoleis: Biotech. & Biomedicine as Emergent Forms of Life and Practice
 
Description
With its Biopolis and related facilities, Singapore has established itself as a globally recognized centre for the development of biotechnology and biomedicine. The knowledge and practices that are emerging here have scientific, medical and economic significance,and are particularly aimed at generating breakthrough biomedical applications and therapies. Their significance does not stop there, however: the emergent forms of life and practice in Singapore and other Asian centres of excellence in biotech research have the potential to affect and re-order everything from the mechanics and meaning of ‘scientific research’ in the 21st century, to contemporary understandings of life, race, ethnicity, nation, and citizenship.

It is therefore important that biotechnology/biomedicine initiatives in this part of the world are accompanied by sustained research into their social, historical, cultural, political and philosophical aspects. In this project, carried out by an interdisciplinary team of academics and supported by distinguished overseas collaborators, we trace the historical trajectories of Asian biotechnology, and how these contribute to its strong emergence at the present moment. We also trace networks of collaboration and influence in various areas of biotechnology and the life sciences, as these are developing in Singapore and on pan-Asian and global scales. Finally, we trace connections between the scientific content and the context of biotechnology and biomedical initiatives. Singapore’s Biopolis, for example, is a site for data collection, theorization, experimentation, and material support, but also for policy initiatives, institution-building, and social and educational reform.
 
Investigator(s)
Gregory CLANCEY (PI), Ryan BISHOP, John PHILLIPS, Michael M.J. FISCHER, V V KRISHNA, Edison LIU, Philip CHO, Catelijne COOPMANS, John DIMOIA, Axel GELFERT, Denisa KERA, Alfred MONTOYA, Karen WINZOSKI
2.
Project Name
Mapping the Technological and Cultural Landscape of Scientific Development in Asia
 
Description
Scientific and technological advancement lay at the heart of any notion of the historical emergence of a Global Asia that extends beyond national or regional borders to encompass rapidly changing worldwide networks of expertise, infrastructure, and research agendas. There is a pressing need to empirically analyze the potential of Big Science research, now the dominant model throughout the region, to truly transform Asian cities into aspiring global command posts of knowledge production. A clear map of these urban centers of innovation and their activities spanning across a multicultural landscape is vital to navigate Singapore’s future.

This project charts the shifting centers of Big Science research in Asia and their evolving global networks within the context of different understandings of a scientific revival or Renaissance in China, India, Singapore, and the Middle East. The distinctive developmental pattern of scientific traditions, careers, communities and institutions in each region leading up to the establishment of current large-scale research facilities will be compared. At issue is whether these new hubs anchor the changing shape of global science networks and drive research agendas. A multidisciplinary team of social and computer scientists will also develop an interactive mapping and database system using computerized data-mining to historically track the flow of scientists and their research outputs as “knowledge vectors” along networks of international Big Science facilities.
3.
Project Name
Culture and Cognition
 
Description
Research in both the social and cognitive sciences has increasingly focused on the complex dynamic between cultural meaning and practices with cognitive processes. From the sociology of science to the anthropology of religion, cultural studies have taken a cognitive turn to explore a wide range of topics including distributed cognition in technological systems, memory and religious rituals, and the neuroeconomics of decisions about risk. Cognitive neuroscientists have likewise begun to more closely examine how culture influences cognition in areas such as perception and attention, healing and placebo effects, language processing and speech disorders, and even the psychosomatics of meditation.

Emerging out of this multidisciplinary interest in culture and cognition is a new understanding of the plasticity of embodiment that emphasizes change in how cultural practices, human cognition and behavior, and even the natural environment influence each other. Cultural change and neurocognitive plasticity are the result of active human agency rather than purely passive inscription by social, technological, or biological systems.
 
Investigator(s)
4.
Project Name
Fabrications: Technology, Masculinity, and Architectural Modernism
 
Description
This book project complements my previous monograph Earthquake Nation: The Cultural Politics of Japanese Seismicity (U. of California Press, 2006), which also dealt the nexus between technology, architecture, and the politics of culture. The current project is more geographically ambitious, however, tracing its subject across three principle sites (the US, Japan, and Singapore) over half a century (roughly 1925-1975). My argument is that architecture turned strongly toward technology as a strategic professional and symbolic tool in an atmosphere of crisis, and one which had much to do with a collective sense of lost masculinity. The technology I'm most interested in is prefabrication, which promised to turn building - particularly the crucial housing market - into a mass-production industry over which a newly-revitalized architectural profession would have creative control.
 
Awarding Body
MOE Academic Research Fund, Singapore
 
Investigator(s)
5.
Project Name
Death, Grieving and Memorialization in a Broadband–Enabled Society
 
Description
In broadband-enabled societies people’s experiences of death and death related practices including grieving, mourning and remembrance are being disembedded as communities tied to a traditional notion of place are eroded. However, the rise of networked individualism through broadband technologies and services also supports new connectivities, networks and practices and therefore potential support through networked communities.

This project is examining particular, situated examples of remembering, memorialising, grieving, recovering, disposing and forgetting and contemporary notions of performance and audience, time and place, membership and publics, sacred and sacrilegious. It is also considering modern trends of communion and networked individualism associated with death and death-related practices.

Connor Graham's work on the project has an Asian focus and includes examining memorials in China and researching suicides on the Tokyo underground system in Japan, both from the point of view of design.
 
Description
Online since 2002, The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (or Darwin Online) is the largest and most widely consulted edition of the writings of Darwin ever published. More copies of Darwin's works have been downloaded from Darwin Online than have been printed by all publishers of the past 180 years combined. The site is one of the world’s major publications in the history of science. Since October 2006 the site has been visited over 200 million times and from every country on earth. The website contains over 97,000 pages of searchable text and 213,000 electronic images, at least one exemplar of all known Darwin publications, reproduced to the highest scholarly standards, both as searchable text and electronic images of the originals. The majority of these have been edited and annotated for the first time with thousands of original editorial notes.

The website also provides the largest collection of Darwin's private papers and manuscripts ever published: c. 20,000 items in c. 100,000 images, thanks primarily to the kind permission of Cambridge University Library.

All of Darwin's unpublished manuscripts are being scanned, transcribed or both, if reproduction permission can be obtained. All previously published manuscript transcriptions are included (except where reproduction permission could not be obtained). Overall the site provides the world's largest collection of material on and by Darwin - almost all of it online only here.
 
Awarding Body
Private donation
 
Investigator(s)
7.
Project Name
 
Description
Wallace Online is a research project dedicated to the life and work of the explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913). Wallace studied the natural history of the Malay Archipelago (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia) from 1854-1862. In 1858 he famously conceived of the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently of Charles Darwin. Writings by both men, outlining the theory, were published in the same year.

Similarly to Darwin Online, the Wallace Online project will produce a free scholarly website which will offer Wallace’s complete publications, and also many of his unpublished private papers. The project is in collaboration with Charles S. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page and the Natural History Museum (London).

In addition, the project is creating a union catalogue of Wallace’s unpublished private papers in various archives around the world, a complete day-by-day itinerary of Wallace’s movements in South East Asia, and other original research on science and exploration in Wallace’s time in South East Asia.

The donation supports a full time Senior Research Fellow, Dr Kees Rookmaaker, who also worked for the Darwin Online project at the University of Cambridge (2005-9) and whose experience and expertise are an invaluable asset. We hope to launch the Wallace Online website in 2011 and complete the project in time for the centenary of Wallace’s death in 2013.
 
Awarding Body
Private donation
 
Investigator(s)
1.
Project Name
India and China: Scientific Communities to Innovation Systems
 
Description
The last decade witnessed the rise of China and India as important global players in the world economic system. Quite diverse socio-political and economic strategies were adopted in the organization of science and technology institutions and promotion of higher learning over the last five decades. Despite varying strategies, they shared similar goals of building national scientific and technological capacities towards development and economic growth in the post-war period. The main theme underlying this book project is that science and technology (S&T) systems with varying institutional arrangements are the basic building blocks on which innovation systems emerge over a period of time. The project seeks to advance the existing understanding of innovation systems from an evolutionary perspective by drawing on case studies from India and China. In doing so, the study brings together, for the first time, various facets in state mediation, S&T policy cultures, national, global and other institutional processes in a comparative and historical perspective.
 
Awarding Body
 
Investigator(s)
2.
Project Name
Impacting Economy and Society: Role of Universities in Asia-Pacific
 
Description
The rise of Asia in the global knowledge-based economy in the last decade is closely associated with the rise of knowledge institutions of higher learning and scientific research. Even in the midst of an economic down-turn, public policies of the leading economies of Asia continue to assign a very high priority to promote institutions of higher learning and research. In a way, this is closely associated with the success of knowledge-based industries first in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan; and in recent years in China and India. Three features stand out and are indicative of the trend. The first is the tremendous growth of “human and knowledge capital” made possible by teaching and research excellence in the leading universities. Historically speaking, most leading universities in Asia have been performing these roles so as to make an impact on their societies and economies. However what is of significance is the development of a second feature of coupling teaching/research with innovation and at the same time forging university–private sector links with various actors in national systems of innovation (NSI). Universities are being re-positioned as frontiers of innovation in this NSI, given that most new technologies (biotechnology, nano, new materials, ICTs etc.) have become science-based. The third is the impact of globalization or globalization of innovation and the emergence of “new knowledge sites” now extended to the Asian region.

This is a networking collaborative project involving fifteen STS scholars in the Asia-Pacific region. These scholars will contribute country case studies which will result in an edited volume.
 
Awarding Body
 
Investigator(s)
3.
Project Name
Research and Innovation Policies—India
 
Description
The project seeks to map the growth, governance and developments relating to research and innovation policies in the Indian national innovation system. The project is part of the larger networking project involving 27 European countries and five non-European developed and emerging economies such as India, Brazil and China.
 
Awarding Body
Consultancy project awarded by European Union based Networks called ERAWATCH and TrendChart
 
Investigator(s)