Research in Science, Technology, Society


From professor's privilege to entrepeneurial universities: Policies of patenting and commercialization in Sweden 1940-2000
The Reform Technocrats: The Strategists of the Strong State, 1930–80
Biomedicum: documenting the move of research
Face of Aids Archive: the anthology
The book of scandals

The paths of chemical and medical knowledge between Europe and South America from the 18th to the 20th century
Sectoral research as a contested concept in Sweden
The cycles of cycling: Practises and Socio-Technical Transitions in Urban Transport
The character of science
Driving reinvestment in R&D for antibiotics and advocating their responsible use
 

From professor's privilege to entrepeneurial universities: Policies of patenting and commercialization in Sweden 1940-2000

The aim with the project, managed by Ingemar Pettersson, is to study changes of the role of universities in R&D policy in Sweden on the basis of patents and property rights. This will fill a singificant void in the literature on the history of Swedish R&D policies, and will also pave the way for at critical and important discussion of the role of the universities. The point of departure is the "professor´s privilage", a legal principle established in the 1940s that gave scientists in universities the right to patent their own research; an exception for other patent law which gave the right to take patents to the employer. Since some decades, there has emerged a criticism of the professor's privilege, that some claim to be an obstacle for universities to become more business-like and "entreprenurial". The professors privilge still remains, despite recurring debate and political investigations. The project is carried out through a number of case studies such as the political process around the adoption of the professor's privilege in the 1940s; the emergence of organizations for patenting and commercialization of university research; the political movement for making universities entrepreneurial drivers of innovation; and how patents have become tools to measure, audit and rank universities.

The Reform Technocrats: The Strategists of the Strong State, 1930–80

The Reform Technocrats is a project managed by Per Lundin and Niklas Stenlås. The history of contemporary Sweden has been centered around the creation of the welfare state. By emphasizing the role of a new group of “strategists” in the planning and build-up of the strong state during and after Second World War, the attempt is to add a new dimension to the interpretation of the emergence of the Swedish welfare state. Generally, the role of engineers, planners, scientists and other professionals has been thought of as secondary to that of political leaders and visionaries. Expertise may have been important but seldom in other capabilities than as the executors of political directives. Based partly on preliminary results from own research, partly on research on other countries, the point of departure is that this is not an accurate description.

The aim with this project is to investigate a group of architects, economists, engineers, planners and scientists that populated the government committees as experts, led the institutions, advised the government and eventually advanced to director generals or state secretaries in the new, institutionalized “scientific” state. Based on preliminary results, these are understood not only as an instrument of the strong, active state, but also the primary actors, initiators and architects of the many state initiatives - the reform technocrats. For more information, please contact per.lundin at ekhist.uu.se or niklas.stenlas at ekhist.uu.se.

Biomedicum: documenting the move of research

Karolinska Institutet is building new research facilities. In Solna five theoretical institutions will relocate into one large building that is under construction. But what will the implications for research, organisation and practice of this relocation be?  Through interviews and ethnographic fieldwork, the project aims to document this transformation, both by looking at the process of envisioning and realizing the research laboratory but also by documenting the laboratories that will be abandoned. Principal investigator in the project is Daniel Normark, researcher at the STS Centre, Uppsala university and medical history and heritage unit, Karolinska Institutet. Five students from the sociology department, Uppsala university are also participating in the fieldwork. 

Face of Aids Archive: the anthology

Staffan Hildebrand, documentary filmmaker, has for over 30 years documented the HIV/AIDS pandemic resulting in several films. His entire production of raw-footage and interviews have been made accessible for research through a collaboration with Karolinska institutets library (KIB), the face of aids archive. Daniel Normark is contributing with a chapter as part of an anthology where different scholars use this archive to write about the disease. 

The book of scandals

This anthology project focus on controversies and events in the history of medicine and science focusing on the different requirements of practices and processes that became labeled unethical or scandalous. Daniel Normark, from STS Centre is writing together with Olof Ljungström on the chain of thoracic surgeons that operated on the borderline between villain and hero. 

The paths of chemical and medical knowledge between Europe and South America from the 18th to the 20th century

The project, headed by Hjalmar Fors is a collaboration between CESIMA, Sao Paolo, Brazil and History of Ideas, Uppsala university, focusing on investigations and comparisons into how knowledge travelled and travels globally from c. 1700 to the present. Theoretically we wish to investigate how colonies of European powers interacted with regions of Europe that were outside of the colonial orbit, by looking at examples of Swedish-South American exchanges. A key question is what role the major centres of colonial and economic power played as obligatory points of passage for knowledge and concepts, and interpretations. Daniel Normark, from STS centre, participates in this project with a study on the thoracic surgeon Clarence Crafoord’s four educational trips to South America

Sectoral research as a contested concept in Sweden

"Sectoral research as a contested concept in Sweden", is a (three year) project managed by Magnus Eklund. The project employs a conceptual historical perspective to follow the concept of "sectoral research" in the Swedish research policy discussion from the 1960s and onwards, with a focus on its rhetorical use by various actors. The concept has passed through a number of important debates. In the 1960s and 1970s sectoral research denoted research procured from universities by various government agencies, in order to produce a scientific ground for government policy. In the 1980s and 1990s there was less faith in the ability of the government to guide societal development, and the concept instead entered the debate on university autonomy and freedom. The concept became stretched to encompass all kinds of instrumentally oriented research, where bureaucrats rather than researchers controlled the allocation of funding and the formulation of problems. It was also increasingly filled with normative connotation and associated with research of poor quality. After the year 2000 the concept appears to have largely disappeared from the Swedish debate.

The cycles of cycling: Practises and Socio-Technical Transitions in Urban Transport

This project, managed by Martin Emanuel, questions the contemporary discussion about technology and sustainability which focus in innovation as the exclusive reald of new technology. The project will instead examine the rise, decline, and partial revival of the bicycle in Swedish and Dutch cities, with the purpose to gain insight in how the re-introduction of "old" technologies differs from the innovation process for new technologies. It is suggested that such repurposing depends on the material and cultural remnants from the historical co-evolution of cycling practices and planning efforts. The proposed project examines, firstly, how historical cycling practises in Sweden and Netherlands have emerged, evovled, disappeared, and even reappeared again, during the course of the 20th century. Secondly, the existing scholarship of bicylce policy and planning in Dutch and Swedish cities will be expanded through complementary studies. Combined, these studies will provide a basis for an informed, multilevel, comparative analyses of the planning and cycling practises.

The character of science

"The character of science: Eli F. Heckscher - an intellectual biography", is a (three year) research project managed by Ylva Hasselberg. Eli F. Heckcher (1879--1952) is one of Sweden's most renowned economists, famous not the least for Mercantilism, but also for his contribution to the Heckscher-Ohlin theorem. The project aims at writing a biography over the life of Heckscher for an international audience. Heckscher was an intellectual as well as a centre figure of Swedish financial and monetary politics, and the biography will take both the intellectual and political aspects into account, as well as the context in which he lived.

Driving reinvestment in R&D for antibiotics and advocating their responsible use

Antibiotics have been since their introduction in the 1940s a fundamental weapon in fighting both simple and life-threatening bacterial infections. However, with widespread use also comes the downside of bacteria developing resistance, via mutation and selection processes, to widely used antibiotics – a phenomenon known as antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Therefore, there is a paradox in that the efficacy of antibiotics as a solution to healthcare needs decreases the more antibiotics are used and diffused. Eventually, with widespread use, any antibiotic would lose therapeutic value or negatively affect that of other antibiotics. This situation has contributed to the progressive disengaged by the pharmaceutical industry from developing this type of drugs. Over the last three decades, the number of pharmaceutical companies that are engaged in R&D activities related to new antibiotics has been reduced from 25 to 4. And of these 4, only 2 have reached so for that they have a drug in Phase 2.

The main ambition of the EU-financed project DRIVE AB project (Driving Re-investment in R&D and responsible antibiotic use) composed of 16 public and 7 private partners from 12 countries, is to develop models to stimulate equitable global access, innovation and responsible use of novel antibiotics, meeting public health needs worldwide. Uppsala STS is involved in this project through Alexandra Waluszewski, who is engaged as an expert and Enrico Baraldi, who is engaged as researcher, in a work-package with a special focus on development of new economic models. For more information, email alexandra.waluszewski@sts.uu.se . See also http://drive-ab.eu/ .