POSTECH’s Perspective on History and Science: A Compass for Teaching the Korean History of Science

2024-04-08 247

[POSTECH Professor Jongsik Christian Yi has recently contributed a paper to the prestigious Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (HSNS) journal in the United States.]

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A paper authored by Professor Jongsik Christian Yi from the Division of Humanities & Social Sciences, introducing the history of science curriculum at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), has been featured in a special issue on the history of science pedagogy in the Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (HSNS), a renowned journal based in the United States.

Professor Yi’s work, entitled “Decolonization and Self-Reflection: Teaching the Korean History of Science in South Korea,” delves into the intricate interplay between history and science. Professor Yi explores why and how elite Korean STEM students study the history of science and technology in and beyond Korea and what the curriculum and pedagogical principles of the university’s history of science program look like.

The professor emphasizes the importance of avoiding a teleological interpretation of history or hastily praising or criticizing the development of science and technology at a given time and place. He argues that the dazzling achievements and dark past of science and technology are often inseparable. Therefore, it is crucial to self-reflectively understand the changes in Korean science and technology within specific historical and social contexts, such as Japanese colonialism, the hegemony of the United States during the global Cold War, and South Korea’s developmental dictatorship. Such nuanced education should encourage students to critically reflect on their roles and envision their future within the dynamic landscape of Korean science and technology history.

Professor Yi remarked, “I am committed to providing comprehensive education to engineering and science students in Korea, ensuring they gain a nuanced understanding of the history of Korean science and technology.”

On a separate note, the HSNS, founded in 1948 and currently published by the University of California Press, holds a distinguished reputation as one of the foremost journals in the field of science history globally.